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A Place at Our Table by Amy Clipston

**I received a copy of “A Place at Our Table” from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this book has had no effect on my review.”

Kayla Dienner was devastated when her last boyfriend broke up with her, so she’s determined to protect her heart at all costs. Then, she meets Jamie Riehl. Jamie is so busy between helping run his family’s dairy farm and volunteering as a fireman that he barely has time to eat with his family, much less find someone to date. After meeting Kayla, Jamie is drawn to her and can’t help but think that she might be the one. Because her older brother died in a fire, Kayla isn’t sure she can handle risking her heart to a fireman, worrying every time the sirens wail. So, she tries to deny her feelings for Jamie. Can Jamie find the time to show Kayla how much she means to him or will he continue to let other things to take priority? Can Kayla put aside her fears to save their relationship?

I really enjoyed reading this sweet story and seeing both families trying to put their lives back together in the face of tragedies. Every single character was so well written and likeable. They all had to learn how to let their faith bring them through the hard times, while also being able to lean on each other for comfort. There was a lot going on in this story, but it all flowed smoothly and made sense. It was certainly thought provoking and brought up issues that most of us will face in our lives. This is the first book in Amy Clipston’s Amish Homestead series and I’m honestly looking forward to reading more about these two special families.

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Review of Mushrooms by Cameron Jace

The Wonderland War has begun and The Inklings are being chased by almost every country in the world. The Pillar’s fate is unknown, but he’s presumed dead. Lewis and Fabiola are trying to help Alice and the March Hare find The Six Impossible Keys and figure out the most precious thing is. All the while, they have a spy in their midst, who can’t wait to report back to Black Chess. Will they figure everything out in time to save the world? Will Alice be able to handle getting the answers to all of her questions and remembering her secrets?

Mushrooms is the eighth book in Cameron Jace’s Insanity series. Wow! What a journey this installment was! It continues as Alice and the Inklings try to save the world from the war that the Wonderland Monsters want to wage and from Black Chess. Alice wasn’t the main focus in this one. Instead, we learned so much about the other characters, including their backstories and how they came to be like they are. It was action packed and continued Cameron’s knack for weaving in obscure facts about Lewis Carroll and from history. As always, you can really see how much work and research that go into his books. Our adventure with Alice and the others is almost over, and while I’m looking forward to seeing Alice get her answers, I’m simultaneously dreading have it all end.

Review of Red (Fractured Fairy Tales Book 1) by J. E. Taylor

**FTC DISCLAIMER: I RECEIVED AN E-ARC FROM THE AUTHOR, IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW. RECEIPT OF THIS BOOK IN THIS MANNER DOES NOT AFFECT MY OPINION OF THE BOOK OR THE CONTENT OF MY REVIEW.**

Red Locklear is a member of the hunters that protect Dakota by hunting animals that would view the townspeople as prey. Werewolves aren’t the only animals she hunts but, because her parents and brother were brutally killed by a pack of the bloodthirsty animals, they’re definitely her favorite prey. One evening, Red returns home from hunting to find that her grandmother hasn’t returned from her foraging trip. She can’t bear the thought of her grandmother being out alone in the dark, possibly injured, so Red straps on her quiver of silver arrows and heads out to find her. After all, her grandmother is the only family Red has left, and she’s the one who raised her after the wolf pack killed the rest of her family. When she finds her grandmother, she’s surprised by something she never thought she’d see. She finds a werewolf guarding her grandmother from the other werewolves and protecting her from the bitter cold. Red’s sworn duty is to kill any and all werewolves she encounters. But, how can she kill the one who’s saved her beloved grandmother, who’s obviously very different from the others, who is obviously desperate for a human connection? What happens when she falls in love with him?

