Book Reviews · Edelweiss+ · New Releases

Book Review: Thorn (Dauntless Path, Book 1) by Intisar Khanani

Thorn

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, HarperTeen & Hot Key Books, via Edelweiss+ for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling-The Goose Girl

Plot: A princess with two futures. A destiny all her own

Between her cruel family and the contempt she faces at court, Princess Alyrra has always longed to escape the confines of her royal life. But when she’s betrothed to the powerful prince Kestrin, Alyrra embarks on a journey to his land with little hope for a better future.

When a mysterious and terrifying sorceress robs Alyrra of both her identity and her role as princess, Alyrra seizes the opportunity to start a new life for herself as a goose girl.

But Alyrra soon finds that Kestrin is not what she expected. The more Alyrra learns of this new kingdom, the pain and suffering its people endure, as well as the danger facing Kestrin from the sorceress herself, the more she knows she can’t remain the goose girl forever.

With the fate of the kingdom at stake, Alyrra is caught between two worlds and ultimately must decide who she is, and what she stands for.

Opinion:

 

 

‘You are neither goose girl no veria, but something better than them both.’

‘You are mistaken,’ I say, the words bitter on my tongue.

‘I am nothing.’”

Alyrra is no stranger to cruelty and being looked down upon, even if she is Princess. Though her honesty may be seen as a virtue to some, in the eyes of court and her mother, it is her biggest weakness and downfall. After outing a courtier named Valka for stealing and trying to blame it on a servant, Alyrra has had to endure the consequences of her compulsion to tell the truth, through her mother’s sneers and the concealed beatings by her brother. So it is a slight reprieve when an arrangement of marriage is made between the kingdoms of Princess Alyrra and Prince Kestrin,promising safe haven from the family that despises her. But along the journey to her betrothed, Valka enacts revenge on Alyrra and makes a deal with a sorceress that switches their skin. Now Alyrra must navigate a new life as a goose girl, a drastic change from her life of nobility, but one she finds comfort in. But accepting her new life means forsaking her old one, and the obligations that came with it.

This is how you survive: one breath to the next, refusing each thought as it comes to you. This is how you get through the worst of things.”

This, was beautiful.

If there is one thing I love in a retelling, it’s when the author can effortlessly redesign a tale into one that still holds the atmospheric characteristics that blessed the original. This story feels like a classic old-timey and eerie fairy tale passed on through generations. It doesn’t feel like a fluffed new-age YA retelling stuffed with love triangles and whimpering teens. It’s characters are mature for their age, as most were in a time of traveling by horse and serving royalty, and their development isn’t rushed. They are thoughtfully revealed to the reader over time, allowing us to get to know who they are through their actions rather than a few words of their strength or demeanor. They have wit, charm, flaws, strengths, emotions and deep convictions. It reads like a classic fairy tale spun with YA Fantasy, and is laced with a rough purity much like a Jane Austen novel.

The geese are spread about the pasture, snapping up grass and tasty bugs, or dipping into the water. It is as if nothing has happened, as if the pasture exists out of time and none of the violence or illness I have seen can touch it. There is a wordless sort of hope in this field that bears me up.”

When I started reading this book, my only hope was that it would at least be better than the last Goose Girl retelling I read (Bloodleaf). The last one was…less than impressive so I figured we could only go up from there. And my word, did we go up. Thorn was a perfect re-imagining of the original story. It had many elements that mirrored The Goose Girl, but enough changes that it really created a descriptive and well-imagined full-length tale that I loved every second of. There was a perfect mix of seriousness and witty sentences littered throughout that made me fall in love with Alyrra, especially when she brings dark humor into her unfortunate predicaments.

At least the stream is too shallow for her to drown me in.”

Alyrra, called Thorn through most of the book, starts out meek and quiet due to how she was treated in her own kingdom. But as the story progresses, we watch her find her voice and the confidence to stand up for what she believes in. She blossoms into a sure and just woman who is impossible to dislike, especially next to that monster of a girl, Valka. I loved seeing her stand up to Valka every time they were forced to share the same air space, and the way she accepted this betrayal was beyond regal.

And I will make sure it fails if you betray the oaths of allegiance you took on when you stole my skin.”

Do you argue for the lives of men who cloak cruelty in the guise of justice?”

The overall theme of this tale is justice. What one will do to find it, and what it looks like to each person. For some it is revenge, for some it is mercy. But in Thorn, it is the driving force for this entire book and the decisions these characters make. It takes precedence over everything, even the romance. Though I usually love a romance (I mean come on, who doesn’t), the lack of one in Thorn is actually totally okay with me. There is a hint towards it and a little nudge as something that may come, but the lack of one was really fitting for this story and the times. Plus, there is going to be a sequel, so you know it will be picked back up in the next installment.

This is easily one of my new favorite retellings. It was written impeccably, had an even and well-paced flow throughout, and the characters were wonderfully crafted. Though I do wish to know more about Kestrin, I am expecting to learn more about him in book two. I cannot wait to see where the author takes this series!

4.5 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 · Edelweiss+ · New Releases

Book Review: Bone Crier’s Moon by Kathryn Purdie

Bone Criers Moon

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Katherine Tegen Books, via Edelweiss+ for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Romance

Plot: Bone Criers have a sacred duty. They alone can keep the dead from preying on the living. But their power to ferry the spirits of the dead into goddess Elara’s Night Heavens or Tyrus’s Underworld comes from sacrifice. The gods demand a promise of dedication. And that promise comes at the cost of the Bone Criers’ one true love.

