Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick. The opening chapter spooked my thriller instinct while the second chapter was optimistic and lighthearted. Britt and Korbie are heading to the Wyoming mountains for spring break and on the way to Korbie’s family cabin the weather becomes dire. They leave their Jeep in search of shelter and find two young men in a cabin. Their spring break goes from fun and hopeful and from bad to worse. A whirlwind of events makes Black Ice a must-read mystery! For a book that contains less than 400 pages, it packs quite a punch! Becca Fitzpatrick weaves an engaging story full of suspense that doesn’t quit, characters that become more complex as the mystery unfolds and descriptions that immersed my imagination in the cold winter storms in the Teton Mountains, 5 intense stars!
Thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for the opportunity to read and review The Cruel Prince by Holly Black! The opening of the book immediately grabbed my full attention with action, intrigue and violence! Jude and Taryn, human twins, are raised with their Faerie older sister, Vivi, in the Faerie kingdom. Jude and Taryn attend school with faerie teenagers and, while Taryn seems to stay off their radar, Jude is constantly being teased by Cardan, Valerian, Locke and Nicasia. Valerian takes the teasing to violent extremes. For this reason, Jude works daily to become stronger (by taking small amounts of poison daily to become immune) and to become a warrior. Little does she know how much her self training and practice will help her kingdom until the future of her kingdom lies within her hands. Fantasy laced with action and intrigue make The Cruel Prince a must read, 5 stars! I’m anxiously awaiting the sequel.
Thanks to NetGalley and Amulet Books for the opportunity to read and review RoseBlood by A.G. Howard! Roseblood. Rune is being taken to an elite school in France and wonders what the motives of her relatives are by helping her have access to this expensive school and paying for everything she needs from tuition to uniforms, when they haven’t been kind or close in the past. Her father passed away years ago and his relations are the ones helping Rune with acceptance to the school. Her mother has traveled from Harmony, Texas with Rune to take her to the school. For some reason, Rune needed to leave her hometown because of some kind of trouble she caused. Her father shared a musical talent with Rune and without him, this talent is taking a toll on her health and life. As I read, I became more engrossed in this interesting twist on “The Phantom of the Opera”. Chapter four intrigued me with it’s foreshadowing and I couldn’t stop reading after that! Magic is somehow involved with this story along with a bit of the supernatural. Each chapter begins with a literary quote that applies to the chapter content and, as always, I appreciate and enjoyed the author’s note at the end of the book which explains A. G. Howard’s research into the truth behind the Phantom. A supernatural fantasy retelling of The Phantom of the Opera, told with imagination and complex, multidimensional characters, 5 stars!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review By a Charm and a Curse by Jaime Questell! Emmaline and her siblings are spending a year with their father in a small, uneventful town while their mom works in Guatemala, since she received a grant. Emma attends the carnival with her friend Juliet before it leaves town and takes the last bit of entertainment with it. Benjamin works for the traveling carnival but he wants to leave it to finally stay in one place and start a life there. Emma meets and takes a Ferris wheel ride with Sidney; a young man that runs the fortune teller box attraction. Emma unknowingly submits herself to the curse and charm that runs the carnival. Her friends and family believe that she’s run away and she is nothing but trapped until she can trick someone else into taking the curse. Emma and Benjamin form a bond and they’re determined to figure out a way to break the curse once and for all. A supernatural fantasy written for young adults, 4 stars!
