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Review: Born Wicked

Review: Born Wicked

Title: Born Wicked
Author: Jessica Spotswood
Published: 2012
Length:  330 pages

My star rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

In this alternate universe, late nineteenth-century New England exists as its own political entity run by a puritanical patriarchy called the Brotherhood. Cate Cahill, sixteen, has grown up being taught that she is inherently wicked–and not only because she and her younger sisters are all witches. More than a hundred years before Cate’s time, New England was a bastion of magic, religious freedom, and female power, but now the Brothers keep close tabs on girls’ behavior. Any girl who steps out of line can expect either to be sent to an insane asylum or a prison ship, and at seventeen, every girl must declare her intentions: to marry or to join a religious order called the Sisterhood. As Cate’s seventeenth birthday rapidly approaches, she becomes increasingly anxious to protect her vulnerable younger sisters even as she learns yet more dangerous secrets that further complicate her already-limited choices.

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Review: The Wicked and the Just

Review: The Wicked and the Just

Title: The Wicked and the Just
Author: J. Anderson Coats
Published: 2012
Length: 342 pages

My star rating: ★ ★ ★ ¾

The lives of two girls who feel they’ve lost everything–including estates they consider their birthrights–entertwine in thirteenth-century Wales when Cecily d’Edgeley’s father becomes an English burgess in the town of Caernarvon. Cecily feels her life has been ruined and dreams only of fancy gowns and returning to her childhood home, now occupied by her uncle. She struggles to adjust to living by new rules and among new people who are neither respectful nor submissive like the peasants at Edgeley. Meanwhile her new housemaid Gwenhwyfar, herself once the daughter of a lord, works to the bone simply for a meager supply of food and a few paltry coins.  She hates “the brat” and all the English of Caernarvon, and she’s hardly the only one. As Cecily grumbles about learning to walk like a lady and innocently torments (she thinks) her Welsh servants, tension fed by anger, fear, and hunger brews among the persecuted native populace beyond the city walls–tension that, before long, must boil over.

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Review: The Mermaid’s Sister

Review:  The Mermaid’s Sister

Title: The Mermaid’s Sister
Author: Carrie Anne Noble
Published: 2015
Length: 234 pages

My star rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Clara has lived her entire life in a small cottage on Llanfair Mountain with her adopted mother and sister. They’ve grown up with stories of how their Auntie found them as babies: Clara brought by a stork and Maren left on the doorstep in a clamshell.  When the girls turn sixteen, however, the stories become all too real for Clara as her sister changes before her eyes. Scales appear on Maren’s stomach, her fingers and toes grow webbed, and she is soon unable to live out of some kind of water. With heavy hearts, Clara, Maren, and their lifelong friend O’Neill eventually embark on a journey to the ocean. Yet after their wagon is sabotaged and they are kidnapped, they find themselves fighting for their very lives.

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Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Title: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Author: Jenny Han
Published: 2014
Length: 355 pages

My star rating: ★ ★ ★

Hopeless romantic Lara Jean has fallen in–and, she thinks, out of–love with five different boys in her life, and to each one she’s written a heartfelt and very private love letter to “get over” her crush and move on. Then, just before the beginning of her junior year of high school, her secret letters get mailed. Embarrassed, Lara Jean makes a contract with letter recipient Peter K., her former friend and crush, to make one of the other recipients (who also happens to be her next-door neighbor and, worse, her sister’s ex-boyfriend) believe she’s moved on. But as the months pass, she begins to wonder just how fake her fake relationship really is.

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Review: The Glass Casket

Review: The Glass Casket

Title: The Glass Casket
Author: McCormick Templeman
Published: 2014
Length: 337 pages

My star rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Standing there in the snow, one raven-haired beauty wrapped entirely in crimson and one pale-haired sparrow of a girl swathed in white. 

“We must look like a tragedy,” Fiona said. “We must look like blood in snow.”

A series of disturbing deaths suddenly plague the small mountain community of Nag’s End during the same winter that Rowan Rose’s mysterious cousin Fiona Eira moves there with her stepparents. Things go from bad to worse not long after Fiona and Rowan’s best friend Tom fall in love. Bodies pile up as Tom’s behavior becomes erratic and violent, and frightened rumors begin to fly. But not all is as it seems. Rowan must discover the truth about her cousin–and herself–before years of secrets destroy Tom–or Nag’s End itself.

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Review: Beauty of the Broken

Review: Beauty of the Broken

Title: Beauty of the Broken
Author: Tawni Waters
Published: 2014
Length: 359 pages

My star rating: ★ ★ ¾

In Mara Stonebrook’s rural and extremely conservative-Christian New Mexico town, being different is frowned upon, but being anything other than straight is downright dangerous–especially in the eyes of her bigoted drunk of a father. Mara has watched him beat her older brother Iggy all her life, and she knows her passive alcoholic mother wouldn’t step in if he found out that she’s interested in girls instead of boys. Yet not long after one of his beatings leaves her brother with permanent brain damage, Mara finds herself unable to resist the charms of Xylia, a transfer student from San Francisco. Her friendship with Xylia eventually turns romantic and provides her with inspiration and hope in an otherwise unhappy life–but at what cost?

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Review: Shadowlark

Review: Shadowlark

Title: Shadowlark
Author: Megan Spooner
Published: 2013
Length: 327 pages

My star rating: ★ ★ ★

In this sequel to Skylark, Lark Ainsley continues searching for her brother Basil in hopes of understanding not only his fate but her own identity as well. Soon, however, she falls into the clutches of men who serve Prometheus, the leader of an underground city called Lethe. There, Renewables are feared and forced into slavery to keep the city and its people alive and safe from the shadows of the wold above. After escaping their clutches, Lark works with the resistance, where she realizes that her brother may have come here, too, and fallen victim to Prometheus as well. She is determined to escape–but not before she frees the captive Renewables and confronts Prometheus to end his reign of terror for good.

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