Blog Tour · Book Reviews · New Releases

Book Review: The Memories We Bury by H.A. Leuschel

The Memories We Bury

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author, H.A. Leuschel, for an honest review.

Genre: Fiction/Psychology/Suspense

Plot: An emotionally charged and captivating novel about the complexities of female friendship and motherhood.

Lizzie Thomson has landed her first job as a music teacher, and after a whirlwind romance with Markus, the newlywed couple move into a beautiful new home in the outskirts of Edinburgh. Lizzie quickly befriends their neighbour Morag, an elderly, resourceful yet lonely widow, who’s own children rarely visit her. Everything seems perfect in Lizzie’s life until she finds out she is pregnant and her relationship with both Morag and Markus change beyond her control.

Can Lizzie really trust Morag and why is Markus keeping secrets from her?

In ‘The Memories We Bury’ the author explores the dangerous bonds we can create with strangers and how past memories can cast long shadows over the present.

Opinion:

Why is it I seem to remember events that hurt me better than experiences id rather hold on to because they make me happy?”

The Memories We Bury is the first full novel by Helene Leuschel, but definitely not her first dive into psychological fiction. After reading her last collection of short stories, Manipulated Lives, I became obsessed with her ability to showcase the countless ways of manipulation that a person can find themselves victim to, or wield. Whether the manipulation is in a form of an abusive partner, a con man/woman, or a friend or family member being able to coerce their loved one into doing what they want, this author delivers a realistic and frighteningly detailed portrayal of such scenarios.

In this story, a young mother struggles to navigate parenthood with a reluctant and mostly absent husband, but finds friendship and guidance in her elderly neighbor. Together the two form a fast bond where the young mother, Lizzie, is able to find a mother figure in her neighbor, and where the neighbor, Morag, is able to feel of sense of purpose as a stand-in mother and grandmother. But as the two become closer and their lives begin to intertwine, the complexities surrounding motherhood and their pasts lead the women to a place that will be almost impossible to come back from.

What I love about H.A. Leuschel is her dedication to the development of her characters. They have distinct personalities that gives each of them a soft uniqueness, but are given a detailed background of family dynamics, trauma and experiences that adds to the overall framework of who they become. None of them are perfect, and they are all surely flawed in many ways, which makes them feel as genuine and raw as both you and I.

Lizzie is one of two women that this story focuses on. She is a young woman in her late 20’s who has just married a man who is walking confidence and charisma. Lizzie however, is an introvert and prefers to lose herself in the keys of a piano. They are a mismatched pair, but upon being introduced to them they seem to compliment each other well and bring a balance to their relationship. But as the story goes on, we quickly learn that her husband, Markus, is not Mr. Perfect. He is the typical arrogant and archaic type of salesman who talks down to his wife through quips and jokes, expects her to sit at home and run their household, and who always has a phone glued to his ear. Upon marrying, they discuss putting children off until they have had time to enjoy each other. But then, Lizzie gets pregnant.

Markus is reluctant to become a father and not ecstatic about the news, which leaves Lizzie to go through her pregnancy mostly alone. But with Markus working long hours or away on business trips, Lizzie begins to strike up a quick friendship with her sweet elderly neighbor, Morag.

‘There are no half measures with you, Morag’ I heard Pete’s voice in my head. ‘You switch from confidence to paranoia in a heartbeat.’”

Morag is a fun lady. Very opinionated, very knowledgeable, and VERY matter-of-fact. She is always on the go and more than happy to spend time with her neighbor, as her children very rarely visit and her husband had passed. Her career was working as a nurse with premature babies, where she developed her love for children and for helping new mothers and fathers experience the joys of new life. It is through her hospital work that she eventually met her late husband Peter, and started a family of her own. But though Morag seems to be a very caring and heartfelt woman, hints of her tumultuous relationships with her children are hinted throughout the story.

It is after the birth of Lizzie’s son that things start to develop and change between Lizzie, Morag and Markus. As the story unfolds and describes the days and months after the birth of Lizzie’s son Jamie, the reader is also given insight into the childhood of Lizzie growing up with a cold and rarely comforting mother. It is there that Lizzie wishes for a mother figure, someone who will love her unconditionally and be there as a support system for her. But her need for someone to fill this role is ultimately where things begin to get rocky between Lizzie and Morag.

