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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Binding of Bindings · Book Promo · Wrap-Up

Binding of Bindings #37: 2019 Book Wrap-Up

2019 was a whirlwind,
full of murder, lies and romantic delights.
Some characters acted regal, and some started fights.
There were cults, secret societies, and courts of tricks and schemes,
there were proper young ladies, hushed voices, and bloodcurdling screams.
Some plots were gentle, some plots were vexing,
some plots were filled with rebellion, and some with magic and hexing.
There were retellings of classics and introductions to new tales,
with characters who crushed our souls and threw our lives off the rails.
But with each new book and world read in 2019,
You can bet 2020 will be anything but serene.

 

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~* 2019 Book Wrap-Up *~

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5-stars

the wicked kingThe GiverEnchanteea danger to herself and othersA court of thorns and rosesa court of mist and furyA court of wings and ruinYesterday I Was The MoonAs DirectedGirls with Sharp SticksWhite RoseStars in the Winter SkySmoke and KeyZombie DogThe Life of DeathThrone of GlassCrown of MidnightMy Real Name is HannaThe Best LiesWilder GirlsForsaken WrathThe SUrface Breaks 2The First gIrl ChildThe Lady RogueSerpent and DoveThe Sound of Blue1Songs from the DeepA Violet FireVanished 1Vanished 2

 

 

 

4-5-stars

AlarumThe Unbecoming of Mara DyerTerrible LizardThe Liar's DaughterLove, HeatherI Know You RememberThe Door to JanuaryGood Girls Lie

 

 

4-stars

the cruel princeThe Cold is in Her BonesThe Trutch ABout AliceThe Evolution of Mara DyerThe Retribution of Mara DyerThe Hauntedperf5.000x8.000.inddThe Ten Thousand Doors of januaryThings we know by heartThe Lady RavenThe Cemetery BoysThe Lies They TellMissing you

 

 

3-5-stars

Evenfall

 

 

3-stars

BloodleafKilling NovemberStolenThe Last to Die

 

 

2-5-stars

Immortal GirlsDream Keeperwe set the dark on fireExit

 

2-stars

Alice WanderlandDrowning

 

UNRATED/DNF

The UnrepentantThe Memory ThiefDamsel

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As Always, Stay Witchy

 

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Binding of Bindings · Book Promo · Books · Netgalley · New Releases · Reviews · Wrap-Up

Binding of Bindings #31: September Book Wrap-up

 

I may be seventeen days late with this Wrapup
but can you really blame me?
We haven’t entered just any old month!
It’s THE month!!

So to celebrate me being so happy, busy and overjoyed with OCTOBER and all it’s Gothy and Witchy beauty…
here’s what I did in September!

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~* September Book Wrap-Up *~

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1. The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett

The Lady Rogue

I was sweetly gifted The Lady Rogue by Simon Pulse in exchange for an honest review, and OH MY WORD was this good!

It is a YA Adventure/Mystery about a young woman who begins a hunt around the world to find her missing father, who works as a treasure hunter. Usually left behind in lavish hotels and forced to sit out the expeditions, Theodora is called upon by Huxley Gallagher, her fathers’ protege and her once upon a time almost boyfriend.

Together the two find that her father was on the hunt for Vlad the Impaler’s long lost ring, or better known to the world, Dracula’s ring.

This was a KILLER (pun intended) way to start September! This book reminded me of a Lara Croft meets Pitfall meet National Treasure YA tale, and it did not disappoint! There is murder, turmoil, suspense, a little horror, magic, romance and a ton of interesting history!

5-stars

(See my review here)

 

2. Serpent & Dove (Book 1) by Shelby Mahurin

Serpent and Dove

THIS is my favorite book of the month, but also, maybe one of my favorites of the year!

Serpent & Dove is everything, everything, EVERYTHING my Witchy heart has been needing and wanting in a YA Fantasy!

The magic, the immense killing, the turmoil between two sides who don’t understand each other but are more similar than they realize.

And of course, THIS ROMANCE!

The story is all about Witches vs Church. Our main character is forced into marrying a Witch Hunter, even though he is unaware that she is actually a Witch and is VERY good at gutting people.

A Witch marrying a Witch Hunter.

Romance.

5-stars

(See my review here)

 

3. The Liar’s Daughter by Megan Cooley Peterson

The Liar's Daughter

Guys.

You KNOW I love a cult!

So when I saw this I screamed, pressed request in a panicked excitement, and got to reading IMMEDIATELY.

And let me tell you, it did NOT disappoint!