Ailesse has been prepared since birth to become the matriarch of the Bone Criers, a mysterious famille of women who use strengths drawn from animal bones to ferry dead souls. But first she must complete her rite of passage and kill the boy she’s also destined to love.

Bastien’s father was slain by a Bone Crier and he’s been seeking revenge ever since. Yet when he finally captures one, his vengeance will have to wait. Ailesse’s ritual has begun and now their fates are entwined—in life and in death.

Sabine has never had the stomach for the Bone Criers’ work. But when her best friend Ailesse is taken captive, Sabine will do whatever it takes to save her, even if it means defying their traditions—and their matriarch—to break the bond between Ailesse and Bastien. Before they all die.

Opinion:

“On that new moon – like every new moon – the Leurress need to summon the dead from their graves and ferry their souls past the Gate of the Beyond.”

The dead must be ferried, my mother told me as I prepared for my rite of passage, or they’ll wander the land of the living and wreak devastation.”

The Bone Crier’s are a tribe of women called Leurress whose soul purpose is to ferry souls to the Gates of the Beyond. They must lead the unchained to the gates of Heaven, and the chained to the gates of the Underworld. But in order to become a Ferrier, each Leurress must first acquire three Grace Bones from an animal that she has hunted and killed herself. The most desired graces are from animals with extreme speed, powerful senses of smell and hearing, or immense strength. Once a Leurress binds the grace bone with their blood, there is only one ritual left – she must use the sacred bone flute, which also opens the gates on ferrying night, and play a song to lure her soulmate to a bridge, and kill them. But the boy that Ailesse lures to the bridge on her ritual night isn’t what she bargained for, as he plans to kill her to avenge his father’s death.

Ailesse is the daughter of the matron of the Leurress, and has been named heir. As such, she feels the need to prove herself to her mother and the women around her. We first meet her as she and her best friend, Sabine, begin to hunt a shark so that Ailesse may acquire her third grace bone. She is a determined and strong lead character who is not easily shaken or driven to defeat, and her tenacity is shown from page one. She desperately wants to become a Ferrier, as is her life’s purpose, and shows both excitement and longing to complete her final ritual…which involves killing her soulmate.

Her best friend, however, is quite unlike Ailesse. Sabine is just a little younger than her and is indeed a Leuress as well, but has no desire to kill any animal or an innocent person. She is a gentle soul who has an unflinching devotion and love for her friend, but she refuses to harm any innocent creature. She expresses sorrow and uneasiness for the rituals the Leuress go through with in order to ferry the dead, but she is fully supportive of Ailesse and helps her complete her tasks.

Far be it from me to deny anyone the chance to watch you slaughter the man of your dreams.”

Obviously a story about witchy women who kill their soulmates, gain powers from animal bones and ferry the dead into the afterlife is enough of an epic read. But add a little revenge, romance, betrayal and a kickass setting and you’ve got one amazing fantasy.

The story flips between three main characters: Ailesse, Sabine and Bastien. Bastien is a young man who, as a child, witnessed his father being killed by a bone crier. Ever since, Bastien has been planning his revenge on the Bone Crier’s for taking his father and leaving him an orphan living on the streets as a thief. For years he has been training to be able to compete against the Bone Crier’s and their otherworldly powers, and he does so alongside two other orphans whose father was also killed by a Bone Crier.

His powerful desire for revenge is a grace of its own.”

Bastien is a formidable love interest and makes things in this story interesting, but I didn’t get as much substance from his character as I wanted. And to be quite honest, I didn’t get enough substance from any of these characters. I feel that Sabine was developed the most in terms of personality and emotions shining through, but she is only a supporting role next to Ailesse, who is the female lead. I found Ailesse to be strong and a complete badass, but I only ever felt that we were brushing the surface with her. I didn’t feel a strong connection or love for her at all, or for Bastien for that matter. By the end of the read my favorite characters were Sabine, with her unshakable determination and loyalty, and Marcel (Bastien’s friend) with his quirky personality and carefree attitude.

Oh, and the mysterious owl.

Obviously the romance in this tale is between Ailesse and Bastien, soulmates who are never supposed to be together…right? Well no YA Fantasy is EVER complete without a little twist and an epic cliffhanger to leave you wanting more, and of course that is EXACTLY what this author gave us. But my question is this, will this love stand the test of time? The test of the stars and gods?? Well I don’t know. I’m waiting on book 2 just like you are! But there is something to be said about a forbidden love and two characters who desperately DON’T want to be attached to each other. That’s how all great romances start, right? Just ask SJM, she’ll tell you! Give them blinding hatred, threats of murder and a a few below the belt insults and we’ve got some serious LOVE.

All I smell is Ailesse. Earth, fields, flowers. Everything green and alive. A twisted trick of her magic. I have to remember what she really is.

Darkness. Decay. Death.”

But of course, the romance isn’t the only aspect of this tale. It’s an epic fantasy packed with magic, a setting of ethereal beauty and the catacombs of France, and a whole shitload of dead just praying to wreak havoc on the living. I really enjoyed every part of the world-building, the idea of intertwining the frightening and sad history of the very real underground grave in France, and the themes of bridges linking mates and guiding souls beyond. But as much as I loved all of these parts, the rest of the story just didn’t quite measure up. There were a lot of days that just went by as characters hid out in the catacombs, Sabine was constantly hunting for Ailesse, and it was all just kind of…a lot of waiting around?