There is a lot of character and background building that takes up most of this book. The first half really dives into who Lizzie and Morag are. Their wants, desires, pasts, fears and qualities. It was a little slow for my liking in this first half, but everything blended together nicely to set up the REAL plot of this story. Once things really started to roll about halfway through, I was hooked. My mind was reeling about what might happen, where I thought the story would go or how the characters might end up. It was the perfect mix of suspenseful twists that didn’t feel fabricated or overly fictitious. The turmoil felt authentic, the forms of manipulation were realistic, and the outcome was shocking.

Overall, The Memories We Bury was another enjoyable story of dark human behavior. I am so excited to see what else this author comes up with, and what other types of personalities will grace the pages of her next stories.

4 Stars

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Binding of Bindings · Book Promo · Upcoming Releases

Binding of Bindings #42: Recent Book Purchases/Gifted ARCs

Here are a few books that I have received and purchased in the last few weeks.
Some are already released and some have upcoming publications.
Either way, they’re all going to be

 

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~* Gifted ARCs *~

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1. Surrender Your Sons by Adam Sass
Genre: YA/Contemporary/LGBT
Release Date: September 15, 2020
Available for Request on: Netgalley

Surrender Your Sons

This cover though, right?

Surrender Your Sons is about a young man who is thrown into a conversion therapy camp called Nightlight Ministries after coming out to his extremely religious mother. At the camp Connor learns quickly that there is more to the seemingly converted counselors and the odd camp director. He fights to find a way out and take his fellow campers with him, if only they can figure out how to take the camp down

I had read a book a few years ago called The Dead Inside which is a memoir by Cyndy Drew Etler and documents her time at one of the scared-straight camps that were run by Straight, Inc. and hugely popular in the 80s and 90s. They were “tough love” camps that were riddled with abusive and bizarre acts of therapy. I am expecting Surrender Your Sons to be similar to this or the 2008 film Boot Camp starring Mila Kunis.

 

2. The Memories We Bury by H.A. Leuschel
Genre: Fiction/Contemporary
Release Date: April 17, 2020
The Memories We Bury

H.A. Leuschel is an author I have read in the past, namely her collection of short stories called Manipulated Lives that I found to be incredibly raw. Helena has an uncanny ability to see the faults and darkness that is weaved into humanity, and she is able to portray them to the reader through a tale that feels realistic but also non-judgemental.

The Memories We Bury is her first novel and about a bond that forms between a new mother, her husband and her elderly neighbor. It highlights the motherly habits and traits that both Lizzie and her neighbor Morag have learned through personal experiences, and is a story of having to learn who to trust.

 

3. I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick
Genre: YA/Mystery/Thriller
Release Date: June 2, 2020
Available for Request on: Netgalley
I killed zoe spanos

I Killed Zoe Spanos is about a girl named Anna Cicconi who arrives in the Hamptons for a Summer job. Upon her arrival she learns of a girl that has been missing since New Years Eve – Zoe Spanos. As Anna learns more about Zoe, she is told by members of the community of her striking resemblance to Zoe, and she soon begins to wonder if they are linked in some way.

But then when Zoe’s body is finally found, Anna is charged with manslaughter with an alibi that doesn’t quite make sense.

The premise is giving me mad The Lies They Tell vibes, which I loved, so I am supper stoked to start this gem.

 

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~* Book Purchases *~

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1. Hidden Bodies (You, Book 2) by Caroline Kepnes
Genre: Fiction/Mystery/Thriller

Hidden Bodies

I have become horribly obsessed with Joe Goldberg.

He’s just a lover of words and YOU and only wants to get rid of the toxic shit from your life so you can excel and be happy, okay?

*sigh*…swoon.

Thankfully I had found not one, not two, but THREE other girls on Bookstagram who are equally infatuated and understanding of Joe’s murderous ways (@_Shelikestoread , @Heyyitsfahh , @book_and_jane). But only one of us has ever read the books, so we agreed to do a buddy read of You and Hidden Bodies in April, and I am beyond excited. Apparently Joe is MUCH more horrible in the books, but I am sure our love will remain strong.

For those of you who don’t know, You is about a book lover named Joe who works in a bookshop. He meets a woman named Beck who he falls for, slightly totally stalks until she falls for him, and basically he ends up…getting murdery

…I swear he’s totally dreamy.

