Tag Archives: 4 stars

Book Review: The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross

Queen's Rising

The Queen’s Rising

Release date: February 6th 2018

4 stars

When her seventeenth summer solstice arrives, Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron.
Growing up in the southern Kingdom of Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her for such a life. While some are born with an innate talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she belatedly chose to study knowledge. However, despite all her preparations, Brienna’s greatest fear comes true—the solstice does not go according to plan and she is left without a patron.
Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, and with no other choices, she accepts. But there is much more to his story, and Brienna soon discovers that he has sought her out for his own vengeful gain. For there is a dangerous plot being planned to overthrow the king of Maevana—the archrival kingdom of Valenia—and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the northern throne. And others are involved—some closer to Brienna than she realizes.
With war brewing between the two lands, Brienna must choose whose side she will remain loyal to—passion or blood. Because a queen is destined to rise and lead the battle to reclaim the crown. The ultimate decision Brienna must determine is: Who will be that queen?

It really didn’t take long for me to fall in love with this book. I really enjoyed the school scenes at the beginning, getting to know Brienna and her fellow students, her sisters, as they all prepared to ‘passion’ in their chosen field(wit, drama, art, music, or knowledge). There was the immediate mystery to why Brienna was accepted to the school when the headmistress has already selected the five students and she didn’t have an aptitude for any of the five passions, as well as who Brienna’s father was and why her grandfather refused to tell her his name.

I really liked Brienna. She was making the most of her situation, knowing she wasn’t fairing well in any of the fields at the school but she always tried so hard. It couldn’t have been easy to find the motivation to try so hard when she was always suspicious that she didn’t get into the school on her own merits but she never gave up. I thought she was really relatable in that way. I also loved seeing her finding out more about her heritage and the growth she showed.

I do wish we’d gotten to see more of the passion sisters after they’d been chosen by their patrons because the beginning scenes at the school were so much fun. But I could understand why it focused on Brienna’s journey. She was the main character and important to the brewing rebellion.

With the inclusion at the beginning of family trees and lists of characters, passions, etc. I was expecting a great, complicated world and it was definitely there. It had history, families ruling over different kingdoms, rebellions, and I can see why it’s been said it’s good for YA Game of Thrones fans, though there was a lot less violence. There was a lot of political intrigue that was interwoven through Brienna’s discovery of her heritage and finding out more about the mysterious patron who’d chosen her.

I’m really excited to see where this series is going to go next.

*I received a copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Batman – Nightwalker by Marie Lu

Nightwalker

Batman Nightwalker

Release date: January 2nd 2018

4 stars

Before he was Batman, he was Bruce Wayne. A reckless boy willing to break the rules for a girl who may be his worst enemy.
The Nightwalkers are terrorizing Gotham City, and Bruce Wayne is next on their list.
One by one, the city’s elites are being executed as their mansions’ security systems turn against them, trapping them like prey. Meanwhile, Bruce is turning eighteen and about to inherit his family’s fortune, not to mention the keys to Wayne Enterprises and all the tech gadgetry his heart could ever desire. But after a run-in with the police, he’s forced to do community service at Arkham Asylum, the infamous prison that holds the city’s most brutal criminals.
Madeleine Wallace is a brilliant killer . . . and Bruce’s only hope.
In Arkham, Bruce meets Madeleine, a brilliant girl with ties to the Nightwalkers. What is she hiding? And why will she speak only to Bruce? Madeleine is the mystery Bruce must unravel. But is he getting her to divulge her secrets, or is he feeding her the information she needs to bring Gotham City to its knees? Bruce will walk the dark line between trust and betrayal as the Nightwalkers circle closer.

I will admit, Batman is not my favourite hero but I love Marie Lu so I was excited to see how she would write a teenage Batman to be. She’s a fantastic writer and the mythology was well handled. I liked the idea of a reckless teenage Bruce having to work at Arkham as community service and also seeing Bruce getting more invested in Wayne Enterprises as he was graduating. My favourite thing was the friendship between Bruce, Dianne, and Harvey.

This Bruce was a lot less broody than I was used to from the movies I’ve seen. He was more open, still secretive, but he seemed more playful with his friends and Alfred. He could be frustrating when he thought he knew better than the adults and wouldn’t listen that Madeleine was dangerous. Even as a teenager, the protectiveness of Batman was ingrained into him as he worried about Madeleine, a girl his age in the asylum, and Harvey, his friend with an abusive father.