Piper has one dream: to make her Father proud and to finally be initiated into the community as an adult. She has spent her entire life breathing in his teachings and doing anything in her power to make him proud. The outside world is toxic, and they are humanities only chance at survival. She knows the government seeks to control its people with pharmaceutical drugs and lies, pumping bodies full of toxins in order to keep them spending money. But Piper knows the truth.

The Community is Truth.

The Community is Loyalty.

The Community will keep you safe.

My ONLY grudge with The Liar’s Daughter is that the book description gives away the entire story! I wanted this to be shrouded in mystery, because it is written in a way where the reader follows Piper through this state on confusion and uncertainty as she tries to understand her upbringing and new life. So that said, please just buy this book and don’t read the synopsis on the back of the book!!!

Just TRUST me!

4-5-stars

(Maybe don’t even look at my review, here)

 

4. The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

The Ten Thousand Doors of january

This book is SO beautiful!

To be honest, it did take a little time for me to get into it and stay focused. The writing is fantastic, the characters are SO well developed, and it is positively brimming with adventure and imagination!

It takes a few chapters for things to start picking up, but it is so worth it!

The Ten Thousand Doors of January is about a young woman’s discovery and journey into doors that lead to other worlds. Her father travels the world in search of valuable artifacts for her guardian, Mr. Locke, and has been left to her own devices since she was a little girl. But when she comes across a curious book ranting of doors to worlds of snow, Amazonians and oceans, and a heartbreaking story of love, January begins to wonder if this book is more than just a tall tale.

4-stars

(See my review here)

 

5. Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

Exit

I had Exit sitting on my bookshelf and collecting dust for some time now, so I figured it was about time I dove into it.

After falling in love with The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith, so many readers recommended this as the next book that will shatter my soul.

And I was READY!

Unfortunately…

It was just meh.

Exit, Pursued by a Bear is about a teenage girl who is raped at cheer camp, and what happens afterwards. I really liked that it gave a different view on how someone may react to such a traumatic experience. A lot of times we see characters go into downward spirals and/or deep depressions, but Hermione does the opposite. She stays focused and strong and has a positive attitude about moving forward.

But that aside, I wasn’t really impressed with the book. I think it is a good introductory story about rape for a younger YA audience, but it just didn’t bring the emotional sorrow and hemorrhaging I was hoping for.

2-5-stars

(See my review here)

 

6. Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby

Things we know by heart.jpg

Myself and my two sisters from other misters, mistresses and countries have decided to start a Sisterhood of the Traveling Book adventure together!

Since we all live in different countries (USA, UK, Sweden) we thought it would be so fun to each pick a book, send it to each other to read, maim it to all hell with notes and underlines of sentences/moments that resonate with us, and then send it back – with custom library cards and everything!!

Damn adorable, right?!

SO I had the pleasure of starting off this magical experience, and I chose Things We Know by Heart.

I don’t know if you’re catching on to the theme here, but my world centers around YA Fantasy and Contemporary that severely wounds my soul and makes me want to throw myself into a cauldron.

I want to FEEL, okay?!

Things we Know by Heart introduces us to Quinn a year after her boyfriend Trent dies in an accident. As a donor, vital organs and parts of Trent were given to recipients who were in need. Heartbroken and devastated, Quinn and Trent’s family began meeting with the recipients of Trent’s donations in an attempt to heal.  But the recipient of Trent’s heart gave no response to their request to meet, so Quinn tracks him down.

This is SUCH a cute story, and was a great way to start off out NAGC Library book sending. Though it didn’t have those “rip my heart out and make me beg for it back” vibes, I still found myself smitten with the story.

4-stars

 

7. The Memory Thief by Lauren Mansy

The Memory Thief.jpg

Okay…

So I DNF‘d this little minx at 38%, and I am quite honestly questioning if I made the right call.

The Memory Thief is a YA Fantasy world where memories are like gold. They are traded, stolen and auctioned off to the highest bidder and people are killed in the streets over them. Etta is one of the gifted individuals who can take memories just by touching someone, but she is hiding in plain sight in order to protect herself and her mother.

TOTALLY something I would love, right?!

The author tried shoving SO much information at the reader way too quickly, while going into confusing flashbacks, and it is just made my head hurt. There was about 10 names mentioned in the first chapter, which makes it hard to follow who is who since I have no idea…who those people are.

I had super high hopes for this one, because the premise is phenomenal. But the excessive information, and lengthy dialogue, and the eye-roll worthy insta-love was WAY too much for me to deal with.

…I take it back.

