Binding of Bindings · Book Wrap-up

Binding of Bindings #49: July 2020 Book Wrap-up

I’m not going to lie…
the reading game has been tough AF lately.
It’s been month after month of no desire to read, less than thrilling books when I do read, and the relentless drooping of my eyelids when skimming lines.
But finally, it’s as if something has pulled me from the depths of my cookie over-eating, refusals to workout, and dark hole of The End of the F***ing World reruns, and has chosen to give me a gift
A new lease on life and a love for books about murder, stalkings and cannibalism.

 

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~* July 2020 Book Wrap-Up *~

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I know we’re halfway into August.

Just let it happen.

 

1. Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling/LGBT

Girl Serpent

Okay so this one obviously isn’t about cannibalism or stalking, but you’ll notice that as this list goes on, it starts to take a dramatic shift from YA Fantasy to literal cannibalism.

What can I say?

The heart wants what the heart wants.

Girl, Serpent, Thorn was pretty mehhhhhh. It’s a mix retelling of Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty and some other fairytale called Rappaccini’s Daughter. It’s about a Princess who is cursed with the touch of poison, and is forced into solitude so that the royals can keep her secret hidden…and so she doesn’t, you know…

kill someone with a poke.

What I had hoped would be an epic tale of sorrow and isolation of a Princess, and a slow-burn love interest where they both know they can’t have one another…was more like eye-rolling insta-love and too many instances where they could get around touching each other.

Meh. Not my jam.

3 Stars

(See my review here)

 

2. Accidental by Alex Richards
Genre: YA/Contemporary

Accidental

“𝑩𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒌 𝒕𝒘𝒊𝒄𝒆 𝒊𝒇 𝒚𝒐𝒖’𝒓𝒆 𝒕𝒓𝒂𝒑𝒑𝒆𝒅 𝒊𝒏 𝒂 𝒉𝒐𝒔𝒕𝒊𝒍𝒆 𝒔𝒊𝒕𝒖𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏.”

Ugh. This book.

Accidental is a tear-inducer and makes your teenage self want to crawl under your blankies and wail like a wounded antelope.

It’s the story of a teenage girl who has been living with her grandparents since she was a young girl, when her mother was killed in a car accident and her father bailed. But the reemergence of her father brings secrets to the surface, and this one being that Johanna’s mother didn’t actually die in a car accident.

She was killed by a gunshot wound, and Johanna was the one that pulled the trigger.

It’s about how Johanna comes to terms with something she did as a very young child. An event that she doesn’t remember, but one that changes her life forever. She is thrust into guilt for killing her mother, for taking away the only daughter her grandparents had, and for being the reason that they had to take her in.

This character goes through some serious pits of self-loathing…and damn if I wasn’t living for every second of it.

Obviously gun control is the big theme here, but don’t worry. BOTH sides of this debate are represented.

4.5 Stars

(See my review here)

 

3. Seasons of the Storm (Book 1) by Elle Cosimano
Genre: YA/Fantasy

Seasons of the Storm

I read this in early July and I still haven’t reviewed it.

Does that tell you anything?

The plot for this book is SICK, which is the whole reason I requested it.

Seasons of the Storm is about seasons being embodied by people, and each time it becomes a new season, the coming season has to KILL the current season in order for their time to start.

Summer kills Spring.

Autumn kills Summer.

Winter kills Autumn.

Spring kills Winter.

Unfortunately, it just wasn’t WOW at all.

It’s a story that has multiple characters that the reader has a chance to connect with and become invested in, but instead of their stories and personalities shining through, all we really get is that annoying trope of every pair coupling off.

The main plot is these “seasons” wanting to escape and live a life outside of this world they were brought into. Where there are constantly killing or being killed.

But their escape is rushed, and everything after their escape from the facility was soooooo BORING.

It was like a bad Maze Runner.

2.5 Stars

 

4. The Summer I Drowned by Taylor Hale
Genre: YA/Mystery/Thriller

The Summer I Drowned

Another book from early July that I have yet to review.

I haven’t decided on a rating for this book yet, and probably won’t until my review. But I will say this…

The Summer I Drowned was a bit forgettable, but still pretty attention grabbing.

It’s not a bad book by any means though!

