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

Book Review: Killing November (Book 1) by Adriana Mather

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Random House Children’s, via NetGalley for an honest review.  

Genre: YA/Mystery/Thriller

Plot: It’s a school completely off the grid, hidden by dense forest and surrounded by traps. There’s no electricity, no internet, and an eye-for-an-eye punishment system. Classes include everything from Knife-Throwing and Poisons to the Art of Deception and Historical Analysis. And all of the students are children of the world’s most elite strategists—training to become assassins, counselors, spies, and master impersonators. Into this world walks November Adley, who quickly discovers that friends are few in a school where personal revelations are discouraged and competition is everything. When another student is murdered, all eyes turn to November, who must figure out exactly how she fits into the school’s bizarre strategy games before she is found guilty of the crime…or becomes the killer’s next victim.

Opinion:

You know those books you come across that sound AMAZING, like they will be an EXACT fit for you, and are already praised and LOVED by EVERYONE?

And then you start reading it, all giddy and excited for what’s to come…

…but then you get about 60 pages in and are just kind of like…

Yeah.

Killing November.

November assumed she had a normal upbringing, that was until she arrived at Academy Absconditi. Here, the students aren’t animated with conversation, worried about calculus tests and pining over who will ask them to homecoming. Their movements are deliberate, and they are masters at mind games and killing. So why would November’s father leave her in a place like this? Where the teachers enact an “eye for an eye” punishment system,  family secrets are to be kept hidden for one’s safety and students keep turning up dead? Surrounded by people who assume she is weaving a clever game of innocence and daftness, November is thrust into a world she can barely navigate, all the while trying to learn the secrets of her family and who she is.

Killing November is a YA Mystery dripping in deceit, manipulation, darkness and brutality.

I witnessed all these themes and more while reading.

But in the end, all I was REALLY left feeling,

was indifference.

It started out great. November describes being named after a maple tree, how her father describes her as “too trusting”, and having awakened in dungeon-like room with little idea how she arrived there. Who wouldn’t be intrigued? As I started reading more, I learned that November is just like most of us readers – not entirely proficient in the art of deceiving and killing people via poisons, a bow and arrow or a set of freshly sharpened knives.

Woe is us for our normalcy.

She knows nothing of Strategia – an ancient secret society of spies and assassins, has barely heard a whisper about the Families of the Strategia who are responsible for pulling the strings behind MAJOR historical events throughout history, and has no idea how she fits into any of it. So as the story started picking up and November was thrust into her new lessons, I started noticing a constant theme of wishy-washiness with this character.

For most of the story, November is running around like a confused goose saying and doing the wrong things. I don’t blame the poor girl either, this school sounds like a nuthouse. But when November is given a task in lessons to steal a scarf off another player in the dark, or throw knives at targets…she becomes arrogant and cocky and just magically knows what she is doing.

Look, I love a confident character who has witty comments and a snarky attitude.

I know that she had a little training in these areas as a child.

But when the main character acts like a deer in headlights for 80% of the book, and has a few random and brief moments of god-awful one-liners boasting her perfection, it’s a turn-off.  After the first instance of this, and the multiple continuances of her silly demeanor and confusing personality after, I became increasingly checked out.

I almost DNF’d this book about 15 times, but kept at it because so many other readers were telling me how much they loved it. So I forced myself to keep reading…and reading…and…reading. In the end, they were right in some cases. It DID get better. But it wasn’t amazing and unforgettable.

It was just okay.

I really wish I could have fell in love with this story more, because the suspense was there. The mystery and grittiness were shouting through the pages, but I just couldn’t connect with November or any of the other characters for that matter.  The romance element was lacking in that it felt shoved together rather than formed naturally, and the friendship between Layla and November felt stiff. I just wasn’t invested in this read at all, and for that I am truly dismayed.