This book was amazing from the very beginning. It caught my attention and held onto it, to the point that I literally read it in one sitting. I couldn’t bring myself to put it down! This was definitely not your typical werewolf story and I appreciated this fresh take on The Little Red Riding Hood Story. I loved how well written all of the characters were and it was interesting to see how even the people who were trying so hard to do the right thing differed in their points of view as far as exactly what that “tight thing” was. It clearly illustrates the potential consequences of lumping everyone into the same categories and making assumptions based on the labels you’ve given them. I loved watching everyone realize what could have happened if they had remained so close minded. All in all, everyone really grew and learned a lot. I didn’t see some of the twists that the storyline brought and there were several surprises, some good and some bad. I really loved that none of the characters were flat or boring, even the less active townspeople that you didn’t encounter very much. J. E. Taylor is an incredible author and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of this series and her other works, as well.

Review of Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed

 

The blurb says that Never Let Me Go meets The Giver in Jennie Melamed’s dystopian debut drama (nice little bit of alliteration lol) about a cult that lives on an isolated island. But, I haven’t read Never Let Me Go…yet, so I don’t know if that’s an apt comparison but, to me it’s a good pairing of the book The Giver mixed with aspects off Running Out of Time (the book the movie The Village is based on and my newest **MUST READ**) mixed with aspects of The Handmaid’s Tale. Years ago, before the entire country was incinerated, ten men and their families managed to escape and settled on an island off the coast. They formed an uncompromising society based on worship of their ancestors, controlled breeding, and the strict rationing of knowledge and history. Only the Wanderers, ten male descendants of the original families, are allowed to leave the island and cross over to the wasteland, where they’ll scavenge for useful remnants and scraps among the still-smoldering fires. The Daughters on the island are “wives-in-training”, which is every bit as ominous as it sounds. At the first sign of puberty, they know that the next summer will be their Summer of Fruition, a ritualistic season that takes them from being young girls to being wives. They’ll have children who will have children, and when they’re no longer useful to their community and family, they take their final draught and die alongside their husbands. But, in the summer, the children who aren’t experiencing their Summer of Fruition are having the time of their lives. It’s a tradition that the children have free reign in the summer, with all of the adults living indoors and the children living wildly outside: fighting over food that the adults leave outside for them and building (and fighting over) shelters. At the end of one of their carefree summers, Caitlin Jacob sees something so horrific, something so completely contradictory to the laws that they’re supposed to live by that she knows that she has no other choice but to tell the others. Born leader, Janey Solomon, steps up, determined to find out the truth. If anyone can find the truth, it will be Janey. At seventeen years old, she’s the oldest of the children, because she’s so averse to becoming a woman that she’s slowly starving herself to death. After hearing what Caitlin saw, Janey tried urgently to untangle the knot of lies that they’ve been told their entire lives, and get to the truth about the island and what lies beyond, before she dies. She and her sister, Mary, try to lead the other girls in an insurgence against the adults that very well may be their undoing.

Honestly, this book was a bit difficult to review. It’s so incredibly well written so, if this is Jennie Melamed ‘s first attempt, we need to keep an eye out for future books because they’re bound to be epically amazing! This book was heartbreaking and exhilarating, joyous and infuriating, and an immeasurable amount of emotions, all combined through various periods in the story. Melamed has an incredible talent for description and for plot development. She can make you feel as if you’ve been dropped right into the middle of the action (invisibly, of course, so as to keep anyone from knowing you’re there, hehe). I definitely had a picture of the island in my mind as it changed from sum, with its groups of wild children running everywhere like they’re the Lost Boys in Peter Pan and in fall with the same children, now scrubbed clean and back home, walking back and forth to school. And as good as the author was at desciptions and story telling, she was even better at character development. There were no flat , single dimensional characters here, no way, no how. Every single character all the way to the youngest child that was mentioned had a dynamic personality. Every single one of them learned and adapted, and the ones who were too stubborn to understand why change was necessary really argued their case, it wasn’t just so they could be contemptuous. The reason that this book was so difficult for me to review is some of the themes it covers. It really makes you think and I’m not saying it’s intense. I dearly hope that Melamed has plans to continue writing because she’s incredibly talented and I really hope that you have plans to read this book because you’re going to be glad that you did. I, also really hope that there will be a sequel because I NEED to know what happens to them next!!!