It’s about a girl who comes back to her hometown after being away for five years. When she was a kid, she fell off a cliff’s edge and into the ocean where she almost drowned. Once a huge swimmer and lover of the water, now Olivia has a deep fear of going anywhere near it.

After countless years of therapy, she decides that going back to her hometown for the Summer (where it all happened) would be great for her healing process.

But when she arrives back, expecting her old friendships to be exactly the same, she realizes that she isn’t the only one who has changed.

The conclusion is actually quite creative and interesting, and definitely unexpected. It makes you question what you read and the main character, which is really all we want in a mystery/thriller isn’t it? But when it comes to that romance? UGH.

Gag me.

 

5. The Shuddering by Ania Ahlborn
Genre: Adult/Horror/Thriller

The Shuddering

A Blizzard and cabin in the woods?

Check.

Group of adults focused entirely too much on themselves?

Check.

Wendigo-like creatures spraying red across the serene snowy landscape, butchering human bodies and expertly planning how they will get their prey?

Check.

The Shuddering is basically a fucked-up version of Until Dawn, but in book form and without Rami Malek.

*sad face*

It was the first pick in my newest book club:

If You Like Cannibalism.

Cute, right?

Five adults go out to a cabin as a last get-together before one of them moves to another country. But while there, in the dead of winter, they all start to get picked off.

One by one.

Your typical horror, right?

How one of these characters gets killed is sooooo beyond fucked. Beyond twisted, BEYOND DEMENTED…but oh so good.

5 Stars

 

6. I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick
Genre: YA/Mystery/Thriller

I killed zoe spanos

I Killed Zoe Spanos was another great YA mystery/thriller that I can add to my list of books that were just done right.

The story centers on the disappearance of a girl named Zoe Spanos, who vanished on New Year’s Eve from the Hamptons without a trace. The following summer, a girl named Anna Cicconi arrives in the Hamptons for a job as a nanny, and as a way to take a break from the partying she was doing in Brooklyn.

But when Anna arrives and begins to learn about the disappearance of this girl Zoe, she also learns how eerily similar the too look. It’s not long before Anna obsessively begins finding out more on this missing girl, and eventually…

…she ends up confessing to murdering her.

The story flips back between the summer when Anna arrives, and to a few months after her confession. But a local refuses to believe Anna is responsible for Zoe’s death, so she takes it upon her self to find answers.

Seriously, what a trip.

I had suspicions about where this would go, and some were correct. But where it actually ended up? I didn’t foresee that. And to be honest, I was a bit disappointed with the ending because it felt a little too forced and unbelievable, and I wanted things between certain characters to be tied up.

But overall, a solid mystery.

4 Stars

(See my review here)

 

7. Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall
Genre: Adult/Thriller/Mystery

Our Kind of Cruelty

OKAY.

On to the good shit

Stalkers.

July’s pick for the Psycho Sloth Book Club was Our Kind of Cruelty, and I seem to be one of the only people in the group who actually liked it.

If you don’t know about the Psycho Sloths – we all fell in love with Joe Goldberg from YOU and his stalkery yet totally justifiable means of murdering people who just aren’t good influences on the women he loves.

We love his passion. His dedication. His heart and soul!

And especially that Penn Badgley plays him in the show.

He’s a lover, not a killer.

Anyways, now the book club has turned into a stalker extravaganza!

Enter: Mike Hayes.

Mike is a sexy man with a great bod, a successful job and an unflinching loyalty and love for his girlfriend Verity. He works long hours to provide for her, built their dream home and keeps it the way she likes and always thinks of her first.

The only problem is that Verity is engaged to someone else.

Woe is Mike.

But the reason Mike continues to pursue Verity is because he thinks they are still playing Crave – a game they made up when they were dating where Verity would enter a club alone, and when a guy came up to hit on her, Mike would intervene and then they’d get all hot and heavy.

This isn’t just a tale of loving from afar though. This shit gets WILD.

Even now, I am so unsure of what the truth is. Is Mike crazy? Or is Verity just a bitch? I DON’T KNOW! But I will say this…

…I’m just trying to find my Crave partner.

4 Stars

 

8. Brother by Ania Ahlborn
Genre: Adult/Horror/Thriller

Brother

Hey,

Literally, the best for last.

This book means EVERYTHING to me, okay?

EVERYTHING!