 

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Stay Witchy

 

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · New Releases · Reviews · Simon and Schuster

Book Review: The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett

The Lady Rogue

 

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Simon & Schuster – Simon Pulse, for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Historical Fiction

Plot: Some legends never die…

Traveling with her treasure-hunting father has always been a dream for Theodora. She’s read every book in his library, has an impressive knowledge of the world’s most sought-after relics, and has all the ambition in the world. What she doesn’t have is her father’s permission. That honor goes to her father’s nineteen-year-old protégé—and once-upon-a-time love of Theodora’s life—Huck Gallagher, while Theodora is left to sit alone in her hotel in Istanbul.

Until Huck arrives from an expedition without her father and enlists Theodora’s help in rescuing him. Armed with her father’s travel journal, the reluctant duo learns that her father had been digging up information on a legendary and magical ring that once belonged to Vlad the Impaler—more widely known as Dracula—and that it just might be the key to finding him.

Journeying into Romania, Theodora and Huck embark on a captivating adventure through Gothic villages and dark castles in the misty Carpathian Mountains to recover the notorious ring. But they aren’t the only ones who are searching for it. A secretive and dangerous occult society with a powerful link to Vlad the Impaler himself is hunting for it, too. And they will go to any lengths—including murder—to possess it.

Opinion:

A historical adventure fantasy about treasure hunters searching for a lost ring, that belonged to Vlad the Impaler.

a.k.a.

Count Dracula

a.k.a.

Mass murderer of THOUSANDS

a.k.a.

Romania’s crowned jewel and the world’s nightmare.

Oh, you KNOW it’s going to be good.

Theodora Fox is used to her father abandoning her in five star hotels around the world, while he slinks off to uncover hidden treasures and unearth rich history. So when he disappears again, leaving her in yet another ritzy establishment in Istanbul, she is forced to stay behind with only her crossword puzzles and obsession for history to keep her company. That is until Huxley Gallagher turns up in her hotel room, handing over her father’s journal and claiming that he is missing. What Theodora assumed was a typical expedition, turns swiftly into a hunt for her father and the truth behind his current hunt – to find the long lost ring of Vlad the Impaler for a wealthy client. Nobody said this adventure would be easy, especially when traveling with the boy who broke her heart and never spoke to her again. But what Theodora is about to uncover will change her and her family’s life forever.

The Lady Rogue is dripping in adventure, mystery, intrigue, wit and a TON of history! The author has artistically woven historical events with fantastical elements to bring a legendary story fit for any thrill seeker. Perfect for fans of Tomb Raider, National Treasure, Count Dracula, the Occult, dragons, fantasy…and, really everything.

This book is PHENOMENAL.

Set in the late 1930’s, this historical fantasy takes main characters Theodora and Huck to Romania in search of Theo’s missing father who is chasing after a much sought-after ring. The only clues of his whereabouts come from Huck, her father’s protege and a young man that her father took in at a young age. At an excavation in Hungary, Huck and Theo’s father, Fox, uncover a metal box with strange symbols encasing it that warned of the dangers kept inside. What they hoped was the resting place of Vlad’s long lost ring, turned out to be an empty box. Dismayed, they travel back to their hotel, where Fox suddenly disappears, leaving behind strict instructions for Huck to find Theo in Istanbul, where he is to give her Fox’s travel journal, and escape to Hudson Valley.

And so begins the WILD adventure that Theo and Huck embark on in search of Fox and Vlad’s infamous ring. While the two travel to Romania, Fox’s last known whereabouts, they are chased by dangerous men hellbent on taking them out.

And I don’t mean for dinner and a movie.

I’m talking murder, ladies and gents.

Because this book is PACKED with action! These characters are CONSTANTLY tiptoeing the lines of death and swing-dancing with fate. Both Theo and Huck are talented treasure hunters with extensive experience and passion for what they were raised around, and it shows. Theo is obsessed with history and any ancient topic that might involve a haunting or some form of magical element. She is proficient in multiple languages, has an uncanny ability to decipher codes, and above all else…this girl is witty as hell! Her sharp comments and sarcastic remarks had me nodding my approval during my entire read. She’s a saucy little minx who curses, throws obscene gestures in the air and has an epic drunken outburst where she dubs herself Lady Rogue – a lady of independent and royal standing!

Huck is also quite sarcastic and playful, but has a different set of skills and hates anything to do with spirits and magic. He is a pilot, a great lock-picker, and oh yeah…Theo’s ex. Once inseparable best friends as children and teens who began to have feelings for each other, now we meet them at a time when they haven’t spoken in over a year – due to events that later become revealed. This is the obvious romance of the story, but DON’T WORRY. This isn’t one of those books that has a killer premise and then becomes overshadowed by mushy teen love.

