Down Comes The Night by Allison Saft #bookreview #fantasy #YA

He saw the darkness in her magic. She saw the magic in his darkness.

Wren Southerland’s reckless use of magic has cost her everything: she’s been dismissed from the Queen’s Guard and separated from her best friend—the girl she loves. So when a letter arrives from a reclusive lord, asking Wren to come to his estate, Colwick Hall, to cure his servant from a mysterious illness, she seizes her chance to redeem herself.

The mansion is crumbling, icy winds haunt the caved-in halls, and her eccentric host forbids her from leaving her room after dark. Worse, Wren’s patient isn’t a servant at all but Hal Cavendish, the infamous Reaper of Vesria and her kingdom’s sworn enemy. Hal also came to Colwick Hall for redemption, but the secrets in the estate may lead to both of their deaths.

With sinister forces at work, Wren and Hal realize they’ll have to join together if they have any hope of saving their kingdoms. But as Wren circles closer to the nefarious truth behind Hal’s illness, they realize they have no escape from the monsters within the mansion. All they have is each other, and a startling desire that could be their downfall.

Allison Saft’s Down Comes the Night is a snow-drenched romantic fantasy that keeps you racing through the pages long into the night.

Love makes monsters of us all.

With an atmospheric, beautiful cover and a description giving me all kinds of gothic vibes, I was anxious to settle in with this story on a dreary night.

After Wren is suspended from the Queen’s Guard, she ducks out of her next assignment and heads to Colwick Hall in an attempt to get back into the good graces of her aunt, the queen. Although Wren’s last living relative, the queen has never shown her any affection and barely tolerates her. Once Wren realizes the patient she’s been hired to care for at the hall is an enemy of her kingdom (Hal’s killed hundreds of people), the story really began for me. The crumbling mansion surrounded by acres of snow is the perfect setting for her to unravel the mystery of Hal’s illness and uncover the person responsible for the disappearance of several soldiers from her kingdom.

Wren is a compassionate person, an important trait for a healer, but she trusts too easily, and it comes back to bite her more than once. As the Reaper, Hal has a dark, violent past, but I wanted to know more about his transformation from the Reaper to the person Wren meets. Several blank spaces kept me from really knowing both of these characters. Their slow burn romance is sweet and gooey, but as I’m not much of a romance fan, it got a little repetitive – but that’s just me. Other reviewers were big fans of their relationship.

The story offers plenty of tense, action-packed moments and a few graphic medical scenes that may cause some readers to cringe. It’s not exactly the novel I’d expected, but still an enjoyable read with a satisfying ending.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

WWW Wednesday: What Am I Reading? #amreading

WWW Wednesday is a meme from Sam at Taking On A World Of Words

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

I can’t tell you the last time I read a book set in the late 70s – especially a YA book – and I couldn’t resist this cover. I’m about 40% into the story, and the author has a real talent for vivid descriptions.

Set in Northern California in the late ’70s, this timeless coming-of-age story examines the nature of evil, the art of storytelling, and the possibility of redemption.

Fifteen-year-old RJ Armante has never known a life outside his dead-end hometown of Arcangel, CA. The Blackjacks still rule as they have for generations, luring the poorest kids into their monopoly on petty crime. For years, they’ve left RJ alone…until now.

When the Blackjacks come knocking, they want RJ to prey upon an old loner. But RJ is at his breaking point. It’s not just about the gang who rules the town. It’s about Charley, his younger brother, who is disabled. It’s about Roxanne, the girl he can’t reach. It’s about the kids in his crew who have nothing to live for. If RJ is to resist, he must fight to free Arcangel of its past.

Alexa is reading HMS Lanternfish to me. I’ve missed these characters – root monsters! – and their high seas adventures.

The Lanternfish crew completed their original mission, but got exposed to a more global problem. An entire continent is at war, headed up by a head-strong young king with dreams of power, and pushed from behind by a mysterious religious order known as the Fulminites.

Rather than let their country fall under the iron boot of conquest, James and his crew set sail once more to see what kind of muscle Lanternfish can lend to the war effort. Acting precariously under an unofficial charter as a privateer, even his allies aren’t always his friends.

HMS Lanternfish explores new worlds on its way to war, and drifts considerably off course. It features an international crew of characters, and for fans of the first book, the root monsters are back, too. Tall ships, a few con games, martial arts, and everything you loved about the original book is all returning.