*This is not an invitation to come stalk me.

 

2. Pet Sematary by Stephen King
Genre: Fiction/Horror/Thriller

Pet Sematary

I am not a Stephen King fan…mostly because I’ve never read any of his books.

Does that make me a bad bibliophile???

There has been a lot of recent buzz about this book again with the 2019 movie reboot and the various book merch that has been circulating through Bookstagram and Etsy. In one of my most recent rep packages from Twisted Wonderland Perfumery I received a beautiful Pet Sematary inspired enamel pin of Gage and Church.

Gage and Church

“Sometimes Dead is Better” Enamel Pin and Soaps – Use code TWJENACIDE to save 10%.

So naturally I found myself super curious about the book and looked it up. Pet Sematary is basically about a pet cemetery that has strange and eerie aspects. Louis Creed and his family move to Maine (where every fucked up King scenario takes place), and behind their house there is a path that leads to a Pet Sematary where children have buried their pets. Apparently the family’s cat dies and everything pops off from there.

 

3. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty
Genre: Nonfiction/Autobiography/Death/Science

Smoke Gets in your Eyes

Now before you get all weird and start looking at me with eyebrows scrunched in concern and pursed lips of disapproval, let me explain.

I’ve always wanted to work in a morgue, and it’s mostly just because of how quiet it would be. I really love hushed voices.

Whispers.

Silence.

And so naturally my weird little gothy book obsessed self is going to scream of excitement when she sees a book like this!

Smoke gets in Your Eyes is the story of Caitlin Doughty’s first cremation job at WestWind Cremation and Burial in Oakland, CA at the age of 23. The book documents her time there and how she learned the ropes at this unconventional job. It is said to be funny, full of information, and gives the reader a new outlook on the dead in general. And obviously that book title is genius.

So I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve found my true genre of book. ❤

 

4. Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Romance

Words in Deep Blue

These last three books I also bought today, but via Ebay because DAMN were they a deal!

But since I have fallen into a deep, dark, sobbing, soul incinerating black hole of heartbreaking YA contemporary…I was starting to run out so I had to buy more.

I’m a masochist okay? I want alllllllll the painful feels!

Words in Deep Blue is said to be a love story. Aw.

It’s about best friends Henry and Rachel, an inseparable duo. Basically Rachel had feelings for Henry, but Henry was all googly-eyed for someone else. But as Rachel is planning to move away, she decides to confess her love for Henry in a letter that she hides in his favorite book in his family’s book store (MAJOR Aw’s, right?!). Some years go by without any contact, and then she comes back to town where Henry lives and…

…well I don’t know. I need to read it.

 

5. The Places I’ve Cried in Public by Holly Bourne
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Romance

The palces ive cried in public

Ugh. What a great title.

Can you guys even count all the places you’ve cried in public? I wouldn’t even know where to begin!

Anyways. The Places I’ve Cried in Public is about how Amelie and Reese’s relationship ended, and it sounds like it’s going to be a story of abuse and toxic relationships. These are always super dear to my heart so I am beyond ready to get wrecked over this.

 

6. It Only happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Romance

It only happens in the movies

I am hoping this is going to be one of the most realistic portrayals of romance in YA Contemporary that I’ll be finding, due to the title and the premise.

It Only Happens in the Movies is about a girl named Audrey who begins working at her local cinema to escape her home life, and ends up meeting Harry – a wannabe filmmaker. A romance sparks and they fall fast, but their romance isn’t the fluffy spectacle that is portrayed in the movies. It’s real and difficult and everything nobody likes to talk about.

 

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Stay Witchy

 

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Book Reviews · Netgalley

Book Review: The Life of Death by Lucy Booth

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Unbound, via Netgalley for an honest review.

Genre: Fiction/Fantasy

Plot: One soul. One pact with the Devil. One chance at love.

Elizabeth Murray has been condemned to burn at the stake. As she awaits her fate, a strange, handsome man visits her cell. He offers her a deal: her soul in return for immortality, but what he offers is not a normal life. To survive Elizabeth must become Death itself.

Elizabeth must ease the passing of all those who die, appearing at the point of death and using her compassion to guide them over the threshold. She accepts and, for 500 years, whirls from one death to the next, never stopping to think of the life she never lived. Until one day, everything changes. She – Death – falls in love.