The dynamics between characters were so amazing in this book, which was to be expected since it was Marie Lu. She writes absolutely amazing character dynamics. The trio of Bruce, Dianne, and Harvey in their last summer before college were an interesting combo and I really loved their friendship. Bruce and Alfred were great, as always in any Batman medium I’ve seen or read. The dynamic between Bruce and Madeleine was as interesting as it was frustrating. She was playing him and he was letting her but their conversations were intriguing.

The plot focused on the Nightwalkers, a gang, and Bruce trying to get information from Madeleine to help the police put an end to the murders happening in Gotham. It fit it well with a superhero plot and was entertaining. With two DC Icons books in the series down, both have made me excited for the next two to come.

*I received a copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: The Dangerous Art of Blending In by Angelo Surmelis

Dangerous Art of Blending in

The Dangerous Art of Blending In

Release date: January 30 2018

4 stars

Seventeen-year-old Evan Panos doesn’t know where he fits in. His strict Greek mother refuses to see him as anything but a disappointment. His quiet, workaholic father is a staunch believer in avoiding any kind of conflict. And his best friend Henry has somehow become distractingly attractive over the summer.
Tired, isolated, scared—Evan’s only escape is drawing in an abandoned church that feels as lonely as he is. And, yes, he kissed one guy over the summer. But it’s his best friend Henry who’s now proving to be irresistible. It’s Henry who suddenly seems interested in being more than friends. And it’s Henry who makes him believe that he’s more than his mother’s harsh words and terrifying abuse. But as things with Henry heat up, and his mother’s abuse escalates, Evan has to decide how to find his voice in a world where he has survived so long by avoiding attention at all costs.

This was a hard, emotional book to read but one that, when I was done, felt like I had just read something very important. It wasn’t just a coming out story about a boy finding his sexuality but also about telling the truth about an abusive parent. I believe this was the first book I’ve read with an abusive mother toward a son and it was chilling(as it would be no matter what) to read how much this mother hated her son.

Evan was the type of character who liked to keep everything in neat little boxes. He didn’t like his worlds to mingle. With it becoming harder to hide the abuse and his growing crush on his best friend, Henry, his worlds were starting to mix and it was obviously affecting him. He really just wanted to live his life but he couldn’t, not safely in his own home because of his mother. His father worked so much so he was rarely around and, when he was, he would try to step in but he only ever stopped her for the moment. It was not a healthy situation for Evan.

The book also had a lot of great, positive dynamics. The friendship to more of Evan and Henry was great, not sudden but a slow struggle. Henry’s family was great, funny, and I wish we’d gotten to see more of them. Every person in Evan’s life had some kind of impact of his, even if it was just by staying silent, and all of it was causing Evan’s perfectly separated lines to blend into each other.

What made the book so hard to read was that every time it seemed like something was going right for Evan, there would be something bad right around the corner. The kid couldn’t catch a break. I liked that he was able to have some escape with his art and how connected he was to it. This is a book where I highly recommend reading the author’s notes after because they add a lot to the book as well.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Love, Hate, and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

Love, Hate, and Other Filters

Love, Hate, and Other Filters

Release date: January 16 2018

4 stars

A searing #OwnVoices coming-of-age debut in which an Indian-American Muslim teen confronts Islamophobia and a reality she can neither explain nor escape–perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Jacqueline Woodson, and Adam Silvera.
Maya Aziz is torn between futures: the one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter (i.e.; staying nearby in Chicago and being matched with a “suitable” Muslim boy), and the one where she goes to film school in New York City–and maybe, just maybe, kisses a guy she’s only known from afar. There’s the also the fun stuff, like laughing with her best friend Violet, making on-the-spot documentaries, sneaking away for private swimming lessons at a secret pond in the woods. But her world is shattered when a suicide bomber strikes in the American heartland; by chance, he shares Maya’s last name. What happens to the one Muslim family in town when their community is suddenly consumed with hatred and fear?

The second I started reading this book, it felt like it was very personal and important story for the author. It was a little different than I first thought it would be, with the focus being more on the main character, her family, and the conflict within them than the aftermath of the incident mentioned in the synopsis. It held important messages so relevant to today about not judging someone based on their looks, race, religion.

Maya was caught in between pleasing her parents and doing what would make her happy. They had one view for her future and she wanted another. She loved film-making, loved seeing the world through her camera, and all she wanted was to go to NYU and study film. It created a clash between two generations with different values that was so relatable. I loved her relationship with Hina, her aunt that was more free-spirited than her parents and someone she could turn to for help or for some insight on her parents.