Hoist the colors and wheel out the guns. Lanternfish is taking to the high seas once more.

Over the weekend I finished Dustborn. This postapocalyptic world is absolutely brutal, and resources are scarce. It has one of the most jaw-dropping twists I’ve come across. I doubt any reader would have seen it coming.

Delta of Dead River sets out to rescue her family from a ruthless dictator rising to power in the Wastes and discovers a secret that will reshape her world in this postapocalyptic Western mashup for fans of Mad Max and Gunslinger Girl.

Delta of Dead River has always been told to hide her back, where a map is branded on her skin to a rumored paradise called the Verdant. In a wasteland plagued by dust squalls, geomagnetic storms, and solar flares, many would kill for it—even if no one can read it. So when raiders sent by a man known as the General attack her village, Delta suspects he is searching for her. 

Delta sets out to rescue her family but quickly learns that in the Wastes no one can be trusted—perhaps not even her childhood friend, Asher, who has been missing for nearly a decade. If Delta can trust Asher, she just might decode the map and trade evidence of the Verdant to the General for her family. What Delta doesn’t count on is what waits at the Verdant: a long-forgotten secret that will shake the foundation of her entire world.

Next up is a MG fantasy. I don’t read much MG unless it’s an author I’ve followed from YA or adult books, and Foody is one of my favorite YA fantasy authors. This series (and cover!) looks adorable.

A boy who accidentally bonds with a magical Beast must set off on an adventure in the mysterious Woods.

The last thing Barclay Thorne ever wanted was an adventure.

Thankfully, as an apprentice to the town’s mushroom farmer, Barclay need only work hard and follow the rules to one day become the head mushroom farmer himself. No danger required. But then Barclay accidentally breaks his town’s most sacred rule: never ever EVER stray into the Woods, for within the Woods lurk vicious magical Beasts.

To Barclay’s horror, he faces a fate far worse than being eaten: he unwittingly bonds with a Beast and is run out of town by an angry mob. Determined to break this bond and return home, Barclay journeys to find the mysterious town of Lore Keepers, people who have also bonded with Beasts and share their powers.

But after making new friends, entering a dangerous apprenticeship exam, and even facing the legendary Beast of the Woods, Barclay must make a difficult choice: return to the home and rules he’s always known, or embrace the adventure awaiting him. 

Academic Curveball (Braxton Campus Mysteries #1) by James J. Cudney #bookreview #cozymystery #TuesdayBookBlog

When Kellan Ayrwick returns home for his father’s retirement from Braxton College, he finds a dead body in Diamond Hall’s stairwell.

Unfortunately, Kellan has a connection to the victim, and so do several members of his family. Could one of them be guilty of murder? Soon after, the college’s athletic program receives mysterious donations, a nasty blog denounces his father and someone attempts to change students’ grades.

Someone is playing games on campus, but none of the facts add up. With the help of his eccentric and trouble-making nana, Kellan tries to stay out of the sheriff’s way. And if that wasn’t enough already, his own past comes spiraling back to change his life forever.

In the debut novel in the Braxton Campus Mysteries Series, you’ll discover a cozy, secluded Pennsylvania village full of quirky, sarcastic and nosy residents.

I have to be honest – I haven’t read many cozy mysteries, but a small town college setting, the adorable cover, and great reviews drew me to this book.

I immediately liked Kellan. He’s a fairly recent widower with an adorable young daughter who’s trying to do the single dad thing, while also keeping the peace with his in-laws. When he travels to his hometown for his father’s retirement party, it’s clear there’s also friction in his own family. The reader doesn’t have to wait long for the action to begin. A body is discovered at the party and what looks to be an accident is soon revealed to be a murder. In several mysteries I’ve read, it’s pretty obvious who the murderer is early in the story, but that’s not the case in this novel. Several characters have a motive (even some within Kellan’s family), and I was kept guessing until almost the end.

While investigating on his own (and finding himself in some interesting situations), Kellan reconnects with some old friends and a girlfriend. Learning his backstory gave me more insight to his character, and I liked him even more. He also ponders making some life changes in the best interests of his family. Speaking of his family, shout-out to Nana D, who gave me several laugh out loud moments. She’s a feisty, intelligent lady who speaks her mind – and also makes repeated attempts to fix up her grandson with questionable choices in women.