I think the story could have been either condensed or seasoned with a bit more prominent scenes. It wasn’t exactly slow, but there just wasn’t enough happening to keep me fully invested…which is why I ended up putting the book down a lot and getting distracted way more than usual. It was a good start to the series and I feel like book 1 was just an introduction for what is to come, so I’m still invested and ready to continue the books. But just know, if you’re expecting epic mind-blowing, you might not get it from this first installment. But all in all, it was a good story with an impressive premise.

3-stars

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Binding of Bindings · Book Promo · Book Wrap-up

Binding of Bindings #41: February 2020 Book Wrap-up

Do…do you hear that?
Someone’s knocking
And its name is MARCH!

 

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~* February 2020 Book Wrap-Up *~

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1. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Genre: YA/Dystopia/Romance

How I live Now

“I was dying, of course, but then we all are. Every day, in perfect increments.”

“Staying alive was what we did to pass the time.”

This book…Ugh!

I love it.

I had first found out about this book after watching the movie (2013) and for some reason didn’t realize it was a book. I have watched the movie COUNTLESS times, so I knew it was about time I actually sat down and read the original tale.

How I Live Now is a story of how five cousins live after the world falls into war and they are forced to fend for themselves. It is told by our main character, Daisy, a girl from New York that is shipped out to stay with her cousins in the countryside of England. What starts out as days of ultimate freedom and zero adult supervision where the teens are free to do what they want, quickly changes when they are separated and forced into different camps for their protection.

It’s a story about war, about fighting to get back to those you call family, and it’s also about a forbidden love that blooms between Daisy and her cousin Edmond.

Yeah, I know how it sounds. Just trust me, you need to read it.

(See my review here)

5-stars

 

2. A Curse So Dark and Lonely (Cursebreakers, Book 1) by Brigid Kemmerer
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling

A Curse So Dark and Lonely

I had heard SO much about A Curse So Dark and Lonely all over bookstagram and through other bloggers, and I had a copy, but I had just never gotten around to reading it!

So in anticipation for the release of book 2, my good friend Shannon at Reads & Reels (Bookstagram: @shanannigans_of_readsandreels) and I did a buddy read! And let me tell you, we DEVOURED it!

It’s a Beauty and the Beast retelling set in modern times about a prince in a land called Emberfall who has been cursed to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over and OVER until he can get a sweet little lass to fall in love with him. Enter: Harper. Our feisty little heroine is taken to Emberfall, against her will of course, and so ensues a tale of princely wooing and a REALLY smoldery/attractive guard named Grey

4-stars

 

3. A Heart So Fierce and Broken (Cursebreakers, Book 2) by Brigid Kemmerer
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling

A Heart so Fierce and Broken

So naturally, as soon as we finished ACSDAL, we annihilated A Heart So Fierce and Broken!

In this installment, our poor baby Grey is gone from the palace, his googly eyes with Harper is ceased, and he is basically hiding. Why, you may ask? I’m not telling you! READ ACSDAL!

But anyways, though I wasn’t AS in love with this as I was book 2, it was still a great book. I loved that it followed Grey instead of Harper this time, but I was also upset that Harper’s character was kinda thrown off to the side. Like hello, I liked that broad.

But it’s fine, cause Grey is life and I am all about him!!

4-stars

 

4. Red Hood by Elana K. Arnold
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling

Red Hood

This is NOT your typical Little Red Riding Hood retelling.

It’s uncomfortable, gritty and gives a painfully realistic look into how a lot of women are treated, viewed and labeled.

Red Hood is one of the most raw retellings I have come across. It’s unhinging how forceful it pushes your comfort zone into submission and forces you to eradicate those tainted ideas instilled in us of how a female should act at. It’s a story of female empowerment, sisterhood, and loving the body that you call home.

And also about boys/men who turn into wolves when they want to harm a woman.

And periods.

(See my review here)

4-5-stars

 

5. Fortuna Sworn (Book 1) by K.J. Sutton
Genre: Adult/Fantasy/Paranormal

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If you guys have been with me for a few years, you know I just love my girl Kelsey Sutton! She’s an indie author who primarily writes YA with SUPER wild and creative topics like Gardenia: a girl who can see “countdown clocks” above everyone’s head that shows when they will die or Smoke and Key: set in a place called “Under” that is neither Heaven nor Hell, and is beneath one’s grave where souls wander and are named after the possession they carry into death, like Smoke or Key.

Well Fortuna Sworn is her FIRST Adult Fantasy series, under the pseudonym K.J. Sutton. I first read this last year after Kelsey sent me a copy (I just about DIED I fangirled so hard) and let me tell you, it was UhMazing.

Check it:

Fortuna Sworn is one of the Fallensupernatural creatures descended from angels. But she is also one of the last of her kind, Nightmare’s – a creature of intoxicating beauty whose face shifts and transforms to accommodate the onlooker’s tastes. A creature that can reach into your mind with a gentle caress, find the fears that lay delicately in the folds of your thoughts, and turn them into a horrifying reality.

But when Fortuna is captured by two goblins who intend to sell her to the highest bidder, she is freed by a strange faerie that offers her a deal she can’t refuse. He knows where her brother is, who disappeared two years prior, and he can take her to where he is being held if she agrees to just one thing: to be his mate.

