eARC Review – The Morning Flower

Title: The Morning Flower (The Omte Origins #2)

Author: Amanda Hocking

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Publication date: August 4th, 2020

352 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Nestled along the bluffs of the forested coast lays the secret kingdom of the Omte—a realm filled with wonder… and as many secrets.

When Ulla Tulin took her internship at the Mimirin, the only mystery she thought she’d have to solve was that of her birth parents. After a girl named Eliana gets kidnapped while in her care, Ulla knows she has to find out the truth of who Eliana really is—and the only way to do that means traveling to the Omte capital, the place she suspects her mother is from.

Ulla didn’t expect that when she arrived she would discover the identity of a Skojare man who crossed paths with her mother—a man who could very well be her father. When the head of the Mimirin learns Ulla’s father is connected to the Älvolk, a secret society who believes they were tasked with protecting the First City and the only ones who know its location, he sends Ulla and Pan to Sweden where they find him living among the Älvolk. But all is not what it seems with the Älvolk and their urgent quest to find the Lost Bridge to the First City leaves Ulla feeling uneasy—and possibly in danger. 

Review

In the thrilling sequel to The Lost City, Amanda Hocking continues Ulla’s journey to finding her parents. This book takes Ulla across the country and world, searching other Trollian cities and areas for clues. Every time she gets close to some information, another wrench is thrown into the mix and turns everything upside down. With her friends Pan and Dagny, Ulla also is searching for Eliana, the young girl she became close to in The Lost City. As the book continues, it seem more and more like the two searches aren’t as separate as they seemed…

I truly enjoyed reading this book more than I expected. Going into this series I definitely thought it would be more high/epic fantasy and it totally isn’t. It’s very modern with some cool references. The plot keeps going, though it seems like it was stretched a smidge to make it into a trilogy instead of a duology. This book was almost more interesting than the first because you experience more of the world with Ulla’s travels. I also LOVE Dagny. She has ace rep, which I love, and she’s so no nonsense that it really balances Ulla out. They are so different but work so well together as characters.

I wanted more romance. Give me more Ulla and Pan. Every time they got close, one of them pulled away and I just kept screaming at them to get together already!! So it’s definitely a more slow burn romance as we’re in book two and it hasn’t really happened yet. There was also a bit of middle book syndrome where most of it is just used to set up for the third book, so there isn’t much action. It’s a lot of data finding and questioning people in order to find everyone Ulla is looking for. But, it sets everything up nicely for The Ever After, the third book in the trilogy – I will definitely be reading this one to see how it all shakes out.

Also, this book is second in the third trilogy in this world. I have not read Amanda Hocking’s other books set in this world, but you don’t really need to. Everything is explained and easily grasped so don’t let that stop you from picking this series up.

Thank you to Wednesday Books and Netgalley for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

BLOG TOUR – With or Without You

Title: With or Without You

Author: Caroline Leavitt

Publisher: Algonquin Books

Publication date: August 4th, 2020

288 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

After almost twenty years together, Stella and Simon are starting to run into problems. An up-and-coming rock musician when they first met, Simon has been clinging to dreams of fame even as the possibility of it has grown dimmer, and now that his band might finally be on the brink again, he wants to go on the road, leaving Stella behind. But when she falls into a coma on the eve of his departure, he has to make a choice between stardom and his wife—and when she wakes a different person, with an incredible artistic talent of her own, the two of them must examine what it is that they really want.
 
Unapologetically honest and intimately written, With or Without You is a contemporary story of what happens to relationships as the people in them change, whether slowly or in one cataclysmic swoop.

Review

Stella and Simon have spent 20 years of their life together, even though they are very different. Stella is an organized nurse, Simon is a rocker whose band never quite hit the big time. She is buttoned up and professional, he is dressed down and casual. They love each other, even though the people in their life don’t exactly understand it. One night during a fight, Simon suggests they take drugs like they did in their younger day, except Stella ends up in a coma for a long time. When Stella wakes up, she and Simon are markedly different people, and now must learn to live together again – even though it seems their roles have reversed.

This story was absolutely fantastic. It’s told from three different perspectives: Stella, Simon, and Libby, one of Stella’s doctors and her friend. Each has a rich history and backstory that is revealed, with inner turmoil and stress. Together they create and odd group, but each needs the other in different ways. I LOVED Libby as a character, and was less invested in Stella after she woke up from the coma. She was so different, but it really shows how one event in your life can really derail and change you at a fundamental level. I thought the artist savant story line of Stella post coma was very intriguing and added depth to her character. The growth in each character, regardless of the end, was fascinating to read.