I’m so glad I picked up this cozy mystery – the author has a new fan of the series. I have to comment on that cliffhanger at the end – it was a doozy and completely out of left field. And I absolutely need to know what happens next!

#BookClub, #Cooking, and a #BookReview

Happy Monday! A week ago we were just clawing our way out of snow. Today? Flooding all around. Part of our street is blocked off, but the good news is that there’s no more rain in the forecast.

My book club met last week. Remember, our club doesn’t read the same novel – we have a monthly theme and each of us choose our own books in that category. The theme for February was Pick Your Poison: YA Romance or Horror. Do I really need to tell you what I chose? I was surprised at the number of folks who chose horror since some of them are diehard romance fans, but they decided to step out of their comfort zone. I wasn’t one of those people. Below are some of the choices for the month.

Hubby and I tried another new recipe Saturday night – Grilled Chicken Breasts with Satay Sauce. Satay sauce has a peanut butter base with some other ingredients mixed in. I admit I was skeptical – peanut butter and chicken? It’s like chicken waffles – it makes no sense to me and seems like an unlikely combination. The verdict? We both decided it was a keeper. Chicken breasts never turn out well for us – they tend to be too dry no matter what we try, but having this sauce made a huge difference. If you’d like to give it a shot, the link is HERE

I had a wonderful surprise last week! Author Jacquie Biggar reviewed Subject A36 on her blog HERE. Great minds were thinking alike I guess because I just finished reading Virtually Gone, her techno-thriller released last year. It was full of suspense and characters I immediately embraced – the review will be posted here later in the month.

Have a safe, healthy – and warm – week!

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A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth #bookreview #urbanfantasy #YA

The Cruel Prince meets City of Bones in this thrilling urban fantasy set in the magical underworld of Toronto that follows a queer cast of characters racing to stop a serial killer whose crimes could expose the hidden world of faeries to humans.

Choose your player.

The “ironborn” half-fae outcast of her royal fae family.
A tempestuous Fury, exiled to earth from the Immortal Realm and hellbent on revenge.
A dutiful fae prince, determined to earn his place on the throne.
The prince’s brooding guardian, burdened with a terrible secret.

For centuries, the Eight Courts of Folk have lived among us, concealed by magic and bound by law to do no harm to humans. This arrangement has long kept peace in the Courts—until a series of gruesome and ritualistic murders rocks the city of Toronto and threatens to expose faeries to the human world.

Four queer teens, each who hold a key piece of the truth behind these murders, must form a tenuous alliance in their effort to track down the mysterious killer behind these crimes. If they fail, they risk the destruction of the faerie and human worlds alike. If that’s not bad enough, there’s a war brewing between the Mortal and Immortal Realms, and one of these teens is destined to tip the scales. The only question is: which way?

Wish them luck. They’re going to need it.

One of the biggest reasons I requested this book from NetGalley was the diverse cast of queer characters. And I wasn’t disappointed – the representation is outstanding.

I haven’t read many books involving the fae, so I always appreciate when the author doesn’t assume readers know all the ‘rules’. I can’t say I’ve ever read a fantasy novel set in Canada (Toronto), so it was a very welcome change. With this being urban fantasy, the teen fae come across as genuine, mentioning pop culture, hanging out at coffee houses, texting each other, and generally getting into trouble with their parents. I have to commend the author for getting me to see and understand so much about these characters in just a few sentences. Other authors I’ve come across have written paragraphs of description, and I’d still feel like I didn’t know the characters even close to this level.

At the beginning of the story, most of the main characters are in different locations, and I enjoyed getting to know each of them (Arlo, Nausicaa, Vehan, and Aurelian) and their personalities through their different POVs before they joined together later in the story. All the POVs are very distinct and when I set the book down and came back to it later, I immediately knew who was speaking. The author also gives a POV of the villain – it was interesting being in his head and getting glimpses of what was going on with the murders of iron-born teens.

Snarky characters capture my heart every time, so Nausicaa was an immediate favorite for me. She’s dark and dangerous, but there’s a good heart inside – buried waaayyy down deep, but it’s there. Celadon, who gave me plenty of laughs, is also at the top of my list, and I would have loved more of him.