This book focuses SOLELY on the premise, and you will be so incredibly thankful for it. Because it is spectacular, exciting and downright addicting. The author did an outstanding job implementing actual historical events and facts into the story, which in turn lead me to researching different historical figures so I could learn more about them. There are countless elements that make up this gripping tale, and there is a little something in there for every type of reader. But I think what really struck me while reading, was Jenn Bennet’s uncanny ability to create a flawless book. It is detailed, well-constructed, comical, suspenseful and a TON of fun!

The book ends with everything wrapped up nice and tight, no cliffhangers in sight. BUT I am curious if Jenn plans on writing a sequel, because how everything is left, she definitely set it up to be a possibility. If so, you know I am going to be at the front of that line demanding a copy!

With that said, I’ll leave on this note:

5-stars

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Binding of Bindings · Book Promo · Books · JKS Communications · New Releases · Reviews · Wrap-Up

Binding of Bindings #28: August Book Wrap-up

Look August
It was fun and all.
We had some good times, some bad times.
But, like, I just can’t anymore.

 

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~* August Book Wrap-Up *~

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1. Terrible Lizard: A Memoir of My Time in the Police Dinosaur Unit by Doug Goodman

Terrible Lizard

Terrible Lizard is an Urban Fantasy that tells the tale of former law enforcement officer, Oak Jones, who spent 7 years in the Police Dinosaur Unit. This fantastic book is a collection of memories and action-packed moments that Oak experienced alongside his partner Banshee, a velociraptor with a tumultuous past.

I have read a lot of books by Doug Goodman, and each time I am more and more impressed with his attention to detail and superb storytelling. This book is suitable for ALL ages, so feel free to read it on your own or with your little dino-loving munchkins.

4-5-stars

(Click here to see my review)

 

2. Forsaken Wrath (The Scorpio Files, Book 1) by Alexander Ferrick

Forsaken Wrath

Forsaken Wrath is the first book in the adventure short story series called The Scorpio Files. It centers on the tales of fortune hunters Nick Reed, known as Scorpio, and Bartimaeus as they embark on an adventure around the world that will lead them to treasures and deep history.

If you were a big fan of National Treasure, The Da Vinci Code or even Pitfall (a game that was released on Atari, but revamped for Wii) then you will absolutely love this book. The writing is excellent, and it kept my attention for its entire 70 pages!

I’m honestly hoping these turn into full-length books, because I NEED!

5-stars

(Click here to see my review)

 

3. The Surface Breaks by Luoise O’Neill

The SUrface Breaks 2

Guys!

THIS one.

My poor heart, is still breaking in two and filling over the brim from the sadness and strength I got from this book!

The Surface Breaks is a feminist re-imagining of The Little Mermaid, and it is EVERYTHING that you, your mother, your sister, brother, father, daughter and son need!

The amount of quotes I inserted in my review for this book was…slightly embarrassing, and honestly, I could have just written a review in quotes. Because I highlighted that many, and it was that good.

This rendition is dark, gritty, and gets real AF. This isn’t a fluffy twist on mermaids and young love. It hits you where it hurts, yanks those heartstrings, and makes you rethink how much of yourself you are willing the shred apart in the name of love.

If you do anything after reading this post, buy this book.

5-stars

(Click here to see my review)

 

4. The First Girl Child by Amy Harmon

The First gIrl Child.jpg

Okay, my review for this isn’t up yet.

So I’ll be brief.

THIS is a newly released Adult Fantasy about a kingdom that becomes cursed to no longer bear daughters, after a chieftain denies his unborn child.

The First Girl Child tells the story of Bayr of Saylok, a bastard son of a cruel chieftain and the woman who cursed the Kingdom, and a daughter named Alba that was born 7 years after the curse went into effect. Bayr is blessed with in-human strength, and has been tasked with protecting Alba and acting as her guardian.

This book was NOT what I was expecting, but I’m not mad about it at all! THIS WAS SO GOOD! The writing, the story-building, the characters, descriptions, EVERYTHING was perfection!

I will have my review posted this weekend or early next week, so look out for it!

 

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So honestly, yea, my August was a little slow. I have been in a distracted slump and finding it hard to read, but I’m back on it.

I have 100 books to read this year, and I am NOT very far, so I have to get it into gear like…yesterday!

Stay Witchy, my loves!

 

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