Present time in America, Winter is a famous performer who is being recruited by the Panacea Agency to help take down a dangerous criminal, Eli Morrison. Eli has invited Winter to perform at his daughter Penelope’s birthday celebration in London. This is why Panacea wants Winter’s help, because he can infiltrate Eli’s life with little suspicion. Sydney Cosette works for Panacea and poses as Winter’s bodyguard. The two seem to come from very different backgrounds but they discover they have commonalities. Winter and Sydney get hit with a few surprises on their mission and they’ll have to rely on their wits and trust each other to make it through alive.
Likes/dislikes: Winter and Sydney are interesting characters with unspoken depth. I like the mystery, action and setting of the story. I love the ending.
Mature Content: PG-13 for bisexual relationships mentioned, off-page kissing; sex alluded to by stating, “ended up in bed together”; drinking, transporting drugs, kissing.
Language: R for 49 swears and no f-bombs.
Violence: PG for kidnapping, killing mentioned, death by choking on a chemical weapon, hand to hand combat, shot in the chest. Sydney’s mother Killed by father in domestic abuse rage.
Ethnicity: The ethnicity of the main character is Chinese American, other characters are Black, white, brown-skinned, mixed.
The setting is early 1800’s. Hazel is fascinated with science and specifically medical applications. She sneaks in to watch a medical lecture because women aren’t allowed to attend. Jack scrapes by with odd jobs, such as digging up recently buried bodies to sell for medical studies. Hazel and Jack meet when he helps her sneak into a medical presentation. Hazel later disguises herself as a young gentleman so she can attend classes to become a physician. She’s found out but the professor makes a deal with her and gives her some help to prepare for the physician’s exam. Her family is away so she can study as much as she wants. She also begins treating people that aren’t taken care of by the hospital. She ends up treating patients with Roman Fever; a plague that seems to be appearing again. Jack brings exhumed bodies to Hazel for studying and live patients for her to treat. Jack and Hazel become close, even though she’s been betrothed to a viscount’s son since she was a child. Jack and Hazel get involved in the horrible experimentation of an eccentric doctor and everything gets turned upside down for both of them. I love Jack and Hazel. They’re both strong and selfless and they have an adorable relationship. I would love a sequel to be written to continue the story but at this point, I can’t see any sign of that happening. A mix of mystery and historical fiction to be enjoyed, 5 stars!
When the Stars Lead to You by Ronni Davis tells a beautiful love story alongside a fight against depression. Thanks to NetGalley and Little Brown for the opportunity to read and review this book! Devon meets Ashton and they hit it off immediately. They enjoy each other’s company so much that they don’t really want to spend time with anyone else. Devon notices that Ashton’s mind drifts away sometimes but it’s nothing that he talks about. On their last summer day together, Ashton doesn’t show up and he never answers any of Devon’s texts. A year later and on the first day of school, a new student sits by her in the school assembly audience. When she turns to see who it is, it’s Ashton. They don’t take the time to talk about things until they end up volunteering at a pet shelter all day. Ashton takes Devon to eat and then to his house to talk privately since his parents are away. He tells Devon that his parents expect him to be with an all-white descendant girl and won’t allow him to date her because she’s Black/Irish. Ashton takes things into his own hands and Devon discovers how much stress and pressure he’s dealing with. As they build their relationship, they both expand on who they are. This book has such an eye-opening story about depression and how it can be debilitating. It creates empathy for anyone dealing with depression and the people who love them. 5 stars for a beautiful love story that’s full of reality!
More than what I expected!
The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski tells the story of Nirrim, an orphan that lives with other women that don’t have anywhere else to go. They all live under the care of Raven, who treats them like money-making slaves. Nirrim found and captured a priceless bird and was put in jail where she meets Sid. They talk back and forth but they’re in separate cells and low light, so they can’t see each other clearly. Somehow Sid gets them both released and Nirrim is surprised to find out that Sid is actually a woman when she thought Sid was a man during her stay in jail. Sid is a traveler, which is rare in Nirrim’s kingdom. The two befriend each other with a wary trust. The two travel together until a visitor brings Sid worrisome news and she has to return to her home. Then all Nirrim wants is the truth behind the history of her kingdom. What she discovers is much more than she bargained for. The ending left me speechless and was so much bigger than I expected it to be! Different types of abuse and manipulation are touched on as parts of Nirrim’s life. I appreciate the author addressing these issues and helping readers understand the perspective of the abused and used. A complex world with complicated characters, 5 stars!