It’s loaded with dark faeries, twisted games, manipulation, and guys…it is HOT!

(See my review here)

4-stars

 

6. Restless Slumber (Fortuna Sworn, Book 2) by K.J. Sutton
Genre: Adult/Fantasy/Paranormal

Restless SLumber

OH.MY.SHIT.

This series and this author are going to KILL ME!!!!!!!

If you want your heart ripped out of your chest, read this. If you like having your brain constantly messed with and want to feel completely unsure of who you’re rooting for, read this. If YOU, like staring off into space for 45 minutes after reading a book….READ THIS!

I…I have no words.

Kelsey Sutton is a beautiful monster.

(See my review here)

5-stars

 

7. Asking For It by Louise O’Neill
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Feminism

Asking For It

I have wanted this book for SO long guys. SO LONG!

You know I can’t help myself when it comes to books that will make me crumble, but I especially can’t help myself when said books are feminist fiction. It’s like a nicely aged bottle of heroin, I just want it and I want it now.

Asking For It is about a girl named Emma O’Donovan who wakes up on her porch after a party with little memory of the night before, or how she got home. After messaging the boys she recalled being with, and getting no reply in return, Emma soon finds out there explicit pictures and videos of her online from the night before.

Hoping that everything will go away and not wanting it to become an issue, Emma claims that she was in on it all and the boys are innocent. But as time goes on, Emma’s feelings on the night changes, and everyone has an opinion on what happened.

*Sigh*…this one hit the feels.

(My review will be up tomorrow 2/29)

 

8. One Foot in the Grave (The Mortician’s Daughter, Book 1) by C.C. Hunter
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Paranormal-Ghosts

One foot in the Grave

I’m sure most of you, like me, had read the Shadow Falls series by C.C. Hunter and loved it. A camp for supernatural teens with murder and romance? Perfection!

So when I saw that she had released another YA Fantasy/Paranormal series about the daughter of a MORTICIAN *happy squeal* I just knew I had to read it! One Foot in the Grave was about how ghosts follow Riley Smith’s father home from the morgue in search of her, asking for help.

And going into it, I totally expected the mushy forbidden romance and the dramatic teenage angst riddled banter between characters. I was ready for a hot ghost boy, a girl with some home issues and a little murder/mystery to spice up my week.

But UGH! I’m surprised my eyes don’t have a permanent twitch to them due to the constant eye-rolls and half-lidded cringes that were racking through my body while reading.

Definitely targeted for the pre-teen rather than the young adult.

2-5-stars

 

9. The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr
Genre: YA/Contemporary

The One Memory of Flora Banks

So I am currently demolishing The One Memory of Flora Banks and it is SO good, guys!!

Flora Banks developed anterograde amnesia when she was 10 after having a tumor removed from her brain. She can remember everything up to the surgery, but now at 17, she has trouble retaining any information/people/places. She relies on her best friend Riley who she knew before her surgery, and writes messages on her arms and leaves post-it notes everywhere of things she needs to remember.

But one night she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, and she can remember it.

I am fully expecting this to end in a really sad and heartbreaking way, because I’m less than 100 pages in and I am already wanting to snatch Flora up and give her a hug! The author completely captures the confusion of Flora’s situation and the struggle to lead a normal life.

But I suspect foul play from everyone! I swear, if someone hurts her, I am tearing the world apart.

(Keep a look out for my review)

 

10. Bone Crier’s Moon (Bone Grace, Book 1) by Kathryn Purdie
Release Date: March 3, 2020
Genre: YA/Fantasy

Bone Criers Moon

I am also currently in the middle of Bone Crier’s Moon which releases March 3rd, and it is amazing so far!

Here’s the scoop if you didn’t see my last Bindings post: There’s this group/family of women called Leurress who are tasked with escorting the dead by ferry to the Heavens or the Underworld. But in order to have the strength and power to do this, they must acquire threegrace bones” that they must take from animals they kill themselves. From these bones the Leurress are given the graces (powers) of the animals, such as their strength, speed, sight, etc.

Once the Leurress has all her grace bones, she THEN has to lure her “amoure” with a bone flute. Once she snags them, she either has to kill them OR she can stay with them for a year, and THEN kill them.

Obsessed.

(Review to come!)

 

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Stay Witchy

 

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Book Reviews · New Releases

Book Review: Restless Slumber (Fortuna Sworn, Book 2) by K.J. Sutton

Restless SLumber

*Warning: This review contains spoilers to book 1, Fortuna Sworn! Tread carefully*

(See my review of Book 1 here)

Genre: Adult Fantasy/Dark/Fae

Plot: “Before I met you, I thought Nightmares were creatures of pain and darkness. Why, then, are you constantly seeking freedom and light?”

Fortuna’s entire life has changed.

She has no idea how to balance her new responsibilities and who she used to be. There are hundreds of faeries in her head, her brother seems to have lost touch with reality, and a werewolf won’t leave her side. Maybe the utter lack of control is why her abilities seem to be changing, as well.

Then there’s Collith. Enigmatic, beautiful, and infuriating. Not only a king of the faeries she despises so much, but also her mate. His gentle pursuit causes confusion in her normally unwavering relationship with Oliver.