Thanks to Riveted Lit and Simon & Schuster for the chance to read The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson. Beautiful descriptions of all that Andrew senses bring the story instantly to life. The book description on Goodreads contained the statement, “partly graphic novel”, because the character, Andrew, creates a graphic novel about Patient F, a superhero. Andrew survived something tragic and hides out and lives in the hospital where his family members died. He makes friends with hospital workers and patients and he has an effect on each of them. He eventually has to face terms with hiding behind the fake persona he’s created when everything seems to be falling apart around him. Tastefully written and heart wrenching, The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley ends with hope in sight, worth 5 stars!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing for the opportunity to read and review Lock & Mori: Final Fall by Heather W. Petty! So much intensity occurs in this book that I had to ponder and process my thoughts before I could write my review. Mori is still amazingly strong, intelligent and brave and she continues to be the biggest advocate for her brothers. When the story opens, Mori is imprisoned by Alice and her paid guards while her brothers are being used to threaten Mori into compliance. Mori has two goals in mind- 1. Save her brothers and 2. Rid the world of their father. Action and controlled anger take over the story as Mori does everything it takes to complete her goals. This final book in the Lock & Mori series completes a part of Mori’s life but ends with foreshadowing for her future. 5 stars for this mystery retelling of the relationship between Sherlock and Moriarty!
Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the opportunity to read and review Before I Let Go by Marieki Nijkamp! Corey receives news of the drowning of her best friend, Kyra, and she travels back to Lost Creek to mourn her death and discover how she drowned in the middle of winter when the water is frozen several feet deep. Corey is treated like an outsider because she’s been attending a boarding school away from Lost Creek, so they disregard her questions and concerns. Corey’s determination reveals more than she ever wanted to know about the downward spiral of Kyra’s mental health and the ignorance and selfishness of the people of Lost Creek! 4 stars for a poignant look at bipolar disorder and the struggles of the sufferer and the coping mechanisms of the people closest to them.
Thanks to NetGalley and Del Rey for the opportunity to read and review The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden! This sequel to Bear and the Nightingale is a wonderful fantasy with beautiful descriptions and fascinating legendary characters of Russian heritage. Vasya is still uniquely interesting and after surviving different adventures, she meets her niece, Marya. The two of them have a great deal in common and Vasya finally has someone she can share her magical sights with, until they are forbidden to spend time together because of the impropriety of Marya showing her face in public. She truly is a girl locked in a tower. Their lives scatter out of control when a secret Vasya has kept quiet is revealed and everything spirals downward from there. I enjoyed this sequel as much as the first book and even more. The ending left me wanting more and I sure hope there’s a third book planned. I noticed on Goodreads that the next addition to the Winternight Trilogy is set to be published August 2018 and is entitled The Winter of the Witch! The Russian information and resources in the Author’s Notes helped with the understanding of legends, vocabulary and names. I am also interested in researching more of this section of Russian history, thanks to the sources mentioned. This beautiful story rates 5 stars for its atmospheric descriptions and dynamic characters!
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir introduces Laia and her brother Darin, who both live with their grandparents. When the Empire raids their home, Darin runs and instructs Laia to hide his sketchbook. They’re both caught and taken back inside to watch their grandparents lose their lives. Elias is introduced next. He’s a soldier of the Empire, known as a Mask. Masks are skilled soldiers and trained killers. Elias watches with the rest of the Masks as a deserter is whipped to death by the Commandant. This sickens him because he’s planning on deserting also and he thinks that he will be the next to die at the hands of the Commandant. The Commandant is Elias’ mother and she holds nothing but hatred for her son. The story alternates between Laia and Elias and suspense flows throughout the entire book, each section ending on a cliffhanger. Laia enters the Empire as the Commandant’s slave and as a spy for the resistance, in exchange for helping Darin. A new era is upon the Empire and The Trials have been set and will challenge four Masks, only two will survive and one of them will be the new Emperor. Relationships grow more complicated for both Laia and Elias and the struggle for their lives becomes more desperate. This rollercoaster of a story keeps the suspense heightened to the very last page! 5 well-deserved stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️!
Sea of Strangers, the sequel to Island of Exiles. I don’t understand the different use of pronouns and it’s distracting but the author’s descriptive details make a scenic world once again. On their journey, the travelers encounter magic, other cultures, dangerous terrain and poisonous birds. They become a strong team and learn to work together and Khya learns that she’s capable of so much more than she ever could have believed. The ending is interesting and intense and my favorite part! 4 stars for a sequel with as much spirit as the first book of the Ryogan Chronicles!