Desperate to escape the terms of her deal, she summons the man who saved her. He agrees to release her on one condition: that she gives him five lives. These five lives she must take herself, each one more difficult and painful than the last.

Opinion:

I am the woman you most want to see in those final seconds you live on this earth. I have been wives, daughters, best friends. I have been a beloved nurse, a primary school teacher. Your first love. I am the ultimate mother.

I am Death.”

Death is not the hooded figure you’ve heard about in stories. Death does not lurk in the shadows with a sadistic twinkle in it’s hollow skull, awaiting bloodshed and cruelty. Death does not take a life out of selfishness or evil. Death is a woman, and she only comes when she is called. She comes to those who are reaching their life’s end, to be a guide into their afterlife, wherever that may be. And for the last 500 years, Lizzie has been Death. She has been a familiar and loving face to those who are nearing their end, and she takes pride in helping others. But when Lizzie comes across a man named Tom, she is stricken with a love she never thought she’d have. Desperate to end her time as Death and to be able to have a life with Tom, He agrees to release her from her contract on one condition: she must kill five people of His choosing.

In 1590, I sold my soul to the Devil.”

After being accused of witchcraft, Elizabeth Murray is sentenced to be burnt at the stake. But as she awaits her impending doom in the dungeons, she is visited by Him – the Devil. He comes to her with an offer. He promises her, in exchange for her soul and complete ownership over her, she can “live” as Death. Naturally, she makes the deal. And so, for 500 years, Lizzie lives as Death. Constantly moving around the world, guiding souls across the veil between the living and the dead. She only comes when needed, as a means of comfort to the soul that is dying to ensure they go in peace and happiness. She does not take the lives she guides into Death, she only arrives as a servant in the circle of life.

Lives are given to me – I never take them. Never.”

This depiction of Death always takes the form of a woman, but her face changes to match the wants of the person dying. Whether someone wants to see their mother, sister, daughter, or aunt, Death becomes them. She is given the memories of the woman she becomes, and speaks with the person as they begin to enter the afterlife. But what is really interesting, is that some people are able to actually see Death for who she is, and keep her at arms length. Of course when this happens, it is utterly depressing to witness because those people go into a totally hysteria and shock as they realize what is happening to them. But Death has a job to do, and she does it well. She is a woman of a billion faces.

This is no place for a woman, I’ve heard it said.

I’ve never seen a place a woman was more needed.”

This is honestly one of the coolest and most unique stories I have ever come across. The outlook on death that this author possessed was truly special. She gave death a gentle and feminine quality that makes you feel comfortable with its presence. It is delicate and sweet, rather than a cold and fearful entity that we all seem to shrink away from. This author gives the reader an intimate introduction to an idea of death that almost brings peace and quiet. It is sensitive, caring, heart-achingly beautiful and truly one of a kind.

It is so seldom that a book can reach into my soul with such ferocity and gentleness.

But this book did that.

It crushed me.

This entire story feels like a poem written just for me. Like the author knew I would need this, and I am confident that I am not the only person who will feel this. The Life of Death is a love song, a sonnet. A message in a bottle that has traveled through storms of anger and eerie calm, only to wash up at the feet of its desired recipient. The writing is so descriptive and perfect. I was lost in this story, feeling waves upon waves of emotions for Lizzie and these fleeting characters.

It’s breathtaking.

But as soon as I began to see that this story was one of beauty and acceptance of death, the author drove a knife into my heart and cut the ties on the dam that was holding my tears in. DEVASTATION. Unending, literal, soul-crushing, weep-worthy devastation. And all I can say is, why? WHY?! Why did you fill me up with so much love and assurance, and then just cut me at the knees and leave me in a pool of my own despair?? Couldn’t we just let this be a story of happiness and good fortune?

Of course we couldn’t, this is the story of Death, after all. And in all reality, this isn’t the bright and happy story that I am making it out to be. It is a dark and gritty tale once Lizzie begins killing the people that He decides upon. Because each of these people are innocents. They aren’t supposed to die, but they must in order for Lizzie to be released from her contract with the Devil. And the worst part? Lizzie has to use other people to do the killings. So not only is she taking the lives that the Devil tells her to take, but she is also forever altering the lives of those she takes control of to do the deed.

This isn’t a fluffy tale.

It’s a tale about Death.