The romance was really sweet, but also another source of conflict between Maya and her parents. They wanted her to be with a nice, Muslim boy but she had feelings for a white boy. Both boys were sweet and she probably could have been happy with either of them if she’d felt a connection with both. Kareem was very sweet and respectful toward Maya, showing her the world outside of her small town, but Maya already had feelings for someone else. Phil was also very sweet and I liked that it was friendship that developed into something more, and that it wasn’t easy for her to go against what she knew she parents expected.

The plot centered mostly on Maya’s struggles to please her parents while also following her dreams, but it also showed how hate and fear can make people leap to conclusions or use it to justify their actions. Maya and her parents were the victims of Islamophobia on multiple occasions and it was a reminder that no matter how long they’ve been a part of the community, no matter how much good they’ve good, or how respected they’ve become, some people will always only see them as their race or their religion.

As mentioned, it was a very important and relevant book. It’s one that deserves a lot of attention leading up to its release and after.

*I received a copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Gunslinger Girl by Lindsay Ely

Gunslinger Girl

Gunslinger Girl

Release date: January 2nd 2018

4 stars

Seventeen-year-old Serendipity “Pity” Jones inherited two things from her mother: a pair of six shooters and perfect aim. She’s been offered a life of fame and fortune in Cessation, a glittering city where lawlessness is a way of life. But the price she pays for her freedom may be too great….
In this extraordinary debut from Lyndsay Ely, the West is once again wild after a Second Civil War fractures the U.S. into a broken, dangerous land. Pity’s struggle against the dark and twisted underbelly of a corrupt city will haunt you long after the final bullet is shot.

I love westerns so I was really excited for this futuristic throwback to the Old West. The world building of a dystopian wild west was really intriguing and I loved the characters, especially the main character of Pity. She was very badass and she showed a lot of growth through the book. The book was fast paced and impossible to put down.

Pity was tired of the way she was treated at home, abused by her father and seen as almost worthless by him and her brothers since she was a girl. She had only one friend and they had plans to escape together when her father announced his plans to marry Pity off. She met many great, interesting characters along her way to and in Cessation, along with plenty of action where she got to show off her skills as an excellent sharpshooter. She would be someone that anyone would want by their side during a gun fight. I loved seeing her learn to open up to trusting new people and struggle with huge decisions.

There were so many great characters that I found myself getting invested in and I wanted to know more about them. The more Pity got to know them, the more interesting the dynamics got. Some standouts were Max, the love interest; Finn, Pity’s best friend; and Selene, the city’s ruler.

The book was fast paced, as mentioned, and there was plenty of action. It didn’t take long to get lost in the pages and the politics and setting of Cessation reminded me a bit of the Capitol in the Hunger Games. There was a good balance between moments of friendship and lightness, and the ruthlessness expected from a western in a dystopian setting. This book has definitely made me excited to see what Lyndsay Ely comes out with next.

*I received a copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed

The Nowhere Girls

The Nowhere Girls

Release date: October 10th 2017

4 stars

Three misfits come together to avenge the rape of a fellow classmate and in the process trigger a change in the misogynist culture at their high school transforming the lives of everyone around them in this searing and timely story. Who are the Nowhere Girls? They’re everygirl. But they start with just three: Grace Salter is the new girl in town, whose family was run out of their former community after her southern Baptist preacher mom turned into a radical liberal after falling off a horse and bumping her head. Rosina Suarez is the queer punk girl in a conservative Mexican immigrant family, who dreams of a life playing music instead of babysitting her gaggle of cousins and waitressing at her uncle’s restaurant. Erin Delillo is obsessed with two things: marine biology and Star Trek: The Next Generation, but they aren’t enough to distract her from her suspicion that she may in fact be an android. When Grace learns that Lucy Moynihan, the former occupant of her new home, was run out of town for having accused the popular guys at school of gang rape, she’s incensed that Lucy never had justice. For their own personal reasons, Rosina and Erin feel equally deeply about Lucy’s tragedy, so they form an anonymous group of girls at Prescott High to resist the sexist culture at their school, which includes boycotting sex of any kind with the male students. Told in alternating perspectives, this groundbreaking novel is an indictment of rape culture and explores with bold honesty the deepest questions about teen girls and sexuality.

There seem to be a lot of books coming out that tackle the issue of rape culture, and real life proving that there can never be enough of these types of books. There were three very relatable main characters but we were also introduced to many others with small snippets in many POVs of many different girls who were being affected by the events of the book. I really liked seeing these girls come together, fight for each other, and have such open discussions with each other.

Grace, Rosina, and Erin were the three girls we spent the most time with, the main characters. Grace was the new girl, having moved with her parents after her mother needed to find a new job; Rosina was the eldest girl in a large, extended family so she was overwhelmed with family duties; Erin had Asperger’s and was dealing with a mother who spent more time on autism chat rooms than understanding her own daughter. These three were the girls who were behind The Nowhere Girls, giving girls at their school a safe place to speak their minds. The friendship that formed between them was amazing.