As a result of it all, Fortuna now finds herself surrounded by new enemies and ones from the past. The question isn’t whether she is strong enough to make change in such a corrupt court.

It’s whether she will survive long enough to do it.

Content warning: This novel depicts scenes of sexual violence and domestic abuse.

Opinion:

What do you fear, faerie?”

“The lights of anger and resentment in their eyes gave way to pain and terror. Screams, cries, and moans filled the room, more lovely than a string quartet.”

Where…do I even begin?

This book has ravaged my soul. Ripped my barely there black heart from it’s cobwebbed, rock bottom hole in the rubble of my chest, and left me aching like a widow at a love parade. I am shock. I am devastation. I am wondering how I didn’t see this coming, what with HB stabbing me in the back with Wicked King last year, and me assuming Kelsey Sutton would only want to bring a smile to my face…instead of this contorted expression of betrayal and deeply sadistic thrill that is now etched into my features.

Well done, Kelsey.

Fortuna Sworn has just been crowned the Unseelie Queen, rescued her brother Damon, and returned to life above ground. But try as she might, she can’t escape her new duties or the faeries she is now bound to. And with her relationship to Collith, her mate and the Unseelie King, shifting from loathing to something…more, she can’t help but revel in this newfound power. But Fortuna’s ruthless decisions that helped get her on the throne are coming back three-fold, and there are threats at every turn. Unsure if she can finally trust the mate that she has bound herself to, and suspicious of the motives behind the Seelie King’s kindness, Fortuna is forced to do confront everything that makes a Nightmare – Fear.

Nothing had been real and then with no warning, everything was.”

There is SO much happening in this sequel, I hardly know where to begin. Restless Slumber is packed with magic, supernatural creatures, betrayal, murder, lust, secrets, blindsides and anything and everything that could make you want to weep with unhinged joy. Gone is the ethereal and mystifying tale about a woman rescuing her brother and marrying a Fae king. This book is DARK. It’s raw, it’s unapologetic and it gets right in your face forcing you to dismiss every sense of morality that you so desperately cling to. There are NO RULES in this dark fantasy, but don’t worry, you won’t even miss them.

Restless Slumber is WILD. There are constant assassination attempts, eloquently phrased sentences spoken to entrap someone, blindly made deals in secluded areas, secrets woven into webs of deceit, and completely OUT OF NOWHERE blindsides that will make you want to scream. There are witches, werewolves, sirens, vampires and goblins. There’s necromancy that brings a slew of corpses after Fortuna, epic battle scenes that pit supernatural creatures against one another, and moments where you question if you’d actually want to be dragged into the forest by a faerie. Because these aren’t the sweet and mystical beings that YA Fantasy likes to portray them as.

The Fallen in this book are brutality at it’s finest and beauty as it’s darkest.

Speaking of brutal, let’s talk about our dark Queen Fortuna.

Then, once they were all crowded within my skull, I released the creature living inside me. The creature that I’d denied too long, too often.

Fear.”

If you guys thought Celaena Sardothien was a sassy badass who didn’t give one Fae Fuck, you need to rethink what recklessness in it’s most stunning form looks like. Fortuna, is the literal definition of a Queen. She has no mercy, loves the thrill of shoving a nightmare down someone’s throat, and has a sharp tongue that would leave anyone shaking. She is brash, unrelenting and unapologetic for the things she does. She doesn’t care if anyone likes her or is on her side. She doesn’t need someone in her corner rooting for her and holding her hand.

She holds her own damn hand.

But even so, Fortuna does have morals and dreams of making things better for the faeries. She stands up for victims and those who are tossed aside or abused. She is a voice for the sufferer and an executioner for the wicked. She is incredibly resilient and strong, and doesn’t look for approval from others. She knows what she wants and takes it, and it’s impossible not to love her completely. Especially for her patience and persistence with Damon.

Fortuna has indeed “rescued” Damon from the Unseelie court and from Jassin (good riddance), but Damon is a shell of who he once was. He is gaunt, withdrawn and has vowed to never forgive Fortuna for what she did to the faerie he loved. Most of the time he refuses to even acknowledge her presence, and it makes rooting for him so hard. But of course, that’s all you want to do. Damon’s situation is so tangled and doused in trauma, leaving him a skeleton of the Nightmare he once was. He’s in a haze of Stockholm Syndrome for this beautifully wretched faerie that enslaved him for two years, yet some piece of him also knows that he was treated horribly. Throughout the story Fortuna battles against giving him space and wanting to force him to forgive her, because though she hates to admit it, Damon is her weakness.

I have weaknesses. I am vulnerable. But all of them are tied…to you.”

Speaking of weaknesses

If you’re looking for a slow-burn romance that will beckon you towards its fluorescent flames with promises of warmth and contentment, fulfillment and happiness, coaxing you closer and closer, until you’re only a breath away from its beautiful blaze…only to have it push you in, engulfing your body in an agony and anguish that you can’t escape – well, this is the book for you.

The romance that is, but also isn’t! Strong as she may be, Fortuna just can’t seem to break down that wall for Collith. And to be honest, who can blame her?! The guy bribed her into marrying him, and still withholds so many secrets from her that I can’t even decide if he’s a good guy or not. But of course, I am horribly in love with him. He is darkness shrouded in gentleness. He is eloquent, calm and sincere. Sure he holds back and is a faerie of few words, but there’s something to be said for his patience and stability. He proves to be dependable at every junction and always puts Fortuna first. Sounds like the real deal to me.