But even so, I can’t help but hold it close to my heart as a book that I will forever think fondly of. It’s just beautiful, in all of its depressing and dark glory. I highly recommend it to any reader that is looking for something truly different from the normal stories currently out there. It will give you a whole new outlook on death, and honestly, its for the best.

Fade to black.”

5-stars

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books

Book Review: Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

Exit.jpg

Genre: YA/Contemporary

Plot: Veronica Mars meets William Shakespeare in E.K. Johnston’s latest brave and unforgettable heroine.

Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don’t cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team’s summer training camp is Hermione’s last and marks the beginning of the end of… she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.

In every class, there’s a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They’re never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she’s always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn’t the beginning of Hermione Winter’s story and she’s not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.

Opinion:

This book is in no way, at all, by ANY means, similar to Veronica Mars or William Shakespeare.  

To the person who wrote this book description, did you even read this book?

I was really hoping this book was going to be like open-heart surgery: a precise slice between 2 to 4 inches, an intricate unweaving of my measly little “feelingstrings and an eventual severe, yet purposeful, yanking on my heart like it was a sled delivering presents on Christmas eve.

Unfortunately,

I didn’t feel much at all.

I had so many readers recommend this book to me after I read The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith, because I was wailing and shrieking about it for months afterwards – and to be honest, I still am. I waited months to actually read this because I knew I would have to set a night aside and really prepare myself for the roller coaster of emotions I was about to feel! With my tissues, tea and emergency cookies on standby- I dove in!

But what I got was…blah.

I am obviously not one of those readers that gives a book a stellar review just because it touches on an important issue. I respect the author for giving sexual assault victims a voice, and for trying to show another version of how the victims and their loved ones are affected by truly terrible crimes like this. I found a lot of positives in this story by way of strong friendships and fierce loyalty, the confusion of how/what to feel when you’ve been assaulted but cannot remember, and the various ways that one’s peers and community reacts.

But I think what really made it hard for me to connect to this story, was the lack of depth in this story. Exit is a “shallow end” version of YA Contemporary/Coming-of-age fiction about rape. It gives you the characters and the facts of what happened before and after the assault, but it only just brushes the surface of the emotional significance that comes with such a horrific crime.

The main character felt very one-dimensional and stiff. She didn’t seem to EVER feel much of anything about what happened to her, and was more worried about her cheer team then the fact that she was raped…? I’m all for moving on and not letting things get you down, but come on! This girl is a teenager. A hormonal, emotional, hard-to-think-rationally teenager! How is she so put together and mature about this situation the ENTIRE book? It feels like lazy writing. Instead of the author really getting in touch with the emotional trauma and how Hermione was coping with the events, she barely stuck a toe into the water and simply told the reader emotions rather than presented them.

There wasn’t anything really special about this book, and I kept finding myself waiting for a big moment of TRUE emotion that unfortunately never ended up coming. The only true gem of this story was Hermione’s best friend Polly. Polly is a really well-crafted, beautiful, strong and detailed character! She is the strength and rock in Hermione’s life, and apparently the only one that is stricken with the events that take place. I almost wish Exit would have focused more on Polly and HER views on the situation as she helped her friend through her assault. It would have been a different viewpoint, and maybe would have given me the feeling and truth that I was looking for.

I think this book would be more suitable for a younger audience, due to its non-graphic and modest approach. I think this could be a decent introductory story to sexual assault if Speak or The Way I Used to Be seemed a little too heavy. But for me, I was left feeling a little empty and unsatisfied with this book.

2-5-stars

 

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · Netgalley · New Releases · Reviews

Book Review: The First Girl Child by Amy Harmon

The First gIrl Child

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, 47North, via Netgalley for an honest review.

Genre: Fantasy

Plot: Bayr of Saylok, bastard son of a powerful and jealous chieftain, is haunted by the curse once leveled by his dying mother. Bartered, abandoned, and rarely loved, she plagued the land with her words: From this day forward, there will be no daughters in Saylok.

Raised among the Keepers at Temple Hill, Bayr is gifted with inhuman strength. But he’s also blessed with an all-too-human heart that beats with one purpose: to protect Alba, the first girl child born in nearly two decades and the salvation for a country at risk.