It was the SECOND book in one month for the If You Like Cannibalism Book Club, and lemme tell you hooooney

So. Much. Cannibalism.

I feel complete. Almost whole.

As if I have been waiting my entire life for this fucked up, brutal and demented way of thinking that flows through Ania Ahlborn’s beautiful head.

She is the horror goddess.

Brother is about a sweet family of cannibals who live in the outskirts of Appalachia, some time in the 70’s. They lure cute, young strawberry blondes onto their property where they torture and kill them, and then eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

But this story is SO much more than that. It follows main character Michael Morrow, who has never wanted to hurt people the way his mother and brother Reb seem to. He doesn’t get enjoyment out of his tasks of chasing the girls down when they escape, or chopping up their bodies. But when you’re a Morrow, it’s kill or be killed.

Any author who can make me love a character who is mentally unhinged and/or does horrible things has all of my respect. Ania Ahlborn is 100%, without a doubt, my new favorite author. She thrusts so much humanity and unrelenting hopelessness into her stories, and has made my skin crawl while putting the hugest smile on my face.

Read this, and everything else she writes.

5 Stars

 

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Stay Witchy

 

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Book Promo · New Releases

Release Day: Dearest Clementine (Letters, 1) by Candace Robinson

Book Title: Dearest Clementine
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Series: Letters, Book 1
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Authors: Candace Robinson
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~*~ Release Day ~*~

I have paired up with author Candace Robinson to being you the release of her newest short story collection of romantic tales, Dearest Clementine.

Is this cover stunning, or what?!

This collection of deeply dark and romantic tales is perfect for fans of epic, dark love. You will swoon for these monstrous characters!

~Click here to add it to your Goodreads shelf!~

~Click here to Order your copy!~

~Synopsis below~

Dearest Clementine

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Book Synopsis
Clementine has been taken by a creature of darkness.

Dorin is a fiend in love who must find Clementine before losing her forever.

While on his desperate search, Dorin pens eight dark and romantic monstrous tales, written only for Clementine. Each story serves a purpose, and that is, do monsters have the ability to love, too?

Dearest Clementine is a short story collection filled with dark romantic tales.

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Social Media Tags:
Instagram: @literarydust
Website: https://authorcandacerobinson.wordpress.com/
Twitter: @literarydust
Goodreads: CandaceRobinson
Book Reviews · Netgalley · New Releases

Book Review: The Boundless (The Beholder, Book 2) by Anna Bright

The Boundless

(See my review for Book 1 – The Beholder, here)

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

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling

Plot: When Selah found true love with Prince Torden of Norway, she never imagined she’d have to leave him behind. All because the Beholder’s true mission was a secret Selah’s crew didn’t trust her to keep: transporting weapons to the rebels fighting against the brutal tsarytsya, whose shadow looms over their next port of Shvartsval’d. A place Selah hoped she’d never go.

But gone is the girl who departed Potomac filled with fear. With a stockpile of weapons belowdecks and her heart hanging in the balance, Selah is determined to see the Beholder’s quest to its end.

Opinion:

Assuming you read my review of The Beholder (book 1), you will have quickly realized how much I was LIVING and BREATHING for this world.

The messy romances, the adventure, court politics and gowns, propriety, sensibility, duty, folklore and fairy tales

AMAZING!

But when I was knee-deep in The Boundless and sloshing around in enemy territory with a very odd tension/competition dynamic, and a heroine that seems to have blossomed into a badass over night, I was just a bit…

…well…

Le sigh.

After being rushed out of Norway and back onto The Beholder, Selah and the crew are forced to continue the tour to find Selah a husband. But the next stop on the list is the one place they have all been dreading since they embarked on their journey – Shvartsval’d. Within the territories of the Imperiya Yotne and the feared tsarytsya, whom they refer to as Baba Yaga, dangers are lurking around every corner and their moves are closely monitored. The crew plans to get in and get out as quickly as possible, but with Lang having trouble contacting the rebels to unload their weapons, Selah must take matters into her own hands. But even after having to leave the boy she fell in love with, and a confusing romantic spark growing, Selah knows that one wrong move could bring her entire world crumbling down.

This wasn’t horrible by any means, but it was just a little too dull and I was rolling my eyes a liiiiiittle too much.