External conflict abounds – murders, a brewing war, secrets about Arlo and her magic – but a good bit of internal conflict with each character also contributes to a richly layered plot. It’s not really a secret who the villains are in this novel, but there’s a reveal at the end that isn’t that shocking. This person is rotten to the core, and I hope very bad and painful things happen to them in the next book. Just sayin’.

The popular comp titles are very appropriate, so fans of both The Cruel Prince and City of Bones should enjoy this series. I’d highly recommend it to fantasy fans looking for more diverse reads.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Eternal Road: The Final Stop by John W. Howell #bookreview #supernatural #historical #TuesdayBookBlog

James Wainwright picks up a hitchhiker and discovers two things 1. The woman he picks up is his childhood sweetheart, only Seventeen years older. 2. He is no longer of this world.

James began a road trip alone in his 1956 Oldsmobile. He stops for a hitchhiker only to discover she is his childhood sweetheart, Sam, who disappeared seventeen years before. James learns from Sam falling asleep miles back caused him to perish in a one-car accident. He also comes to understand that Sam was taken and murdered all those years ago, and now she has come back to help him find his eternal home.

The pair visit a number of times and places and are witness to a number of historical events. The rules dictate that they do no harm to the time continuum. Trying to be careful, they inadvertently come to the attention of Lucifer who would love to have their souls as his subjects. They also find a threat to human survival and desperately need to put in place the fix necessary to save mankind.

The question becomes, will James find his eternal home in grace or lose the battle with Satan for his immortal soul and the future of human life with it? If you like time-travel, adventure, mystery, justice, and the supernatural, this story is for you.

Never have I come across such a blend of genres in a book – supernatural, paranormal, theological, mystery, sci-fi, historical. I would have told you it couldn’t be done. But this author pulls it off with style.

The overall premise is a bit sad with MCs James and Sam both being deceased and leaving this world behind. Sam’s life came to a tragic end at the age of seven, but she’s come back years later to escort childhood friend James to his final resting place. That’s where their adventure begins. Time-traveling in a snazzy 1956 Oldsmobile, they visit some historical sites and meet a few well-known characters along the way. But they don’t just venture into the past, their travels take them several centuries into the future as well. Lucifer himself even shows up in the Sin City of Las Vegas – where else would he be?

I enjoyed the “rules” of the plane between Earth and the afterlife, and they caused some humorous and awkward moments between Sam and James. Both characters are delightful, and I was particularly happy to see something resolved in Sam’s life. This story evokes many emotions and, as a mom, I nearly needed a tissue a couple times. The ending is beautiful and wraps things up nicely – but I can also see the potential for another book in the series, which I would immediately grab. A unique and fascinating take on the afterlife.

#AmWriting, #Cooking, and Escape Rooms

I’ve mentioned how I write out of sequence then put the chapters in order and fill in the holes. For the past month, I’ve been focused on getting the first several chapters to my beta reader. On Saturday, I looked at the other files I haven’t touched in months and did a double take. I’ve written a lot more than I thought! Considering I feel like I’ve been working on this sequel to Subject A36 since the dawn of time, I felt like doing a Snoopy dance. I don’t know how much I’ll keep or change until I dig into the files, but at least I’ve made more progress than I thought. Yay me!

Saturday night cooking continues. Hubby makes fantastic steak, whether on the grill or using a grill pan. I’m a chef’s worst nightmare – I prefer mine closer to the well side of medium well. After experimenting with different techniques, hubby perfected my steak a few years ago, and I honestly prefer his to most I’ve had in restaurants. Steak was the main course for Saturday’s dinner, and he wanted a mushroom sauce to go with his filet. I tried a new recipe with mushrooms, garlic, olive oil, and gorgonzola, but it wasn’t a flavorful as he’d hoped (I still can’t taste much of anything). Maybe we’ll try to tweak the recipe if we give it another chance.

I’m a fan of escape rooms and have done several with my family. They can either make you feel like your IQ is genius level or you’re the dumbest person alive. My oldest son and his girlfriend shift into beast mode before entering an escape room, and I haven’t seen anything stump them yet. With her in Canada and him in KY, they haven’t been able to see each other much over the past year (stupid pandemic!), but they found an escape room company online. I had no idea it was possible to do them virtually, but they gave it a try. If you’re into game nights with family or friends from a distance, maybe you’d want to give it a try HERE.

Stay safe and healthy and have a great week!