Now the fate of Saylok lies with Alba and Bayr, whose bond grows deeper with every whisper of coming chaos. Charged with battling the enemies of their people, both within and without, Bayr is fueled further by the love of a girl who has defied the scourge of Saylok.

What Bayr and Alba don’t know is that they each threaten the king, a greedy man who built his throne on lies, murder, and betrayal. There is only one way to defend their land from the corruption that has overtaken it. By breaking the curse, they could defeat the king…but they could also destroy themselves.

Opinion:

‘I cannot see, my tongue is a traitor.

My flesh is a foe, my heart a betrayer.

My eyes will I blacken, my lips will I close.

And let the runes lead me down paths I must go.

No man can follow.

No man can lead.

No man can save me, no man can free.”’

This book is PHENOMENAL!

Desdemona of Dolphys spent her last day alive giving birth to the bastard son of a cruel chieftain, and cursing the kingdom of Saylok: If man can so easily turn his back on his child and the woman who carries him, then man will know what it means to live without woman.

We are abused. We are used. We are bartered and abandoned. But rarely are we loved. So be it. From this day forward, there will be no daughters in Saylok for any of you to love.”

The First Girl Child is about a curse over a kingdom that ensures only males are born. It is about the life of a temple boy named Bayr who is gifted with inhuman strength, and the first girl child born during the curse, Princess Alba. The book is one of love, sacrifice, deceit, honor, faith, hope and brutality. Women are taken by force from territories and surrounding Kingdoms, in the hopes that women outside of Saylok are exempt from the curse and can break the drought. There is adventure and war, but also compassion and loyalty dripping from these remarkable pages. It is a story of oppression and doing what is expected of you, rather than what you choose.

This is not a world where a man or woman gets much choice in their happiness. We are born into war and each day is a battle.”

This is an EPIC historical fantasy that I don’t think I could have lived without! It centers on Saylok, a kingdom made up of six territories, with each territory being ruled by it’s own chieftain and Saylok being ruled by a King. The territories of Adyar, Berne, Dolphys, Ebba, Joran and Leok live in peace with the role of King being rotated between the tribes each time one dies. At the center of Saylok resides Temple Hill, where the Keepers live in isolation, protecting the knowledge of the blood runes and communicating with the Gods.

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The story is set over a number of years as the reader watches Bayr grow within the temple walls under the care of his uncle and the Keepers. As he becomes a toddler, it becomes known that Bayr is unlike other children. Within 6 months of his birth he is walking and running, and by the age of 5 he has already taken down a bear with only his hands. But with his inhuman strength and speed also comes his unflinching heart and need to protect. So when the first girl child is finally born, Bayr feels an instant connection to the her and swears an oath to become her protector. We watch as Bayr and Alba grow together, becoming a formidable and inseparable pair, and how their relationship begins to shift as the years pass.

The relationship they share is positively adorable and beautiful. Bayr is the solid figure in Alba’s life as she grows into a small child. He acts as her confidant, brother, guard and bestfriend. His days center on Alba, and hers center on him. I found so many small smiles blossoming my cheeks as I read about these two growing together, having adventures and learning. Alba being a fierce and outspoken little girl, and Bayr being a quiet and observant boy who treats her with such care and love. They are the true heart of this book, and the romance that is…EVERYTHING you could ask for.

There is no Alba without Bayr.”

But two other characters that really steal the show are Dagmar, Bayr’s uncle, and Ghost, the biological mother of Alba.. These two play HUGE roles in the development and lives of Bayr and Alba. They are kindhearted, compassionate and AMAZING people who live their lives in the shadows. A love between Dagmar and Ghost blossoms, but it is a relationship that is forbidden due to Dagmar being a Keeper. But the resilience, strength and selfless love that these two exude is the touch of hope and innocence that envelopes this book.

I think what really blew me away about this book, besides the incredible world-building, overall plot and complete badassery, was the writing. This is my first read from Amy Harmon, and I am SHOCKED and a little outraged that I have never come across her before! Her writing is detailed, exciting and addicting. I don’t normally go for fantasy books that have that Game of Thrones/Lord of the Rings style, but I am SO happy I decided to request this. I was fearful that it would be slow, that I would have trouble with the names and places, but NONE of that happened. I was ADDICTED!

If there is one bad thing I can say about this book, it’s that it isn’t the first in a series.

But, I’m secretly hoping it magically becomes one.

5-stars

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