But in classic K.J. Sutton style, she has to put my heart into a panic blender.

Collith isn’t the only love interest in Fortuna’s life. There is Laurie, the Seelie King who is both slightly irritating but also swoon-worthy, who keeps flirting with Fortuna even though I wish he would just BACK OFF. But then…there’s Ollie. *Sigh*…my heart. When Fortuna was a child, Ollie was, what Fortuna assumes (and what the reader is told, but I’m suspicious), created by her through her subconscious. He lives in a dreamscape that they created together, and she meets him in her sleep every night. He has been a rock for her for years as a friend and confidant, and since recent years, something more. The bond Ollie and Fortuna share is so precious and gentle. Around Ollie, this fierce and harsh form of Fortuna falls away, leaving a regular girl with regular feelings and thoughts. She is vulnerable and honest with him, and it brings such a loving and alluring side to Fortuna that the reader doesn’t normally see.

But what I really need to talk about, is this goddamn cliffhanger.

My soul, was shattered by this ending.

I spent 45 minutes staring at nothing after finishing this book. I sat on my living room floor at a complete loss, unable to form coherent sentences, and stricken by what happened. Usually I crave for an author to torture me and shred my feelings into nothing…but THIS?! THIS?? This was just cruel….and I loved every second of it.

But now, all we can do is wait for book three. And I am praying to all hell that it comes quickly, because I still feel like I’m going to vomit all my hopeless romantic emotions up. And so with that, all I have left to say is…

a demon? FFS.

5-stars

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Binding of Bindings · Wrap-Up

Binding of Bindings #39: January 2020 Book Wrap-up

The first month of 2020 came and went.

It was lovely. It was glorious.

It was downright spectacular.

But now it needs to make way for February.

So, January, I think it’s time you…

 

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~* January 2020 Book Wrap-Up *~

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1. The Hazel Wood (The Hazel Wood, Book 1) by Melissa Albert

The Hazel Wood

My first read of 2020 started off with The Hazel Wood, and honestly, what better way to dive into 2020?!

It’s a dark YA Fantasy that’s like a blend between Once Upon a Time and The Brothers Grimm. It’s a fairy tale inside a fairy tale, but it isn’t full of happy princesses and helpful creatures. It’s downright haunting, and you KNOW I was loving every second of it!

After Alice’s mother is taken, she is forced to seek out the one women her mother has forbade her from talking about or to – her grandmother, Althea Proserpine. Althea is a writer of strange and unusual fairy tales set in a place called The Hinterland, and had been holing herself up in her manor called The Hazel Wood for years. Alice begins seeking her out in order to find her mother, but the truth she uncovers is more than she could have imagined.

“My love he wooed me

My love he slew me

My love he buried my bones

His love he married

His love I buried

My love now wanders alone.”

5-stars

(See my review here)

 

2. The Night Country (The Hazel Wood, Book 2) by Melissa Albert

The Night Country

So of course my second read of 2020 was my ARC of The Night Country, the sequel to The Hazel Wood.

The Night Country still has the creep factor from The Hazel Wood, but it’s cranked up a notch. Not only is the book split between Finch traveling through strange and mysterious worlds and Alice, but Alice is dealing with some SERIOUSLY dark shit. There’s a struggle between two halves of who she is-one dark and one light-and in this installment, she really comes into her own.

“‘Look at me,’ I told him. ‘Look at your destruction.’”

Though I wasn’t as in love with this installment as I was with the first, due to it being more of an Urban Fantasy, I still enjoyed the creepy nature and getting to know more about these amazing characters. But even so, I just about died from happiness when THIS went down:

“‘You still think you live in a world where girls will lie down for you and show you their throats.’”

“‘Now lie down, and show me your throat.’”

4-stars

(See my review here)

 

3. Echoes Between Us by Katie McGarry

Echoes Between Us

As I said in my review,

If you feel like crying, you’ve come to the right place.

Echoes Between Us is about a girl who experiences piercing migraines from a brain tumor, and speaks to the ghost of her mother. Veronica is the “weird girl” in school and hangs with a collection of misfits, and they’re honestly the damn coolest. Sawyer is the popular, attractive, “perfect guy” at her school who ends up moving with his family into the unit below Veronica and her dad.

Obviously a love blossoms, but…*sigh*…this book gets real AF and touches on some sensitive topics. It’s a depiction of two teens who go through separate events in their lives that forces them to grow up quickly, but also gives them a really mature and beautiful outlook on life. The two bond over these aspects of their lives, and…it’s just wonderful.

“Soft fingers, a delicate touch and my entire body sparks to life. As if I had been in darkness-the world was black and white-and then the flip was switched into color.”

4-5-stars

(See my review here)

 

4. Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits, Book 1) by Katie McGarry

Pushing the Limits

So after reading Echoes Between Us, I decided I needed more Katie McGarry in my life and bought Pushing the Limits

It seems that this author loves to create stories that center on two charterers who are VASTLY different, but both have serious issues that they are fighting to overcome. This story is about Echo, a girl with “freakyscars on her arms but little recollection of how she received them, and a boy named Noah, a foster kid with a reputation for being a bit of a player.

This was a heavy one.