The intense and emotional roller coaster I was on in The Beholder didn’t cross over into The Boundless, by any means. In the first book, I had practically ever other sentence highlighted, I was overwhelmed with feelings and dazzled by the constant misleading directions the author threw me into. I was smiling like an idiot one moment, squealing like a schoolgirl the next, and gasping like a nun at the sheer audacity and turmoil ensuing. But with The Boundless, I was left feeling like the author missed the mark.

In comparison with book one, these are pretty different books. The Beholder focused on the Selah’s stepmother shipping her off to various countries and eligible Prince’s, so it was very much a Bachelorette styled story that felt like The Selection series, with pirate-like vibes. There was court politics, wooing, and romance. But in The Boundless, the story shifts focus more towards the rebellion and the Imperiya Yotne – the “bad guys” of this tale.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love a rebellion series and the shift in the focus isn’t what is irking me about this installment. It’s that the shift between YA Romance to YA Fantasy-Rebellion-Badass Female Lead felt…bumpy? In book one, Selah is SO new to being courted. She had only one crush her entire life, and she had never even kissed the guy. So obviously our girl is shy, awkward, innocent and sort of fumbling through what is expected of her. She has no idea what she’s doing, is too trusting of those around her, and seems to just rush headfirst into every emotional situation.

So when we get to The Boundless, it’s like she suddenly just figured everything out and is now wholly confident, strong, brash, forceful and a master schemer?

I know, I know.

“Those experiences helped her unlock her potential.”

Maybe so, but the transition just didn’t feel organic, and I think it’s because there wasn’t enough focus on building Selah’s character. These books are LONG and there is a lot that happens, but what I was really needing was some extra attention put towards molding Selah so that we, the readers, could actually form a strong connection with her.

After reading book 1, I didn’t completely love Selah but I felt like I had a good understanding of who she was. But now? I can’t really stand her. Her strength felt forced, her wit and quick-thinking seem to have appeared out of nowhere, and she suddenly knows how to put her emotional entanglements aside and focus on taking a dictator down?

Her “I’ll do it myselfattitude wasn’t consistent with who the author had been writing about. In one instance Selah just takes charge and says she doesn’t need anyone. But then she is always waiting to be saved. Waiting for “you know who” to come and save her. Well, which is it? Are you wanting to be saved, or are you doing your own saving?

And speaking of emotional entanglements

Wtf was going on with that weird little almost, but not quite, love triangle?

I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so I’m going to keep the details on the DL, but I will say this: it felt like the author was trying to emulate a Bella-Edward-Jacob situation, but the execution was just weird and left my face all scrunched up and stuck in a state of annoyed confusion. There was no connection between Selah and “he who must not be named“. In The Beholder, I was hardcore panicking about them getting together, especially after I fell in drooly love with the “you know who” guy. But the fear of it going the way I didn’t want was exciting, and he had an allure and bad-boy/NAGC/mystery sort of aura about him.

But in The Boundless, I just wanted to smack him.

Their relationship got competitive and made even less sense than before, and I was hating every second of it. He was NOT a desirable character in this sequel, and I found their banter and interactions totally strange. THANKFULLY, things turned out how I hoped. But even so, those romantic reunions were so anti-climactic. I wanted to be punched in the face with emotion, not gently handed my wishes on a silver platter by a butler.

Like c’mon, make me beg for it!

Anyways. Once again the names of places and people’s names were confusing and I had a horrid time trying to connect things. I was hoping that was going to be ironed out in this sequel, but it wasn’t. But I am pleased with the book’s outcome and the added levels of intricacies that the author wove in. I just wish there would have been more of this type of plot in the first so that there could have been a seamless transition between the books, but even so, it works.

One of my favorite aspects of this series has been the blending of this new fantasy story with a few other classic fairy tales. We had mentions of The Odyssey, similar elements to Cinderella, and the obvious comparison of Baba Yaga. In Boundless, we get a few extra tales as well. There are a few Little Red Riding Hood mentions, but my favorite was the ode to the The Twelve Dancing Princesses. This gave the story intrigue, mystery and a means to connect certain plot points.