Vanished by Mark Bierman #bookreview #thriller

Tragedy . . . heartache . . . how much more can Tyler Montgomery and John Webster take? This missions trip, the “healing” one, has only added fresh layers of pain. Construction of an orphanage in Haiti’s northwest . . . yes. But a doomed rescue operation, human traffickers, human anomalies, extreme personal danger . . . risk of death? They hadn’t signed up for any of those.

Turning their backs on the crisis, however, is unthinkable, it’s just not who they are.

I have a difficult time reading about cruelty of any kind toward children or animals, so I knew going in parts of this book would be a challenge for me. It’s a horrific reality that human trafficking exists in this day and age and is actually quite common in some areas. So common that when a young girl is abducted by slave traders in Haiti, very little effort goes into trying to find her. Tyler, grieving the death of his wife, and his father-in-law, John, are shocked at the lack of response and vow to find the girl and return her to her mother no matter what. With two Americans in an unfamiliar country taking on such an incredibly dangerous task it won’t be an easy quest. Who can they trust? Where do they even start?

I’d be lying if I said this is an easy read – it’s absolutely not. Tyler’s and John’s journey is filled with obstacles and dead ends, harsh truths, unsavory characters, and violence. Even when their own lives are in danger, neither is willing to abandon their search for this child. The subplots are just as compelling and tragic. Although it portrays very real atrocities that occur far too often, this story is also full of hope and inspiration. There is still good in the world and people who are willing to go to battle against evil.

The author does a wonderful job dealing with such a tragic topic, and it’s clear the novel was thoroughly researched. Vanished is incredibly thought-provoking and will leave a lasting impression.

WWW Wednesday: What Am I Reading? #amreading

WWW Wednesday is a meme from Sam at Taking On A World Of Words

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m literally just starting this book today, so I really can’t say anything about it. You guys know what a science geek I am, so at the mention of genetic engineering I was immediately hooked. I’m excited to see where this book goes.

Sixteen-year-old Nate is a GEM—Genetically Engineered Medi-tissue created by the scientists of Gathos City as a cure for the elite from the fatal lung rot ravaging the population. As a child, he was smuggled out of the laboratory where he was held captive and into the Withers—a quarantined, lawless region. Nate manages to survive by using his engineering skills to become a Tinker, fixing broken tech in exchange for food or a safe place to sleep. When he meets Reed, a kind and fiercely protective boy that makes his heart race, and his misfit gang of scavengers, Nate finds the family he’s always longed for—even if he can’t risk telling them what he is.

But Gathos created a genetic failsafe in their GEMs—a flaw that causes their health to rapidly deteriorate as they age unless they are regularly dosed with medication controlled by Gathos City. As Nate’s health declines, his hard-won freedom is put in jeopardy. Violence erupts across the Withers, his illegal supply of medicine is cut off, and a vicious attack on Reed threatens to expose his secret. With time running out, Nate is left with only two options: work for a shadowy terrorist organization that has the means to keep him alive, or stay — and die — with the boy he loves. 

I’ve been listening to Harbinger, the third book in the Wake-Robin Ridge series. If you’ve read these books, you’ve no doubt fallen in love with Rabbit. This young boy has a quite a reputation for stealing hearts.

Continuing in the tradition of Wake-Robin Ridge and A Boy Named Rabbit, Marcia Meara’s North Carolina mountain series takes a shivery turn with the Appalachian Legend of Ol’ Shuck, the Harbinger of Death.

“. . . he felt the wet slide of the dog’s burning hot tongue on his face, and the scrape of its razor sharp teeth against the top of his head. A white-hot agony of crushing pain followed, as the jaws began to close.”

The wine-red trillium that carpets the forests of the North Carolina Mountains is considered a welcome harbinger of spring—but not all such omens are happy ones. An Appalachian legend claims the Black Dog, or Ol’ Shuck, as he’s often called, is a harbinger of death. If you see him, you or someone you know is going to die.

But what happens when Ol’ Shuck starts coming for you in your dreams? Nightmares of epic proportions haunt the deacon of the Light of Grace Baptist Church, and bring terror into the lives of everyone around him. Even MacKenzie Cole and his adopted son, Rabbit, find themselves pulled into danger.

When Sheriff Raleigh Wardell asks Mac and Rabbit to help him solve a twenty-year-old cold case, Rabbit’s visions of a little girl lost set them on a path that soon collides with that of a desperate man being slowly driven mad by guilt.