3-stars

 

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

Book Review: Smoke and Key by Kelsey Sutton

Smoke and Key

 

Genre: Young Adult/Historical Fiction/Fantasy/Romance

Plot: A sound awakens her. There’s darkness all around. And then she’s falling…

She has no idea who or where she is. Or why she’s dead. The only clue to her identity hangs around her neck: a single rusted key. This is how she and the others receive their names—from whatever belongings they had when they fell out of their graves. Under is a place of dirt and secrets, and Key is determined to discover the truth of her past in order to escape it.

She needs help, but who can she trust? Ribbon seems content in Under, uninterested in finding answers. Doll’s silence hints at deep sorrow, which could be why she doesn’t utter a word. There’s Smoke, the boy with a fierceness that rivals even the living. And Journal, who stays apart from everyone else. Key’s instincts tell her there is something remarkable about each of them, even if she can’t remember why.

Then the murders start; bodies that are burnt to a crisp. After being burned, the dead stay dead. Key is running out of time to discover who she was—and what secret someone is willing to kill to keep hidden—before she becomes the next victim…

Opinion:  

Death, lost love, walking corpses, corsets, propriety, falling from graves, curious momentous and magic.

Finally.

The spooky Historical Romance that your Gothic little heart was searching for.

Smoke and Key was just as beautiful, dark, sorrowful and mysterious as I’d hoped it would be.

Kelsey Sutton is Queen when it comes to ingenious and creatively mind-bending YA plots. She brings fantasy to life and completely astounds me with her imaginative ideas for books. Countdown clocks to death in Gardenia, a book of poetry about a girl living a life of imagination in The Lonely Ones, and a world where emotions take human form in the Some Quiet Place series?!

*Swoon*

But my newest Kelsey Sutton obsession centers on Smoke and Key. It’s an eerie Gothic mystery dripping in fog and Tim Burton tendencies. The story takes place in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, and moves between Key’s memories of her life and her time in Under. It is a time when young ladies are thrust into corsets and skirts, where propriety is everything, and when being caught with a member of the opposite sex in public, without a chaperone, is downright scandalous! It is a YA Crimson Peak (without the weirdness) and Corpse Bride mashup, stuffed with romance, murder and magic.

Under is neither heaven nor hell, it is a place in between, or so its inhabitants think. The place is downright creepy, and I was enamored with every moment of it. There is only dirt, cold and corpses in this depressing place and each person who walks its floor possesses the names of the objects they came with: Key, Smoke, Ribbon, Journal, Pocket Watch, Doll. The characters and the world of Under is like a funhouse for the dead. It’s filled with charismatic characters whose flesh and organs are literally decomposing before the readers eyes, and they’re tipping over the Looney Tunes side of the sanity spectrum.

Though there is no clear indication of what age characters like Key, Smoke and Journal are, I would have to guess that they are in their late teens or very early twenties. I found Key to be an absolute dream and am so grateful the author didn’t turn her into an immature wailing female. Key is the picture of poise and manners, even in death, and she comes off as an incredibly strong-willed lady of the dead. Match her up with the brooding, curious and dashingly Gothic Smoke, and we’ve got ourselves the match-up for every bleak black heart out there!

But obviously, the real addiction here is the thrilling ride the reader takes as they begin to uncover what Under is, and how these people got there. As Key’s memories begin to surface, she gets snippets and clues of her life when she was alive. A big house with a girl who calls her sister, a boy in a library, and American with an infectious grin and a knack for fighting. Each memory brings Key closer to learning about herself and how she died, but it also brings her closer to the dark side of her life.

This book brought out so many emotions in me while I was reading. Sadness, longing, excitement, disgust, curiosity. I LOVE the world this author created and the characters that fill its pages. It was so different from every YA Fantasy story currently out right now, and it is bound to be a favorite if you love a Gothic tale with magic. I devoured every page and am still hopelessly looking for more…*sigh*.

I’m going to be looking at cemeteries with longing in my eyes now.