Overall, I liked it, but I definitely didn’t love The Boundless as much as I loved The Beholder. I was riding high on swoon clouds in book 1, and sitting in an even-paced horse and carriage in book two. It was a great story that had a ton of exciting adventure and turmoil happening, and even blended in some new fairy tales that readers will recognize. I guess I just wasn’t ready for the switch in story style, and was expecting a bit more focus and attention on the romance

3 Stars

 

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Book Promo · Book Reviews

Book Review: Aetherstorm (Songs of Sarin, Book 1) by Alexander Ferrick

Aetherstorm

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

Genre: High Fantasy

Plot: What is the Aetherstorm?

They said it was a tournament to discover the mightiest warrior in the land, but it is far more…

To the Demons, it is a chance to reclaim their former glory…

To a Prince, it is a chance to prove himself worthy of the crown…

To a Rebel, it is a chance at freedom…

To an Orphan, it is a chance at justice… or vengeance…

…What is the Aetherstorm?

The Aetherstorm is a trap.

When demons disguised as elves begin inviting the citizens of Sarin to a fighting tournament, Prince Maronir takes it upon himself to go there in secret and discover what the demons are up to.

Along the way, a botched assassination attempt forces Maronir to join Luca and Garron, two human orphans who are also going to the tournament to find the man who killed their adoptive father and mentor.

As the prince and his new friends journey across Sarin, he finds himself confronted by the harsh reality of his kingdom, and learns that the greatest tests of kingship happen far from the battlefield.

Will those lessons matter after the demons true plans are revealed? Time will tell…

Opinion:

“Come and prove yourself…”

“…join the Aetherstorm.”

A world where humans are practically extinct and subject of tales told to elven children in order to keep them in line?

Demons, Dwarves, Cyclopes, Magic?

An epic battle arena that’s like The Gladiator on mage crack?

Aetherstorm is my second read by Alex Ferrick, and color me completely unsurprised – this kicked ass. It’s the first in the Songs of Sarin series set in a fantastical world where magic is called Aether, demons have been unleashed upon the planes, and elves and dwarves are the dominant species. This is PACKED with detail and world-building so exquisite, I can hardly fathom how on earth so much epicness could possibly be shoved into just 123 pages.

It must be

This book, like any true fantasy should, has a cast of wonderfully diverse and badass characters who carry the reader to the end on a tidal wave of slick remarks and deadly battling. There is an Elven Prince whose bloodline is tied deeply into Aether magic in order to control the demons that have spilled into their world, two humans – one a mage, and another just simply a badass, a dwarf blacksmith, and a *gasp* could it be?! A HYBRID elf/dawrf female who puts them all to shame?!

“In time you will learn, my friend, that the worst monsters are beautiful.”

I usually get a bit daunted by High Fantasy stories. With the confusing names, types of magical systems, countless species and conflict…it can be hard to keep up. But with Aetherstorm, you will NOT have that problem. This author is an expert at flawlessly expressing a really in-depth and creative world in a form that anyone can follow. It is straight-forward and addicting, but has layers of truly creative content screaming from its pages.

But what never ceases to amaze me about Alex, is how his mind seeps into endless nooks and crannies of creativity and pulls out truly unique, original ideas for stories. In less than 150 pages the reader is blessed with SO MUCH. Like each generation of royalty being eternally imprisoned on thrones for harnessing the Aetheroot magic to contain the demonic presence. Or a world where Evles and Dwarves are superior, and humans are practically extinct and woven into scary stories told to misbehaving magical children.

There are battles. There is bloodshed. There are acts of revenge, trickery, ruthless killings and vile creatures. But there are also moments of justice and compassion. It’s a thrilling adventure story that has no time for pausing and will make it impossible for you to put it down. This was a fantastic fantasy tale that had me hooked and wishing for more. I cannot wait for the next installment in this series!

5 Stars

 

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Book Reviews

Book Review: The Beholder (Book 1) by Anna Bright

The Beholder

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling

Plot: Selah has waited her whole life for a happily ever after. As the only daughter of the leader of Potomac, she knows her duty is to find the perfect match, a partner who will help secure the future of her people. Now that day has finally come.

But after an excruciatingly public rejection from her closest childhood friend, Selah’s stepmother suggests an unthinkable solution: Selah must set sail across the Atlantic, where a series of potential suitors awaits—and if she doesn’t come home engaged, she shouldn’t come home at all.