I read this book all in one night. I was so invested in each character separately, and as a group. I definitely felt there was some hypocrisy in Stella during the event that caused the main conflict, because she basically did the same thing too but never owned up to it. I feel like that thread was just dropped without much thought. I would’ve wanted that to be explored more. And I thought the amount of page time each perspective got was a bit unequal.

If you enjoy contemporary fiction, please read this book. It’s so insightful, and raw, about the experience of life and living with others. It also has theme of change, growth, and really figuring out who you are. The art plot line just adds to it. Absolutely stunning.

Thank you to Algonquin Books for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

August TBR!

So apparently since I read 31 books in July, my brain has decided an ASTRONOMICAL amount of books for a TBR is once again okay for August! Lord help me. So basically I’m planning to read 25 books. Who knows if this will actually happen. Obvs I need to read my Netgalley books, and there are several physical books I really want to read, but Jesus only knows if I can keep my streak going of reading a crap ton of books.

Normally, I ebb and flow with book amounts. When I have one really good month, I burn out for the next month and have a hard time focusing. Technically, this would be a burn out month. But I’m hoping to push through, because there are so many books and so little time!

So see below for the books I hope to get to this month. Let me know if you plan any of the same books!

PHYSICAL BOOKS

  1. A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (The Hunger Games #0.5), Suzanne Collins
  2. Twilight (Twilight #1), Stephenie Meyer
  3. Midnight Sun (Twilight #5), Stephenie Meyer
  4. Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4), Sarah J Maas
  5. Where Dreams Descend (Kingdom of Cards #1), Janella Angeles
  6. Bringing Down the Duke (A League of Extraordinary Women #1), Evie Dunmore
  7. The Boyfriend Project, Farrah Rochon
  8. Capturing the Devil (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1), Kerrie Maniscalco
  9. A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1), Sarah J. Maas
  10. The Ruin of Kings (A Chorus of Dragons #1), Jenn Lyons
  11. The Name of All Things (A Chorus of Dragons #2), Jenn Lyons
  12. Defy Me (Shatter Me #5), Tahereh Mafi
  13. Imagine Me (Shatter Me #6), Tahereh Mafi

NETGALLEY/EDELWEISS/AUTHOR EARCS

  1. I Hope You’re Listening, Tom Ryan
  2. The Vow, Debbie Howells
  3. The Memory of Souls (A Chorus of Dragons #3), Jenn Lyons
  4. A Golden Fury, Samantha Cohoe
  5. Lies Like Poison, Chelsea Pitcher
  6. Impersonation, Heidi Pitlor
  7. Legendborn, Tracy Deonn
  8. The Baby Group, Caroline Corcoran
  9. A House is a Body, Shruti Swamy
  10. The Morning Flower (The Omte Origins #2), Amanda Hocking

AUDIOBOOKS

  1. The Lost City (The Omte Origins #1), Amanda Hocking
  2. The Betrothed (The Betrothed #1), Kiera Cass

Happy reading, folks!

July Wrap Up!

Happy end of July friends!! I somehow failed this month’s TBR while also exceeding all expectations. Let me explain how that happens. I did NOT follow through on the Four Nations Readathon. I got about halfway, and it served it’s purpose of getting me out of my slight reading funk. So I quit halfway because I got into reading books I didn’t really want to be reading, and that just isn’t fun right? Reading should be fun. So my reading continued to blossom AND I went on vacation for the last almost week of the month. Long car ride + COVID closing everything around us = plenty of reading time.

All this to say that whereas I did not follow my TBR, I read a whopping 31 books this month (I pushed the last book today because I liked the symmetry of 31 books for 31 days of the month. This is seriously WAY more than I would ever read in a month, I’m honestly shocked it somehow happened. It didn’t feel like I was reading this much throughout the month, but I keep a draft of this post all month so I can remember my ratings. So when I looked at it a few days ago and really counted, I was amazed. (Also, several are short story/novellas).

I don’t want anyone to see this and think they don’t read enough. As my partner likes to say, I am very extra. The amount you read or don’t read is valid. I will likely never come even close to this number again, and I blame it entirely on COVID and it stealing my social life and needing to destress by way of books. I can’t be anxious about my own life if I’m anxious about character’s lives!