 

5-stars

 

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Book Promo · Books · New Releases · Promo Blitz · Release Blitz · The Parliament House Press

Release Day Blitz: Wither (Prequel) and Wayward (The Hightower Trilogy, Book 3) by Jadie Jones

Publisher: The Parliament House
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Book Title: Wayward (The Hightower Trilogy, Book 3) and Wither: A Hightower Prequel
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Series: The Hightower Trilogy Prequel and Book #3
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Author: Jadie Jones
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~*~ RELEASE DAY ~*~

Today I have the release of 2 Books by Jadie Jones, both from her Hightower Trilogy series!

Book number 3, Wayward, and the prequel to the trilogy, Wither.

The Hightower Trilogy is a YA Paranormal/Fantasy Romance about a girl named Tanzy who is struck by lightning and is introduced to a new world that she was unable to see before, while also learning to truth behind her father’s death.

~Click here to purchase Wayward (The Hightower Trilogy, Book 3) on Amazon!~

~Click here to purchase Wither: A Hightower Prequel on Amazon!~

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Book Synopsis for Wither: A Hightower Prequel

For nearly a thousand years, Lucas, an immortal shapeshifter, has waited for Spera, his murdered human lover, to reincarnate. He has no way of knowing when or where she will return, or if she will even look the same in her new life. He must rely on his ability to recognize the actions of her fiery soul and her knack for attracting a killer king’s attention.

After his search leads him to a quiet Norwegian harbor town, a surreal encounter with his own kind leads to devastating consequences, causing Lucas to question his belief in himself and his quest. With his will and options quickly fading, Lucas is offered help from an old enemy who claims to have knowledge of Spera’s return. But it comes at a price: the assassination of the immortal king who took Spera’s life.

With an army raised and a strategy in place, Lucas is ready to attack, until the sudden appearance of a ghost from his past appears, forcing Lucas to take an even bigger risk than attempting to kill a malicious king…letting him live.

Book Synopsis for Wayward (The Hightower Trilogy, Book 3)

Tanzy’s journey races toward an explosive end in Wayward, the third book of the Hightower Trilogy.

Tanzy Hightower has crossed the veil between the Seen and Unseen worlds. She is now the only mortal in a land teeming with creatures who want her dead. To stay alive long enough to stop Asher and seal the door between worlds, she is forced to accept his marriage proposal and seek refuge inside his fortress. Tanzy is certain she can withstand any offers he makes to tempt her into opening the door, but he possesses a bargaining chip she could never have imagined.

On the Seen side of the veil, Tanzy’s allies are fragmented, lost, and leaderless. They must learn to work together as they gather more candidates and begin training to defend their world against unfathomable predators poised to strike should the veil holding them at bay dissolve. While Tanzy has accepted her own inevitable death in fulfilling her destiny, her closest friends refuse to stop searching for the impossible: a way to save Tanzy’s life.

A choice will be made. The veil will change. The worlds as Tanzy knows them will never be the same.

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Social Media Tags:
Instagram: @jadiejones1 , @theparliamentpress
Website: https://www.jadiejones.com/
Twitter: @Parliamentbooks
Facebook: Author Jadie Jones The Parliament House

 

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

Book Review: Stars in the Winter Sky by Michael Duda

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author, Michael Duda, for an honest review.

Genre: Short Story/Fiction/Paranormal

Plot: Who needs the paranormal? All Gina can think about is her ex-boyfriend. She can’t get over the breakup.

Anna wants Gina to forget about Todd. So she tells a scary story about the Winter Revelers. They were a mysterious group that had disappeared years ago in the woods behind Anna’s cabin.

So what do the two women decide to do on a cold Saturday morning? They take a winter hike in the woods to search for the missing Revelers.

But when they get lost, they encounter more than just the cold. The supernatural Winter Revelers want Gina to do something for them.

Opinion:

Reading a Michael Duda story is like falling into a black hole of raw human nature.