From English castle gardens to the fjords of Norge, and under the eye of the dreaded Imperiya Yotne, Selah’s quest will be the journey of a lifetime. But her stepmother’s schemes aren’t the only secrets hiding belowdecks…and the stakes of her voyage may be higher than any happy ending.

Opinion:

What is this…sensation blossoming inside me?

*claws at face and chest*

It’s…

It’s unBEARable!

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“You tend to gardens and fields with the women and to the stock with the men. That makes you one of the people. That does not make you their leader.”

As Seneschal-elect of Potomac, and daughter to the current leader, Selah will soon have the responsibility of her country of Potomac resting on her shoulders. And being Eighteen she is expected to marry, to present a strong and united front as she leads her people. But when Selah extends an offer of marriage to Peter, a boy she has always yearned for from afar, and he rejects her proposal, her step-mother and the council take matters into their own hands. She is forced to travel across the Atlantic by ship with a crew of misfits, stopping in several countries and courting the eligible Princes, each for two weeks, in the hopes of proposals. Heartbroken, embarrassed, and only agreeing out of duty, Selah and her crew set off. But the royalty Selah meets is far from what she could have expected, and countless secrets and games are lurking around every corner.

“I didn’t want his proposal. I didn’t want to be a princess. I was never born to wear a crown.”

“Do not waste your efforts on good-for-nothing boys. Do not cast your pearls before swine.

“You are everything you ought to be.

When I started The Beholder…I’ll be honest, I didn’t think it would be that great. I had been debating purchasing it since it released a year ago, and every time I was about to buy it, I found myself not able to. The reviews from other readers have been super conflicting, some sprinkled in praise and others feeling luke-warm, but I was especially weary that it would be dull or completely lacking.

Well.

Curse me for second-guessing myself because…

This was everything.

“No mortal wounds, perhaps, but the scars these boys had left me would remain.

“The weight of the chaos was going to flatten me.”

This isn’t just a YA Fantasy retelling with a few Cinderella and Odyssey elements. And honestly, even calling it a Fantasy is a bit of a stretch. This world is a mix of fictional and real places. Europe plays a huge role, but peppered throughout are fictional countries and cities – like the one our dear heroine hails from. Also sprinkled within these pages are countless folklore and fairy-tales from all over the world, and each lends a hand to the plot and the direction our main character is thrust towards.

“. . . and if ye will listen but a little I will tell it you with tongue As I have heard it told, In a story brave and strong, In a loyal book of old, In the land it has been long.” —Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Selah is a sweet and a fairly dainty young woman with a great work ethic, and someone who is easily likeable. She is wrapped in innocence and her eyes bubble over with hope and sincerity for those around her, even when their eyes unfortunately do not. Upon the first few chapters, you are instantly heartbroken for her already. Not only is she woefully rejected by a boy she has loved from afar since she was a wee lass, but it is done so in front of EVERYONE. And THEN, to make matters worse, the fate of her love-life is discussed and decided by council members and her evil stepmother – “smother”, Alessandra.

And oh my sh, is this woman a piece of work.

“If Alessandra came down and caught me crying in the dark, she’d lean into my weakness, press on my bruises in front of the others until they thought me as spineless as she did.

If an author want’s me to feel heartbroken within the first 30 pages of a book, all you have to do is make a young girl feel entirely alone, while her sickly father stands by and does nothing.

Shatter me, why don’t you.

But this is just the beginning of heartbreak in The Beholder.

It was kind of him to pretend I wasn’t drowning.

I don’t even know how to describe the amount of sorrow I was feeling alongside Selah as she experienced betrayal after betrayal. Here is this beautiful soul, thrust into a duty of having to flaunt herself in front of princes and impress them enough to be offered proposals, all in the hopes of returning to her country to care for her sick father…and in the midst of being completely rejected! I felt her embarrassment, her loneliness and every wave of uncertainty that rolled through her. She is a shy introvert who just wants love. Not a title, a crown or a prince as a husband.

“He’d left me burning brighter than the candles.

Now I just felt burned.”

The Beholder is the name of the ship that Selah voyages on to meet her suitors, and the crew running it are a smattering of beautiful souls with various ethnic backgrounds, ages, and personalities. The author gives you just enough information and dialogue from them to instill a sense of trust and comfortably, but also withholds enough to keep you constantly wondering. Though I was a little surprised at how quickly these crew members become protective of Selah, I also found it entirely endearing.