As Rabbit’s gift of the Sight grows ever more powerful, his commitment to those who seek justice grows as well, even when their pleas come from beyond the grave.

I just finished Namesake last night, and what a conclusion it was. The last book in this duology didn’t disappoint.

Trader. Fighter. Survivor.

With the Marigold ship free of her father, Fable and its crew were set to start over. That freedom is short-lived when she becomes a pawn in a notorious thug’s scheme. In order to get to her intended destination she must help him to secure a partnership with Holland, a powerful gem trader who is more than she seems.

As Fable descends deeper into a world of betrayal and deception she learns that her mother was keeping secrets, and those secrets are now putting the people Fable cares about in danger. If Fable is going to save them then she must risk everything, including the boy she loves and the home she has finally found.

Filled with action, emotion, and lyrical writing, New York Times bestselling author Adrienne Young returns with Namesake, the final book in the captivating Fable duology. 

Next up is a postapocalyptic novel. I read another book by this author that just wasn’t for me, but the comp titles and description for Dustborn intrigued me. I recently read another postapocalyptic Western mashup by Jessica Bakkers that made me a fan of this unusual genre.

Delta of Dead River sets out to rescue her family from a ruthless dictator rising to power in the Wastes and discovers a secret that will reshape her world in this postapocalyptic Western mashup for fans of Mad Max and Gunslinger Girl.

Delta of Dead River has always been told to hide her back, where a map is branded on her skin to a rumored paradise called the Verdant. In a wasteland plagued by dust squalls, geomagnetic storms, and solar flares, many would kill for it—even if no one can read it. So when raiders sent by a man known as the General attack her village, Delta suspects he is searching for her. 

Delta sets out to rescue her family but quickly learns that in the Wastes no one can be trusted—perhaps not even her childhood friend, Asher, who has been missing for nearly a decade. If Delta can trust Asher, she just might decode the map and trade evidence of the Verdant to the General for her family. What Delta doesn’t count on is what waits at the Verdant: a long-forgotten secret that will shake the foundation of her entire world.

Blood Sworn (Ashlords #2) by Scott Reintgen #bookreview #TuesdayBookBlog #YA #fantasy

Three cultures clash in all out war–against each other and against the gods–in the second book of this fantasy duology that’s sure to capture fans of The Hunger Games and An Ember in the Ashes.

The Races are over. War has begun.

Ashlord and Longhand armies battle for control of the Empire as Dividian rebels do their best to survive the crossfire. This is no longer a game. It’s life or death.

Adrian, Pippa, and Imelda each came out of the Races with questions about their role in the ongoing feud. The deeper they dig, the clearer it is that the hatred between their peoples has an origin point: the gods.

Their secrets are long-buried, but one disgruntled deity is ready to unveil the truth. Every whisper leads back to the underworld. What are the gods hiding there? As the sands of the Empire shift, these heroes will do everything they can to aim their people at the true enemy. But is it already too late?

The first book in this series bowled me over with its inventive world-building, Hunger Games-ish race, and three characters that were so easy to root for, so requesting an ARC of the second book in this duology was a no-brainer.

In Ashlords, war, rebellion, and unrest were stirring, and this sequel is set several months later after the war has started. Where Ashlords primarily focused on the race, Bloodsworn is all about the battle and delves deeply into the seven gods and how they’ve affected society. The three main characters are now back with their own people and on opposite sides of the feud. Pacing is a bit slow at the beginning, but it gave me time to regain my footing in this world and catch up with Adrian, Pippa, and Imelda and learn the new roles they now played in the war. As with the first book, it’s impossible for me to choose a favorite among them. Adrian and Pippa were both used as pawns in different ways, but are now strong enough to forge their own path. Imelda, once considered an underdog, proves it’s a mistake to underestimate her. They all show tremendous growth over the span of the series, and their arcs do justice to these engaging characters.

With the three MCs having separate storylines, I wondered how and when they’d intertwine. A couple of game-changing plot twists soon answered my question, but the author also holds back some suprises until nearly the end. Tense, fast-paced battle scenes kept me glued to the pages, and the slivers of romance among all the fighting are actually kind of sweet and don’t overshadow the main plot.

This is an exciting, complex, original series sure to engage both YA and adult readers. Although the story was complete and the ending satisfying, I’d have loved another book. Just a hint to the author!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.