He will bring forth your fears and the sides of humans you pretend don’t exist, while also showcasing innocence and sweetness on a platter that makes your heart melt.

Michael Duda will rip back those shear black curtains obstructing your vision from seeing the world through an artists eye, and force you to appreciate everything, the good and the bad.

If you have been following my reviews for the last few years, you will have seen books by Michael Duda (M. Duda) pop up countless times on my blog. Most known for his eerie and dark short stories that he has compiled into shadow books, Michael flawlessly creates characters and scenarios that teach the reader a valuable lesson. While also pushing them to think.

His most recent work I have had the immense pleasure of reading, is Stars in the Winter Sky. It is a short story about two women who travel into the woods seeking adventure, but find something much more than just rows of trees and snowfall.

The characters are two ordinary women, just like you an I. Gina is in the midst of heartbreak and her dear friend Anna, a wilderness enthusiast, is doing everything in her power to lift her spirits. In an attempt to distract her from her woes, Anna shares a story with Gina about the Winter Revelers, a group of people who would travel into the woods every January to celebrate the snow. But one year, only two came back, and the others were lost forever.

Stars in the Winter Sky is a beautiful and delicate tale that will make a readers heart sing. While the Gina and Anna traveled through the woods to seek out the Winter Revelers, I could almost hear the silence from the snowfall. Picturing the scene was effortless due to Michael’s talent for bountiful compacted descriptions. I was so curious and intrigued to see what direction the author would take this story, and I am so happy with how it tied together.

I found the ending to be wistful and caring, and it even brought out a small smile onto my face that has since ceased to go away. Even now, my brain is working through every possible meaning the author was trying to make in this story. This is what I love about Michael’s stories, they make me THINK!

My only complaint is that Michael’s stories are so short. I am patiently waiting for the day that I can entomb myself in a creation of his that will render me incapacitated for hours.

Don’t leave me hanging here Michael.

5-stars

 

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Books · Promo Blitz · The Parliament House Press

Promo Blitz: Two Thousand Years Special Edition by M. Dalto

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Publisher: The Parliament House
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Book Title: Two Thousand Years (Special Edition)
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Series: The Empire Saga
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Author: M. Dalto
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This beautiful edition of Two Thousand Years is available NOW, but hurry – There are ONLY 30 copies available while supplies last!

Book Purchase Links:
Special Edition: The Parliament House Press – Two Thousand Years, The Special Edition Hard Cover
Kindle E-Book: Amazon.com – Two Thousand Years by M. Dalto
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In celebration of the GOT premiere, The Parliament House Press and author M. Dalto are re-releasing a special edition hardcover of Two Thousand Years! It even includes both of the Empire Saga novellas – Reylor’s Lament and Treyan’s Promise, with a bonus chapter from the second book in the series, Mark of the Empress!!!

THERE ARE ONLY 30 SPECIAL EDITION COPIES AVAILABLE!

~ The FIRST 15 people to purchase a Two Thousand Years special edition will ALSO receive a signed bookplate from the author, AND will get 20% off their purchase in The Parliament House shop.

Sounds amazing, right?!

But don’t worry, if the special edition copies sell out, the original E-Book is on sale for 0.99 cents today!

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There is also a GIVEAWAY for a chance to win a Signed Paperback Copy of Two Thousand Years, and a Digital E-Book of Two Thousand Years.

Head over to me Bookstagram to enter!

@JenacideByBibliophile

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Book Synopsis

Two thousand years ago, the Prophecy of Fire and Light foretold the coming of the Queen Empress who would lead the Empire into a time of peace and tranquility. But instead of the coming of a prosperous world, a forbidden love for the Empress waged a war that ravaged the land, creating a chasm between the factions, raising the death toll of innocent lives until the final, bloody battle.

Centuries later, Alexandra, a twenty-two-year-old barista living in Boston, is taken to an unfamiliar realm of mystery and magic where her life is threatened by Reylor, its banished Lord Steward. She crosses paths with Treyan, the arrogant and seductive Crown Prince of the Empire, and together they discover how their lives, and their love, are so intricately intertwined by a Prophecy set in motion so many years ago.

