Make It Easy Cupcake! by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson

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Easy to decorate for all DIY-ers!
Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read and review Make It Easy, Cupcake! by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson!
You know with these authors, the cupcake creations will be nothing short of astounding! Cupcakes made as easy as possible, with cookies and other edible ingredients, turn out adorable and fun! The cherry blossom cupcakes set together beautifully to make a cherry blossom tree, ready to be disassembled by hungry cupcake eaters. Football players, droids, ballerinas and swans are just some of the decadently decorated cupcakes found within the pages of this book. These cleverly designed desserts are almost too cute or too pretty to eat! 5 stars!

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

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Truly original fantasy!
I read When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore as a buddy-read event for Dragons & Tea Book Club. Thanks to NetGalley and Thomas Dunne Books for the opportunity to read and review this book by providing the ARC!
This is a unique story that pulls from deep-seated cultural roots and a little deception. Sam and Miel share trust, loyalty and a special relationship. They also share their community with a group of sisters that could be considered mean girls, with a power they’ve grown so used to, that they do not want to lose it and will do whatever it takes to keep it. Wow! Aracely’s background revelation was something I was not expecting! Sam struggles with the decision of who (what gender) he wants to be in the near future. He’s struggling to the point of desperation. Miel blames herself for the loss of her mother and brother. She thinks the river might give them back to her. The fantastical elements are kind of difficult to understand in this story but I do enjoy the flow of the author’s writing. As usually is the case, the author’s notes are enlightening! They are also helpful in understanding Miel’s fears and Sam’s struggles. I appreciate that Anna-Marie McLemore shares such personal experiences and revelations with her readers! 4 stars for this unique fantasy!

In Another Life by C.C. Hunter

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Realistic fiction by C. C. Hunter!
Thanks to Wednesday Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review In Another Life by C. C. Hunter!
Chloe moved to Joyful, Texas with her mom after the divorce. She’s lived in Joyful before, when she was three years old and had just been adopted. She doesn’t really remember anything about it from before. Cash lives in a foster home with Ms. Fuller. She’s an amazing foster parent and truly cares about Cash. Cash knows that Ms. Fuller lost her daughter a long time ago and he wants to help her feel better. The story jumps around and finally transitions more smoothly after the first quarter of the book. I felt like I became more invested in the characters of Chloe and Cash after that point. The story involves con artists, kidnapping, deception, friendship and family. With all of the events, the two strong main characters and the author’s writing style, In Another Life is an enjoyable read worth 4 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!

This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter

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Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read and review This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter. Leah is awaiting a heart transplant and in the meantime she’s being tutored and doing her schoolwork at home with her teachers’ help. Leah’s story (first person point of view) alternates with the (third person point of view) story of twins, Matt and Eric, who are still reeling from the loss of their father. One of the twins tutors Leah for extra credit on a day that the math teacher cannot make it. Leah is unsure which twin it is and confesses that she’s had a crush on Matt for years. I’m not sure how much time passes before Eric ends up dying in the hospital from a gunshot wound. Leah’s family receives a call from the hospital letting them know a heart is available for her transplant. She discovers that she’s received Eric’s heart and she keeps this information to herself. Eventually Leah and Matt talk about the transplant and how they’ve both been having dreams about Eric’s death and believe that it wasn’t suicide. In the dreams, they hear a voice other than Eric’s and they also see how Eric was running from something before he was shot. The mystery progresses and finally Detective Henderson sees proof of foul play. The main point of the book is to experience the process of needing a transplant, receiving one and learning to embrace life all over again. The author shares her family’s experiences with transplants at the end of the book. These experiences brought this story to life. 4 stars for the strength and perseverance shown by the main characters!

The Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan

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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.

Bad Girl Gone by Temple Mathews

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Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read and review Bad Girl Gone by Temple Mathews. Echo wakes up in a strange place and she’s having a difficult time getting her bearings. It’s too dark to make out much and as she’s feeling around she touches something stringy like hair. She realizes she’s not in her bedroom or even her home. She hears creepy laughing and screaming and what she thinks might be a cutting tool. She’s spooked and terrified and she’s told by a scary nurse/nun that she’s now in Middle House. The other residents are young people also and Echo assumes that Middle House is an orphanage but the truth freaks her out even more. She learns to accept being a Middle House resident and gains friendship and help from the others as she discovers why and how she was brought to Middle House. The beginning of the book led my mind one direction and the continuation led it to a completely different direction. I don’t want to give the mystery away because it’s the reason I kept reading. Reminiscent of Everlost by Neal Shusterman, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs and a tiny bit of The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. Bad Girl Gone is a supernatural romance surrounded in mystery, 4 stars.