Seer by Ashley Maker

FTC DISCLAIMER: I RECEIVED AN E-ARC FROM THE AUTHOR THROUGH A GOODREADS GIVEAWAY. RECEIPT OF THIS BOOK IN THIS MANNER DOES NOT AFFECT MY OPINION OF THE BOOK OR THE CONTENT OF MY REVIEW!

Clare Palmer accepts the scholarship to attend Evergreen because she thinks it’ll get her away from her insane, estranged father and because it’s the same school that her late mother graduated from. But, when she gets there, she learns that her entire life has been a lie and she’s a part of this scientifically modified, combat obsessed society called the Corasha, some of whom view her as a potentially dangerous outsider because of her mother keeping her away. The purpose of Evergreen is to train Clare and the other children in combat and using their skills.

Seer is the first book in Ashley Maker’s Seer series, and the first book by this author that I’ve ever read. When I was offered the opportunity to read it, I found the concept interesting and really looked forward to getting to read it. Ashley definitely didn’t let me down! The main character was easy to identify with and the rest of the characters were well written, as well. I liked that there wasn’t anyone that was just good or just bad, they all had their own unique personalities and strengths and flaws to go along with them. I’m definitely looking forward to the second book so I can see what happens next and so I can, hopefully, get some answers to some lingering questions.

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Oracle’s Hunt by A. Claire Everward

A security-critical facility is destroyed to get to Oracle and that’s all USFID investigator Donovan Pierce knows. While he’s told that he needs to find the perpetrators of this deadly attack, and find them quickly, he’s also warned not to make any attempts to find Oracle itself or any information pertaining to it. Simply put Oracle is far above his security clearance. Lara Holsworth never even considered it possible for Oracle to be in danger and wants nothing more than to keep it a secret and to keep Donovan away from it…and her. But with some very real enemies determined to destroy it, hiding is no longer an option. Will Lara and Donovan be able to keep Oracle safe?

Really, I enjoyed every aspect of this fast paced novel. This author definitely has a knack for character development. She even made me feel sympathy for the hacker that Elijahn used. He was a bad guy so I didn’t want to see him get away completely, but I found myself feeling sorry for him, a little, and not wanting him to be killed. I absolutely adored Lara and found myself in awe of her intelligence and how much she cared about bringing everyone home. Donovan was amazing and so very good st his job. Really, all of the characters were incredibly well written, even the villains. They all had such dynamic personalities. There’s so much more I could say about this wonderful novel, but I worry about giving spoilers so I’m just going to say, y’all need to hurry up and read it!! You’re going to be glad that you did.

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Review of Persephone by Kaitlin Bevis

One day, Persephone is just a normal teenager, working in her mother’s flower shop. The next, she’s off fighting Boreas, the brutal god of Winter, and learning that she’s an actual goddess, the rare daughter of the now dead god, Zeus. Hades whisks her off to the Underworld to save her from Boreas’s attack and she’s going to have to stay there for the winter! She’s also automatically married to the wickedly handsome god as that’s the only way he can truly protect her. Older, wiser, and more powerful than she is, Hades has no intention of being anything other than a protector to Persephone. But, every time he rescues her, they fall a little more in love. Can she escape her father’s minions? The Underworld is a cool place but she’s not sure that she’s willing to give up her life on the surface to live there. She’s developing her goddess powers and she plans to use them to overcome her enemies.

I’ve always been a huge fan of Greek mythology so this book intrigued me from the beginning. Kaitlin Revis did such an amazing job on this retelling of the Persephone myth. You can really tell that she did her research. The characters are all well written, with dynamic personalities. And the descriptive details made me able to picture the Underworld and all of the characters vividly. I am so glad I found this series!