Alex, now the predestined Queen Empress Alexstrayna, whose arrival was foretold by the Annals of the Empire, controls the fate of her new home as war rages between the Crown Prince and Lord Steward. Either choice could tear her world apart as she attempts to keep the Empire’s torrid history from repeating itself. In a realm where betrayal and revenge will be as crucial to her survival as love and honor, Alex must discover whether it is her choice – or her fate – that determines how she survives the Empire’s rising conflicts.

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Social Media Tags:
Instagram: @author.mdalto , @theparliamentpress
Website: https://authormdalto.wordpress.com/
Facebook: M.Dalto – Author , The Parliament House
Twitter: @MDalto421 , @Parliamentbooks

 

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · Edelweiss+ · New Releases · Reviews

Book Review: White Rose by Kip Wilson

White Rose

 

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, via Edelweiss+ for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Historical Fiction/Poetry

Plot: A gorgeous and timely novel based on the incredible story of Sophie Scholl, a young German college student who challenged the Nazi regime during World War II as part of The White Rose, a non-violent resistance group.

Disillusioned by the propaganda of Nazi Germany, Sophie Scholl, her brother, and his fellow soldiers formed the White Rose, a group that wrote and distributed anonymous letters criticizing the Nazi regime and calling for action from their fellow German citizens. The following year, Sophie and her brother were arrested for treason and interrogated for information about their collaborators.

Opinion:

RESPONSE

Fritz tells me

Officer’s mail

Isn’t

Censored,

 

That I should

Feel free

To say

What I like,

 

Which is good

Because I have

Plenty

To say.

 

If you want to know what true beauty, conviction, bravery and strength looks like….read this book.

White Rose is the rebellion story that begs to be witnessed.

White Rose is the story of how a young German student, Sophie Scholl, became part of an anti-Nazi resistance group that was formed by her brother Hans, Willi Graf and Christoph Probst. Having grown up as members of Hitler Youth and experiencing the brutality of war, the boys craved a Germany that followed rules of justice rather than one of genocide. And so, the White Rose was formed in June of 1942 and was made up of many University of Munich students who protested the mass murders of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime. Though the group only lasted until 1943, hundreds of copies of six political resistance leaflets were drafted and distributed across Germany, in the hopes of inspiring German citizens and students to revolt against oppression.

 

Sophie & Hans Scholl with Christoph Probst 1942

 

AFTERMATH

We soon learn there’s been

An enormous wave

Of arrests throughout Germany

Of hundreds of teenagers

Including Hans, on his military base

All of them accused

Of getting together

In youth groups other than

The Hitlerjugend

Singing banned songs

Reading banned books

Things we do

Because

Ideas

Cannot

Be

Banned.

 

The group drafted six leaflets in total and distributed hundreds across Germany until the capture of its members. Due to the lack of paper and stamps that were available, the mailing of leaflets to different members of the White Rose was incredibly dangerous. The number of stamps and envelopes purchased by one person was tightly monitored by the Gestapo, and any suspicion of anti-Nazi propaganda was swiftly dealt with by arrest and biased trials at the People’s Court of Berlin, which usually ended in death by guillotine or imprisonment.

 

1310_Muhlenkamp_Rose-up

 

1940

Fritz doesn’t understand

Why this defiance matters

So much to me,

Won’t acknowledge

That our strongest weapon

Is our refusal

To follow blindly.

 

Vati says nothing

But his smile

My father’s approval

When I stand up

For what’s right

Means the world.

 

The beautiful and daunting telling of the White Rose group is so much more than I imagined it would be. When I requested this title from Edelwiess, I wasn’t even aware that it was a story told in poetry! But after reading it, I can’t imagine it being told in any other way. These poems give these brave young adults a HUGE voice. Their conviction and feelings are screaming through to the reader on every stanza, every page.