Noah lost his parents in a fire and was separated from his younger brothers through foster care, while Echo knows that a very traumatic event happened to her that included her mother, but she can’t exactly remember the events. Needless to say, this one hurts the heart in more ways then one. But these two characters are SO amazing on their own and even together. I LOVED them!

4-stars

 

5. Beyond the Shadowed Earth (Beneath the Haunting Sea, Book 2) by Joanna Ruth Meyer

Beyond the Shadowed Earth

My first DNF of 2020.

That didn’t take long, did it?

But with the new year I decided that I will not be wasting my time by forcing myself to read books I either hate or just can’t get into. There are WAY too many amazing books in the world and I am done with making myself suffer through pages that make my eyes droop.

Beyond the Shadowed Earth isn’t bad. I was just bored to tears.

It started off decently and grabbed my interest, but the lack of connection with the characters, the way the main lead, Eda, would stomp her foot and throw childlike tantrums, and the weird insta-love was just rubbing me the wrong way. I felt nothing for this book, it was just words on a page and I couldn’t do it.

 

6. The Will and the Wilds by Charlie N. Holmberg

The Will and the Wilds

Thankfully The Will and the Wilds didn’t slow my roll!

This YA Fantasy Romance was WONDERFUL! It’s a historical fantasy, set in a time where you have to walk to market to sell your goods and get supplies, ride a horse, go to another city to access their library…you know what I mean.

THIS is about these creatures called mystings who have come to roam the wildwood, a forest near where our heroine, Enna, lives. Mystings are demon-like monsters, some enjoy eating humans while others prefer to toy with them.

Enna’s house gets attacked by two goblers (a type of mysting, obvi) so she goes out to the wildwood to summon a mysting and “hire” it to track the gobler who had gotten away, and kill it. Long story short, the mysting she summons is Narval-a being who survives off the consumption of souls. Somehow he gets Enna to kiss him, which relinquishes part of her soul over to him, and so ensues a whole chaotic mess of romance and soul snatching.

4-stars

(See my review here)

 

7. Breaking the Rules (Pushing the Limits, Book 1.5) by Katie McGarry

Breaking the Rules

Another Katie McGarry book, but also the sequel to Pushing the Limits.

As you read above, I really loved Echo and Noah and how their tragic lives intertwined. So I immediately bought Breaking the Rules and continued to read about their issues, love and overall struggles.

But GODDAMN, this book was literally a story of two people fighting about any and everything they could POSSIBLY fight about. That was literally my Goodreads review of it:

Breaking the Rules:

A book about two young people fighting.

Seriously. That’s all I wrote.

But I didn’t hate it, I actually gave it 3 stars and finished it. It was just a lot of arguing and me yelling at my book for them to shut up and stop worrying about inconsequential shit, but to be fair…they had a lot of these arguments because of their pasts. So, in all fairness, I guess it makes sense. But geez, my sensitive soul just can’t take that much bickering.

3-stars

 

8. The Gray Chamber (True Colors series) by Grace Hitchcock

The Gray Chamber

The Gray Chamber!

A Historical Fiction/American Crime story set in 1887 about a woman who is thrown in an insane asylum so that her uncle can steal her fortune!

One thing I may love just as much as a cult, is an asylum.

Edyth is an eccentric young woman who isn’t your typical lady out in society. She fences alongside men, doesn’t wear corsets and big fancy gowns, and rides her velocipede rather than taking a carriage like a civilized woman.

So her dear uncle calls in some doctors from Blackwell Island, the local Insane Asylum, and has her committed.

Oh yeah, it’s a good one. I really enjoyed the first part of the story, but Edyth did start to bother me while she was in the asylum with all her “don’t you know who I am” talk and expecting someone to come do her hair…? What? The ending also dragged on longer than it needed to, being spread out through multiple chapters when it could have been tied up in one.

3-stars

(See my review here)

 

9. What Kind of Girl by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Release Date: February 4, 2020

What Kind of Girl

I have not posted my review of this BEAUTY of a story yet, but I will have it posted this weekend!

What Kind of Girl is about a girl who comes to school with a black eye, goes to her principle, and tells her that her boyfriend has been hitting her.

What ensues is a school divided. Those thinking it odd that she didn’t go to the police, wondering why she waited so long to tell if it’s true, and not believing their popular and sweet classmate could do such a thing vs. those who wish to rally for his immediate expulsion.

This is my second story by Alyssa B. Sheinmal, and it was just as amazing as the first book I read by her – A Danger to Herself and Others. This author knows how to talk about real mental health issues, and display them in a way that is both beautiful and scary. It seems like she reaches inside a persons soul and mind, extracts their fears and quirks, and displays them like she’s experienced every aspect of them.

*sigh*…it hurts so good.

Read it.

(review to come)

 

10. Together We Caught Fire by Eva V. Gibson
Release Date: February 4, 2020

Together We Caught Fire

“I wanted to scream at him and slap his face, kiss him until the world burned down. Dare him to call me cold again, once everything we’d known was ash.”

(review to come)

 

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Stay Witchy ❤

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

Book Review: The Will and the Wilds by Charlie N. Holmberg

The Will and the Wilds

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

Genre: YA/Historical Fiction/Fantasy/Romance

Plot: Enna knows to fear the mystings that roam the wildwood near her home. When one tries to kill her to obtain an enchanted stone, Enna takes a huge risk: fighting back with a mysting of her own.