I loved all the additional snippets from other characters, some agreeing with the group and some not. We saw girls from all different perspectives and I thought it was very realistic that not everyone agreed with everything, even if they agreed with some of it. I also loved the secret meetings and how open the dialogue was between the girls during these meetings. It was great to see the girls actually talking and educating each other instead of judging and bullying, though there were still a few times a comment would slip in.

There was also a blog run by one of the male characters that we saw posts from, countering and commenting on what the girls were doing. It was disgusting and sad, especially knowing there are people who agree with it. It was good that we saw decent male characters in the book as well so not every male was bad.

It was a slower read, mostly due to the heavy content. It’s not something that should be an easy read and it’s definitely one that will stick with readers.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: When It’s Real by Erin Watt

When It's Real

When It’s Real

4 stars

Meet Oakley Ford-teen celebrity, renowned pop star, child of famous movie stars, hottie with millions of fangirls… and restless troublemaker. On the surface he has it all, but with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry, and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley’s team decides it’s time for an intervention. The result: an image overhaul, complete with a fake girlfriend meant to show the world he’s settled down.
Enter seventeen-year-old Vaughn Bennett-devoted sister, part-time waitress, the definition of “normal.” Under ordinary circumstances she’d never have taken this gig, but with her family strapped for cash, she doesn’t have much of a choice. And for the money Oakley’s team is paying her, she figures she can put up with outlandish Hollywood parties and a team of publicists watching her every move. So what if she thinks Oakley’s a shallow, self-centered jerk? It’s not like they’re going to fall for each other in real life…right?

This book was very cute, perfect for a summer read or curling up under a blanket or in bed and just losing yourself in the characters and the plot. I do love the hate-to-love trope and I thought this book handled it very well. I loved the dynamics, not only between the two main characters, but between all of them. It was entertaining to read and very easy to completely lose myself in the story.

Vaughn was a good girl, never really in trouble, helping out at home, and when the opportunity to to pose as a teen celebrity’s girlfriend and take financial strain off her older sister came up, she had to say yes. I really liked her. She wasn’t afraid to speak up when Oakley treated her badly but, no matter how angry he could make her, she was still willing to listen to him when he opened up to her. Oakley was someone who’d had a lot of success at a young age and, while he was still young now, was in a bit of a creative drought. He needed to prove he was a serious artist to work with the best of the best and his team thought dating a ‘normal’ girl was the way to do that. I liked that there were little scenes early on to show he wasn’t just a jerk, there was a decent guy underneath his celebrity persona.

The pages really flew by, even at over 400 pages it was a quick read. I really liked seeing Oakley and Vaughn getting to know each other, getting on each other’s nerves, bickering then making up, everything they did was fun to read. Their relationship was what drove the plot so if the reader wasn’t too invested in their romance, fake or developing, they might not get as absorbed into the book as I did. I loved them and I’m very glad I have 3 of the Royals series to dive in to now that I’ve finished this one.

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Book Review: Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Long Way Down

Long Way Down

Release date: October 17 2017

4 stars

A cannon. A strap.
A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
A hammer
A tool
for RULE

Or, you can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he? As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually USED his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator? Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES. And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if WILL gets off that elevator.

This book was a fast read and I found it to be very unique. Told from the POV of Will in the verse style, the chapters were short but very engaging. It made it very easy to say one more chapter until the book was finished. Almost the whole book took place within the length of the elevator ride from the eighth floor to the lobby and it did so without feeling like the plot was being stretched out.

Will was someone I found to be a relatable character and he had a voice that really resonated, that stayed with me long after I closed the book. He was grieving for his brother and he wanted revenge, he knew he had to follow the rules his brother taught him and as long as he could focus on that, he had a purpose. He was hurting and angry and just wanted someone to pay.

I liked seeing who was going to come on to the elevator next and what they would add to the conversation. Each person had a connection to Will, even if he didn’t know it right away, and they all gave him and the reader something to think about. Jason Reynolds could have doubled the amount of floors and stops and I’m sure I still would have loved it because the conversations were so great and important.