The members of this group quickly become a friend you could have known from school, a neighbor, a sibling. They are familiarized to you by their thoughts, and brought in close by their actions and movements. Kip Wilson has woven their story, and their actual letters to one another, into this riveting and gut-pummeling piece of artwork. By the end of the book I was fueled with an anger for what happened to these people, but also left in awe for how brave and fiercely they stood up for their beliefs of a better Germany.

 

SELFLESSNESS

Letter to Fritz: June 1940

Dear Fritz,

People shouldn’t be

Ambivalent

About the world around

Them simply because

Everyone else

Is ambivalent.

People who

Refuse

To open their eyes

Are more than ambivalent-

They are guilty.

How can we expect

Justice

In this world

If we’re not prepared to

Sacrifice ourselves

For what’s right?

 

My only complaint is that I wanted more time with this book…and more time for these beautiful people who took a stand when so few others in their country would. It is a frightening thought, to stand up against a power and force so strong as the Nazi regime. But it is a truly beautiful notion, to think that these young adults made up their own minds on what they thought was right, and then acted on it until their deaths.

Books like this, that tell the true story of people like Sophie and Hans Scholl, Kurt Huber, Alexander Schmorell, Willi Graf and Christoph Prost, who stood up against tyranny with their lives, are what makes me incredibly happy to be human.

 

A REALIZATION

Our deaths

Will mean

Something.

 

The world will react,

And someday

Someone

Will punish

 The people

Who are doing

These terrible things.

 

The ribbon widens,

Flooding

My mind

With a river of hope.

5-stars

 

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Blog Tour · Book Promo · Books · New Releases · Release Blitz · The Parliament House Press

Release Day Blitz: Stars Over Zephyr by Kathryn Lee Martin

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Publisher: The Parliament House
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Book Title: Stars Over Zephyr
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Series: Snow Spark Saga Series (Book #3)
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Author: Kathryn Lee Martin
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Happy 2nd of April bookworms and lovers of the written word!

This week I bring you the release of Book 3 in the Snow Spark Saga series called Stars over Zephyr. I partnered up with the amazing Parliament House to share this newest release from Kathryn Lee Martin, and to give you a little information on what to expect with this newest installment!

The Snow Spark Saga series is a Young Adult Fantasy set in a Dystopian/Western world after the eruption of Yellowstone National Park. The world is divided into settlements, Hydra and Rondo, and follows main characters Tracker and Rags as they work as “rustlers” for Rondo by stealing goods and supplies from Hydra. The series follows Rags as she fights for survival and to keep her family together in a brutal and harsh new world.

It was released today, April 2, 2019, so you can get your copy now!!!

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Book Synopsis

With the Kingdom in chaos over her botched public execution, sixteen-year-old Rags has only one thing on her mind: survival. But that’s no easy feat with the Kingdom Corps chasing her, and every citizen wanting to cash in on the ultimate bounty. One place may offer shelter, though—Solstice, a lawless settlement where criminals go to seek refuge.

Yet Solstice is anything but a safe haven. A professional bounty hunter prowls its seedy streets and a ruthless anti-Kingdom rebel group, known as the Supporters, are rumored to call this settlement home. Neither side is friendly to outsiders. Having fled with former second-in-command-turned-traitor, Henrick Oreson and former luresman, Colton Caelan Fieldson, it’s a chance Rags will have to take.

Their options few, they must work together to survive a hostile new world while on the run, earn the respect of the Supporters, and regroup against the Kingdom. If they fail, civil war among the settlements will rage Kingdom-wide. If they’re successful, it could mean a chance at revenge against Hyperion and his cruel Threshing Floor, and the possible opportunity to take back their Kingdom once and for all…

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Social Media Tags:
Instagram: @rynsagequill , @theparliamentpress
Website: https://www.rynleewrites.com
Facebook: The Parliament House

 

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