Maekallus’s help isn’t free. His price? A kiss. One with the power to steal her soul. But their deal leaves Maekallus bound to the mortal realm, which begins eating him alive. Only Enna’s kiss, given willingly, can save him from immediate destruction. It’s a temporary salvation for Maekallus and a lingering doom for Enna. Part of her soul now burns bright inside Maekallus, making him feel for the first time.

Enna shares Maekallus’s suffering, but her small sacrifice won’t last long. If she and Maekallus can’t break the spell binding him to the mortal realm, Maekallus will be consumed completely—and Enna’s soul with him.

Opinion:

The strong prey on the weak, it has always been so. The setting is just happenstance.”

A species called mystings have been wandering the human realm and the wildwood near Enna’s village for years. They lurk through the darkness of the trees, killing and consuming those left unprotected or caught unawares. But Enna has always been kept safe by a charm on her wrist that warns of a mystings proximity-a charm her father stole from the monster realm. So when her home is suddenly attacked by not one, but two goblers, Enna is forced into the wildwood to summon a mysting in the hopes of striking a deal. She has heard that some mystings may be persuaded into work by mortals, and Enna hopes that a mysting will kill the creatures that seem to be hunting her. But the deal Enna makes will cost her more than she planned on bargaining with, and her soul might not be the only thing up for shattering.

Mystings should never be trusted. Ever.”

The Will and The Wilds is set in a much earlier period where horses are the primary use of transportation, food is traded in a market of a small village and talk of witchcraft is either whispered about or scoffed at. Enna and her father are practically shunned by their fellow villagers due to Enna’s fascination with the mystings that plague their world, and because her father experiences frequent lapses in his memories. Though there have been reports and sightings of mystings in the wildwood near their village, many villagers assume that they do not exist or think they have left. But Enna knows full well they are still very close and prowling the woods.

The day that Enna was born, some seventeen years ago, her father and mother were attacked by a species of mysting that delights in consuming humans. With Enna still in the womb, and her mother being horribly eaten alive (ugh, I know), Enna’s father is forced to cut her out of his wife and flee. Her father then finds a way into the monster realm (where the mystings originate from) and steals a charm from a powerful creature, which he brings back to Enna and gifts to her for protection. The charm that has hung on her wrist ever since warns of a nearby mysting. With this charm, several herbs and rituals to keep mystings at bay, and a journal that has been passed down in her family which holds vital information about the monster realm and its creatures, Enna is able to keep herself and her father safe. Until, of course, their home is attacked.  From her journal, Enna learns that sometimes mystings will make a bargain with humans if a summoning circle is cast. So naturally, the poor dear casts the circle.   

“Some of the intelligent species of mysting are tricksters-these are creatures more interested in toying with mortals than feasting upon them. However, do not let that fact convince you they are docile, for often a trickster will claim something far more valuable than flesh.”

Enter: Maekallus.

Devilish mysting creature with a razor-sharp tail, a horn sword and the kiss that will do more than just take a girls breath away

…it’ll take her soul too. ❤

Maekallus is a type of mysting called a Narval, who consume human souls with a kiss. After a deal between Enna and Maekallus turns south, and Maekallus is bound to the mortal realm with his body slowly decaying into a bubbly black tar, Enna makes the decision to willingly kiss him in order to save him. But what would normally leave a human completely soulless, somehow, only a piece of Enna’s soul is given to Maekallus.

“The mortal realm will devour a mysting’s body. The monster realm will destroy a human’s mind.”

This story is such a fantastical and beautiful tale. It blends two of my favorite genres (Fantasy and Historical Fiction) into an old-timey tale where portals to realms are opened, and a human becomes bound to a monster. It has a slight Beauty and the Beast romance mixed with a Grimm fairy tale darkness. Instead of angels and demons, it’s demons and humans, and it is totally swoon-worthy! The romance doesn’t overpower this wonderful plot by making it an eye-roll fest full of forced physical contact or stomach roiling one-liners. It feels natural and purposeful, and fully adds to the story that the author tells.

“It’s nothing like Tennith’s kiss. There’s desperation in the movement of his lips. They’re rough, but in a different way. Tennith was much warmer.

Maekallus is like kissing the twilight.”

There is a slight love triangle that happens, but trust me, it is so inconsequential to the big picture and it actually adds an amusing scene to the story that I was LOVING. I found Enna to be a very proper, strong, loyal and good-hearted character who is incredibly selfless. On more than one occasion she is willing to sacrifice herself for someone else, and she exudes a determination and strength that is to be envied. Maekallus is…mysterious. As a mysting he doesn’t have a soul, so he does not understand human emotions like fear, sadness, happiness, love or regret. He finds amusement in toying with humans and delights in consuming a soul to feel the short-lived traces of their emotions.

Though I fully enjoyed this story and read it in a day, I did find that there was a lot of moments that were either left unexplained or just weren’t tied up properly. The world-building wasn’t really there, the explanation of how a portal from the monster realm opened into the human world was vague, and scenes that didn’t center on Maekallus and Enna were left off to the side without a second glance. There was a lot of exciting moments that kept me hooked throughout the read, but I do wish there was more emphasis put on descriptions and extra history/research on the mystings in proximity to humans. But with that said, I also don’t think it takes away from the story at all. The writing is beautiful and eloquent, the dialogue is a fantastic representation of the times and the story as a whole is truly beyond creative. It was a perfect blend of fantasy, romance, sweetness and darkness.

4-stars

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