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!
Interesting character development!
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the opportunity to read and review A Sorrow Fierce and Falling by Jessica Cluess!
Now that Blackwood and Nettie are engaged, they are able to fully work together. They move to Blackwood’s estate, Sorrow Fell, and Nettie discovers the curse that goes along with the stolen Fae dwelling. The Blackwood bride deteriorates for decades. Blackwood becomes Imperator and the power changes him and not in a good way. He craves honor, love and acceptance, which he never received from his parents. He yearns to control everything and this puts a wall between himself and Nettie. As the Ancients get closer, the sorcerers, magicians and witches struggle with leadership and the possibility of working together. This third and last book of the series contains more emotional upheavals and ups and downs, as well as great character development! Jessica Cluess has proven herself as a wonderful fantasy author and I would love to read this series again, 5 stars!
Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett addresses several difficult topics with boldness and knowledge. Simone was born HIV positive and she lives with her loving, adoptive parents, Dave and Paul, who she calls Dad and Pops. Simone recently moved to the school she’s now attending, after being tormented and shunned at her previous school when her best friend told everyone that Simone has HIV. She wants a fresh start and her junior year is going well, at first. She’s been assigned as the high school musical director for the school production of “Rent” because Broadway is one of her passions and her teacher believes she has what it takes to follow her dreams and make a career out of directing. Simone meets this amazing guy, Miles, and they form a healthy relationship and she shares her secret with him. Miles handles it kindly and with empathy and treats Simone the same as before. Someone starts leaving threatening notes for Simone, warning her to break up with Miles or else. Everything escalates after that and blow up. Simone finds out who her true friends are and she has to decide whether to hold her head up high and persevere or run away from the same problem all over again.
Be aware that Full Disclosure freely talks about sexual issues and questions, so not for sexually squeamish readers.
The Traitor Prince by CJ Redwine. The third book in the Ravenspire series. Rahim, Javan’s unknown cousin, has been chosen to be a replacement for the true prince because he’s half royal. His father, Fariq, conceived Rahim with a peasant woman. Rahim is bitter and feels justified in taking the true prince’s place. Javan, the prince, has been away at school for the past ten years, working hard to meet his mother’s dying wish that he will graduate with honors. Javan is kidnapped and thrown in prison where he struggles to stay alive and tries to find a way to reach his father, the king. In the meantime, Rahim is trying to weasel his way into power. Javan finds trusted allies and he literally fights for survival. The prison warden throws everything she can at Javan to crush him. Javan discovers more about himself and about his country than he ever imagined. I love Sadja, her strength and abilities. I also rooted for Javan the whole time! Strong world building and characters make The Traitor Prince a very enjoyable read, 5 stars!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Paper Girl by Cindy R. Wilson!
Zoe is home-schooled and Jackson is homeless and they play chess together online, not knowing each other’s true identities. Before things changed for Zoe, she talked to Jackson at a basketball game her sister was cheering at. Zoe and Jackson think about each other from before she was home-schooled but neither of them realize that. Since Zoe needs help with Math and Physics, her mother hires Jackson for tutoring and their relationship grows into more than just friendly acquaintances. They help each other deal with personal struggles, Zoe’s anxiety and Jackson’s relationship with his father. Paper Girl is therapeutic and a cute young adult romance, 5 stars!
The friend zone is a difficult place to be!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review 99% Faking It by Chris Cannon! Lisa has a crush on Matt but she’s tried to change her feelings about him since he put her in the friend zone. Now, to help them both get dates, Matt has asked Lisa to pretend to be his girlfriend because a taken person is much more attractive. Lisa bothered me with her insecurities and I understand that everyone is allowed an opinion and should take care of themselves but she seemed self-righteous at times. The comment that Matt made about not caring if Lisa isn’t cool and how he likes that she’s into books annoyed me too. It’s like he’s trying to convince himself to like her. I think I needed a bit more happy relationship events between Matt and Lisa so I could actually root for everything to work out with them but I didn’t feel invested in their relationship. I enjoyed Chris Cannon’s fantasy series, Going Down in Flames, but 99% Faking It feels rushed and lacks depth. I give it three stars for a cutesy, cohesive story.