Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith

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Interesting characters wrapped up in intrigue!
Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read and review Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith!
Witchcraft is forbidden in Aurelia’s kingdom and the story opens as she’s sadly watching two women hang for performing witchcraft. Aurelia has performed her share of magic, even though she’s the princess. She’s being sent away to Achleva to marry the prince. In his kingdom, magic is allowed. Along the way, a plot is revealed and she escapes on her own. She disguises herself as a maid and meets other commoners, befriends them and helps them. Someone is trying to break seals and release dark magic and they finally discover who has been breaking them, only after they’ve lost a wonderful friend. I love the part when the prince stands up to the king, speaking the truth about the seal breaker. The king’s reaction raises suspicion. Some of the transitions could be more clear between reality and Aurelia’s visions but for the most part, the visions add depth to the plot. Aurelia loses people she loves and she discovers her true origins. Unpredictable and entertaining, Bloodleaf kept me riveted to the end, 4 stars!

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

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Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl is set in the American South where Confederacy is still very important to its residents. Ethan lives in Gatlin, a small southern town where nothing changes. He hates it. He has been having dreams of saving a girl. Ethan cannot see her face and he doesn’t know who she is. He wakes up with dirt under his fingernails and on his sheets. He has also started hearing a voice and the song, “Sixteen Moons”, plays randomly on his MP3 player and the radio, even though he’s never heard of the song before. A new girl, Lena, moves into Gatlin and lives with her uncle who is known as the local recluse. Lena and Ethan get much more than they bargained for when they become friends. Both of their families are keeping secrets from Ethan and Lena and when they find a locket that gives them shared visions of the past, they start keeping secrets of their own. Their ancestors are entwined somehow and that might be the key to saving Lena from her possibly dark future. I enjoyed the southern setting and the intense differences of the characters – 5 stars for this fun and suspenseful supernatural read!

The Reader

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Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Group for the arc of The Reader by Traci Chee! Sefia and her “aunt” Nin are hiding from people who want them. Sefia thinks they’re wanted because of Nin’s thievery skills. Sefia goes to a village to sell animal pelts and when she returns, Nin has been captured. The story falls back to when Sefia was younger and living with her father. He was killed and his body torn apart and Sefia had been with Nin at the time. When she returned home, she found her father’s body like this. Even though she was terrified and distraught about her father, Sefia hid as always told to, since her family expected danger eventually but never telling Sefia why. Her parents had given her three explicit instructions: use the secret doors, go through the tunnel, find Nin. At the last secret door, a rectangular object fell out, a book. She took it with her, not knowing what it was.

Many alternating points of view confused me for a while. Lon is a young man with special sight and Erastis, the master librarian, takes him in as his apprentice. Captain Reed and his ship, Current (a remarkable captain and a remarkable ship). Assassins and trackers searching for something. Sefia reads about these people and the complicated stories found in the book turn out to be real people and their actual lives.

The Reader is interesting and complex with diverse characters, 4 stars.