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Hello, all!

Pub Date: 4-11-23
Adult - Fantasy

Untethered Sky- Fonda Lee: When Ester was young, tragedy struck her family after a manticore attack took the lives of both her mother and younger brother. Left with only her father's stony silence, Ester vowed to herself that she would somehow find a way to kill the monsters that caused her so much grief. This determination leads Ester to the King's Royal Mewes, where men and women train to become ruhkers, the brave riders of the fearsome rocs that hunt manticores. Ester is paired with a fledgling named Zahra and spends all her time training and trying to cultivate a bond with the great beast. But when the pair get sent on a dangerous hunt, the limits of that bond are tested beyond anything Ester could've prepared for.

I've read another book by Lee that I didn't love, but I wanted to give her another go. I did enjoy it but didn't love it. I did like the characters and thought the world was engaging. I liked learning more about the rocs and their interactions with the ruhkers. The relationship between Ester and Zahra was my favorite thing about this. It was interesting watching their bond form, and how it played out tugged on my heartstrings. I also liked Ester's relationship with Darius. They were so supportive of one another and could rely on each other for anything. I don't think this was a bad story, and I would recommend it to fantasy fans, but there's something about Lee's writing style that I don't click with.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 3-7-23
YA - Thriller

Royal Blood- Aimee Carter: Seventeen-year-old Evan Bright has spent most of her life being bounced around boarding schools, hiding that she's the illegitimate daughter of the King of England. Evan has never had any relationship with her father, but that doesn't stop him from stepping in after an incident at her latest school. Now, Evan finds herself spending her summer in London with her father and the rest of the royal family, who are less than thrilled about her existence. It doesn't take long for the press to get wind of Evan, and she soon finds herself in a media frenzy. It only gets worse when Evan becomes the prime suspect in a murder investigation. Evan is determined to uncover the truth about what happened, but the deeper she digs, the more secrets she discovers.

This is like if you took What a Girl Wants but sprinkled in a bit of murder, and I was into it. It took me a little while to warm up to Evan because she came across as quite bratty at the beginning. She was constantly throwing temper tantrums and sulking, but she grew on me by the end. I liked watching her develop a relationship with her father and, eventually, her half-sister. There's also a little romance thrown in that was cute. As for the mystery, it took a while to play out, and even though it was easy to figure out, it was still entertaining. Carter also touched upon some serious topics, and I thought she handled them very well. If this were an early-2000s CW drama, I would've eaten it up, and I'm interested enough to check out the next book.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 11-15-22
YA - Contemporary

The Do-Over- Lynn Painter: It's Valentine's Day, and Emilie Hornby can't wait to exchange "I love you's" with her boyfriend, Josh Sutton. Emilie's morning has started terribly with a car accident and losing out on her dream summer internship, so she's looking forward to seeing Josh. Only she didn't expect to find him kissing another girl. Emilie decides to nurse her broken heart over at her grandmother's, but when she wakes up, she finds herself back in her bed, and it's Valentine's Day-- again. Emilie soon realizes she's stuck in a time loop, reliving the same terrible day over and over again. The one highlight is her interactions with Nick, her surly lab partner, who she feels a growing closeness to with each repeated day. Can Emilie find a way to break the cycle, and if so, what effects will it have on her life?

I don't usually gravitate towards YA contemporary anymore, and I'm not the biggest fan of time loop stories, but I'd read the phone book if Painter wrote it. She has this way of writing characters that feel so authentic that you can't help but root for them. I loved watching Emilie go through all these different versions of the same day and how they helped her become the person she's always wanted to be but was afraid to show the world. I couldn't get enough of her relationship with Nick, who gives off major Jess Mariano vibes, and I was here for it. Right from the get-go, the banter between them was spot-on, but that's not surprising, seeing as how Painter always nails that. I also appreciated how it wasn't all lighthearted and touched upon series topics such as divorce and the death of a loved one. Was it a little cheesy and predictable? Yes. But did I enjoy every moment of it? Also, yes.

Rating: 4/5


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