The verse style worked well for the subject matter. It drew attention and highlighted the parts of the conversations that ended up sticking more in my mind and it made for a quick read. I wasn’t fully prepared for just how much this short book shook me but I know I won’t be forgetting it.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Fireblood by Elly Blake

Fireblood

Fireblood

Release date: September 12th 2017

4 stars

All hail the Fire Queen.
Against all odds, Ruby has defeated the villainous Frost King and melted his throne of ice. But the bloodthirsty Minax that was trapped inside is now haunting her kingdom and everyone she loves. The answers to its demise may lie to the south in Sudesia, the land of the Firebloods, and a country that holds the secrets to Ruby’s powers and past…
Despite warnings from her beloved Arcus, Ruby accompanies a roguish Fireblood named Kai to Sudesia, where she must master her control of fire in a series of trials to gain the trust of the suspicious Fire Queen. Only then can she hope to access the knowledge that could defeat the rampaging Minax—which grows closer every moment. But as sparks fly in her moments alone with Kai, Ruby no longer knows whom to trust. The fates of two kingdoms are now in her hands.

This sequel picked up not to long after Frostblood left off, with Arcus on the throne and Ruby attempting to navigate the Frostblood kingdom where many, most, people hate her and fear her. With the Minax loose in the kingdom, she was determined to find a way to stop it, to defeat it once and for all, but doing so would mean leaving Arcus and traveling to the Fireblood kingdom.

I really liked seeing the Fireblood kingdom and how different it was from the Frostblood one. There were many great additions in this sequel that made me like it even more than the first. Hopefully that trend keeps up and the third one is also amazing. I loved the introduction to Kai, his flirtation, his confidence, his backstory, his unwillingness to treat Ruby as fragile. He did need her just as much as she needed him and them training together and helping each other were great scenes. And there were many of them. I loved seeing the relationship between them, whatever it was turning into, develop.

Ruby was fierce in this book. In the first one, she had a lot of growth with regards to becoming stronger and trusting herself and her powers. In this one, it was more about her determination to fight and destroy to Minax, even if she still wasn’t convinced she was the prophesied Child of the Light. I loved seeing her learn to push her powers even more than in the first book and her learning more about the Firebloods.

I also loved the way the mythology has been worked into this series and continued to be important. It wasn’t just a quick explanation at the beginning of book one and then forgotten about, it was a huge part of the prophecy and was something that kept getting elaborated on through this sequel. I would definitely read a spin-off series of the Gods of this world. It’s going to be way too long until the next one comes out but at least we already have a title and cover!

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: The Great Pursuit by Wendy Higgins

Great Pursuit

The Great Pursuit

4 stars

Lochlanach has traded the great beast for something far more terrible, a Lashed enemy veiled in beauty, deception, and a vengeance passed down through generations: Rozaria Rocato. And she’s offering the hunter Paxton Seabolt power and acceptance he could never receive in his homeland. Pax must decide how far he’s willing to go under her tutelage, knowing she is the opponent of Princess Aerity Lochson.
In a land where traditionalists dread change, the Lochlan throne must contend with mysterious foes and traitors, while attempting to keep revolt at bay. As dire circumstances strike the royal family, matters of the castle are left in Aerity’s hands. It’s time to put aside her fears and grasp the reign, taking actions that have the potential to save or destroy her people.
One hunt has ended, but the pursuit for love and justice continue. In this sequel to The Great Hunt from New York Times bestselling author Wendy Higgins, political intrigue and romance intensify in another thrilling fantasy. Princess Aerity embraces a quest for identity and passion before making the ultimate sacrifice for her kingdom.

I loved the first book in this duology and the second was just as great. I couldn’t wait to dive back into this world with its great characters, and it was nice knowing it was a duology so I knew the end of this book was the end. Though I wouldn’t have complained if there was a third. I read this book quickly even though it was over 500 pages. It picked up soon after the first book left off, with Aerity engaged to the hunter who’d slain the beast and Paxton having run off now that his magic had been revealed.

Aerity had grown a lot in the first book and she showed even more growth in this book. She was always willing to put her kingdom and her people first, all her people. She didn’t always agree with the laws or opinions of her father and his generation, especially when it came to the Lashed(magic users). She didn’t want to marry but she would follow through with the agreement her father had made. I couldn’t blame her for wanting to go off on one last adventure to find Pax before the wedding.

I liked seeing the POVs of some of my other favourite characters, not just a back and forth between Aerity and Pax. Wyneth was struggling with moving off after the death of her betrothed at the very beginning of the first book, Vixen and Tiern were adorable as they tried to figure out their budding romance. It also gave the reader the chance to see what was happening in different locations so it felt more well-rounded.

The plot was even more intense this time around. The big bad was Rozario and she was not messing around. She had the beasts she’d created, she had an army, and she wanted destruction. Being the last book, I figured there would be a big battle and was worried for my favourite characters. There was a lot of action, romance, and this book was just a great read all around.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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