“I imagined having a job onboard the Beholder, instead of being a job myself. Imagined being one of their friends, instead of cargo.”

And even though these crew members are fiercely loyal to Selah and always put her protection first, the reader quickly learns that there is something more going on when Selah isn’t looking. Most mysterious of all, is our dear Captain Lang. A VERY young captain in his early twenties (and dashing, I might add) riddled with secrets and complete intrigue. And even now, I am STILL wondering about this guy! With overly concerned glances and notions towards Selah, a tuck of hair behind an ear here, or an accidental lacing of fingers there…suffice it to say, I was being thrown in a million directions wondering WHO THE LOVE INTEREST IS!!!

“Would I ever learn what seeds he sowed that bloomed in bruises on his cheeks?”

Speaking of love interests

If there were ever a story to bloat me with so much love, and just as quickly drop my heart to the floor through my stomach

…it would be this one.

“You are making a mistake.”

“You are making a mistake.”

“You are making a mistake.”

How do I even explain the sheer mind messery that the love in The Beholder invokes? It is twisted, quick, fleeting, meddlesome, loaded, passionate, dark, light, achingly sweet and crushingly wretched. There are games layered in secrets layered in maneuvers and countermoves. Selah is a pawn in so many maps and boards, it’s devastating to witness. Her unwavering trust in people is endearing, yet wholly painful. Her desire to forgive and forgive is admirable, and the way she propels herself onward is empowering. The girl launches herself at the chance of love and being loved, and it makes me both happy and sad.

“My heart was a lit candle, a forest fire, a burning star. Doomed, but smiling.”

But her fear and lack of confidence in herself is truly the most sorrowful of all.

“I realized I’d been waiting for this moment, this inevitable point when he would look at me—soft, scared, unremarkable—and see that he could do better.”

I so SO badly want to dive into the romance angle, but I will spill all the beans of everything, and the unraveling of this story is just too good for me to do that to you. Just know that this is going to be an emotional whirlwind if you’re ready for it, and if you can understand/tolerate quick love.

But let me just say this: the siblings of Asling Fortress make my heart sing.

On another note, the world building.

There is a LOT of world building explaining in this, and let me not be the first to say, it’s damn confusing. Never have I encountered so many names that I didn’t even attempt to sound out. Call me lazy, but geez…those jumbles of letters were daunting. So in terms of making sense of the world – what was real and what wasn’t – yeah, I was pretty little lost. There was an excessive unloading of fictional names and places that I could not make sense of, try as I might. And even the land of Imperiya Yotne (that’s…the land, right?) which acts as “the villainbarely made much sense to me. All I know is there is something about the tsarytsya, they’re evil, and some mutterings of Baba Yaga – an old Russian folklore, sort of like the Boogeyman

“When Baba Yaga locks the door, Children pass thereby no more.”

“Baba Yaga’s land, there is no safety.”

So in that regard, I had to knock a star down. Because if this world and the cities/countries were cleaned up a bit, this book would be stellar. I am hoping book two, The Boundless, will really cut these loose strings and sew up some holes in terms of the setting and the story of the Tsarytsdafjfbdsf…you know, the bad place.

I am now already devouring The Boundless in anticipation for it’s release on Tuesday, June 9th. But I am still pretty early into it. So…

Pray for me.

“What fortune was mine.”

4 Stars

 

 

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Additional quotes I loved, because there were just too many.

“I was struck suddenly with the feeling of desperately needing to ask him a question and at the same time not being sure exactly what it was I needed to ask—the feeling that the question didn’t matter, so long as the answer came from him.”

“He is so very handsome, and we are so very, very unwise.”

“‘It’s not what you look like, it’s how you see,’ she used to always say, and she believed someone who didn’t read only ever saw through their own eyes.”

“We were doomed, but I was smiling.”

“‘I just wish you’d told me when it was just the two of us’

‘It never was just the two of us.'”

“No one knows how many years he has, Seneschal-elect. Life is short and death is certain.”

“So every moment I am aboveground and not below it, I want to feel the difference. We’ll all be in our graves soon enough.”

“I will fight, if I have to. But if I have to break another’s body, I deserve at least to feel his suffering in my own arm. I think the powerful would love less the fruits of violence if they had to deal it out by hand.”

 

 

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