Amy Chelsea Stacie Dee by Mary G. Thompson

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Having escaped from her kidnapper six years after she and her cousin, Dee, were taken, Amy returns home to a family that is broken in the wake losing her. Though pressured to disclose the horrors of her captivity (namely the whereabouts of Dee), Amy is silent about the experience. But Amy can only maintain her silence for so long. Soon, she is wrapped up in terrifying flashbacks of her ordeal, her mind focused on protecting the dark secrets of the last six years. Somehow, Amy must find a way to find her way back to her old life before she’s lost forever in memory.

Warning: this one is HEAVY. Though written for a YA audience, the themes in this book are extremely adult. It contains many triggers (see the full analysis) and even I needed to take breaks from it now and then. That said, the book is very well-written and packed with emotion. There are some hopeful feelings that float up through the end as well, so it’s not all heart-wrenching. But mostly it is. If you liked Room, or if you like serious tearjerkers, you make like this one. But be warned (again), it’s not an easy read.

Rating: 4/5 

For full analysis (including SPOILERS) click here. 

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

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In the land of Hearts, Cath dreams of opening up her own bakery. She does, after all, make the best baked goods in the kingdom. The only problem with Cath’s plan is her nobility. Though her parents dream of Cath’s rise in court (especially with the king’s eye on her), Cath wants only to assert her independence and make her own way in the world. If Cath’s world isn’t complicated enough, new arrivals in Hearts (a mysterious, alluring joker and a rabbit who makes hats) further tangle her ambitions. With the pressure of the king’s affection increasing every day,  Cath must figure out a way to control her own destiny — if she can.

I loved The Lunar Chronicles, so I was really looking forward to new work by Marissa Meyer. At first, this book is a bit slow, but hang in there, because it really picks up by the end. What I like best about this book, aside from the incredible world-building, is that we see a huge shift in the protagonist. Most of the time, “good guys” stay “good guys” and bad stays bad. In this book, that is not the case. However, seeing as the book takes place in Wonderland, I suppose it’s fitting for expectations to be turned on their heads. If you like Alice in Wonderland, fractured fairy tales, or are also a fan of Marissa Meyer, definitely give this one a try. After its ending, I definitely hope there is more to follow!

Rating: 4/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

A World Without Princes by Soman Chainani

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After Sophie and Agatha wish for each other, they are transported back to their home in Gavaldon, where they will, presumably, live out their “ever afters”. However, a new wish takes the pair back to the School for Good and Evil — only it’s far from the school they remember. Now, the girls find themselves in a school for girls and boys, with each side vehemently hating the other. What’s more, the boys’ school wants Sophie dead, and the girls’ school is ruled by a sadistic, boy-hating dean. Somehow, Sophie and Agatha must find a way to reunite the schools and undo the wish, before it’s too late.

As much as I liked the first book, I was really excited to read this one. It was pretty great! There were a couple of aspects I did not enjoy. For example, once the girls are left on their own, all they want to do is eat/diet/play with makeup. Eye-roll. BUT, for the most part, this book was really good. I loved seeing the return of all my favorite characters, and there are some interesting backstories and plot twists revealed. I especially recommend listening to the audiobook this series, as the reader is excellent!

Rating: 4/5 

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

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Though Aelin Galathynius has returned home to Terrasen, her people are not ready to accept her as queen. Meanwhile, the dark forces fueled by Erawan grow stronger. With the kingdoms surrounding her fracturing to pieces, and no willing allies to accept her royal claim, Aelin, again, fights against death to save her friends, family, and throne. Somehow, she must learn to harness the unquenchable fire within her and discover the meaning behind a centuries-old prophecy in order to save her kingdom and her life.

Wow! Another stunner in the Throne of Glass series. As with Queen of Shadows, this one starts out slow, but it really picks up. Look forward to the return of some amazing characters, crazy plot twists, and, of course, drama. The ending is yet another cliffhanger, and I, for one, can’t wait to see how this series will end. As good as the book is, be warned that it is VERY YA. In a break from Maas’ other books in the series, this one is appropriate only for high school grades and up.

Rating: 4.5/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.