PHYSICAL BOOKS

  1. The Unhoneymooners, Christina Lauren – 5/5 stars (reread)
  2. In the Neighborhood of True, Susan Kaplan Carlton – 4/5 stars
  3. Shatter Me (Shatter Me #1), Tahereh Mafi – 4.5/5 stars
  4. Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3), 4/5 stars
  5. All the Stars and Teeth (All the Stars and Teeth #1), Adalyn Grace
  6. The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1), Suzanne Collins – 5/5 stars
  7. Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2), Suzanne Collins – 4/5 stars
  8. Unravel Me (Shatter Me #2), Tahereh Mafi – 4/5 stars
  9. Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3), Tahereh Mafi – 4/5 stars
  10. Restore Me (Shatter Me #4), Tahereh Mafi – 3.5/5 stars
  11. Hieroglyphics, Jill McCorkle – 4/5 stars (also Netgalley but received physical book from publisher)
  12. With or Without You, Caroline Leavitt – 4/5 stars (also Netgalley but received physical book from publisher)
  13. Head Over Heels, Hannah Orenstein – 4/5 stars
  14. Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3), Suzanne Collins – 4/5 stars

EBOOKS

  1. Not That Kind of Guy, Andie J Christopher – 3/5 stars
  2. The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  3. The Bride Test (The Kiss Quotient #2), Helen Hoang – 4.5/5 stars (reread) (FourNationsReadathon)
  4. The Choice, Nicholas Sparks – 3/5 stars (reread) (FourNationsReadathon)
  5. Take a Hint, Dani Brown (The Brown Sisters #2), Talia Hibbert – 4.5/5 stars
  6. Destroy Me (Shatter Me #1.5), Tahereh Mafi – 4/5 stars
  7. Fracture Me (Shatter Me #2.5), Tahereh Mafi – 3/5 stars

NETGALLEY/EDELWEISS/AUTHOR EARCS

  1. One Hundred Dogs and Counting: One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and A Journey into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues, Cara Sue Achterberg
  2. In A Holidaze, Christina Lauren – 4/5 stars
  3. The First to Lie, Hank Phillippi Ryan – 4/5 stars
  4. Float Plan, Trish Doller – 5/5 stars
  5. The Code for Love and Heartbreak, Jillian Cantor – 3.5/5 stars
  6. In Case You Missed It, Lindsay Kelk – 3.5/5 stars
  7. Sorry Not Sorry, Sophie Ranald – 3.5/5 stars
  8. Recommended For You, Laura Silverman – 4/5 stars
  9. Set Fire to the Gods (Set Fire to the Gods #1), Sara Raash & Kristen Simmons
  10. A Tortured Soul, L.A. Detwiler – 4/5 stars

Look out tomorrow for my August TBR! I am betting high on myself next month, because even if you don’t reach the moon, you’ll fall amongst the stars!

Happy reading, folks!

July Haul!

Hello friends! I am back with another monthly book haul! I was pretty good this month with not acquiring new books, but I preordered so many for the upcoming few months, so look out for those. I’ve been utilizing the library more for ebooks, so I haven’t been purchasing as many. I still get my subscriptions but I also got a few books from publishers!

SUBSCRIPTION BOXES

  1. Goddess in the Machine (Goddess in the Machine #1), Lora Beth Johnson – OwlCrate Special Edition
  2. Head Over Heels, Hannah Orenstein – Book of the Month

AMAZON

This book was a preorder, and I already own the first one and want to read them together.

  1. The Crow Rider (The Storm Crow #1), Kalyn Josephson

PUBLISHERS

Many thanks to Algonquin Books for sending me these books in exchange for an honest review.

  1. Hieroglyphics, Jill McCorkle
  2. With or Without You, Caroline Leavitt (ARC)

What books did you get this month?

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Set Fire to the Gods

Title: Set Fire to the Gods (Set Fire to the Gods #1)

Authors: Sara Raasch & Kristen Simmons

Publisher: Balzer & Bray

Publication date: August 4th, 2020

432 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Ash is descended from a long line of gladiators, and she knows the brutal nature of war firsthand. But after her mother dies in an arena, she vows to avenge her by overthrowing her fire god, whose temper has stripped her country of its resources.

Madoc grew up fighting on the streets to pay his family’s taxes. But he hides a dangerous secret: he doesn’t have the earth god’s powers like his opponents. His elemental gift is something else—something that hasn’t been seen in centuries.

When an attempted revenge plot goes dangerously wrong, Ash inadvertently throws the fire and earth gods into a conflict that can only be settled by deadly, lavish gladiator games. The fights put Madoc in Ash’s path, and she realizes that his powers are the weapon her rebellion needs—but Madoc won’t jeopardize his family, regardless of how intrigued he is by the beautiful warrior.

But when the gods force Madoc’s hand, he and Ash uncover an ancient war that will threaten more than one immortal—it will unravel the world.

Review

tw: death, physical abuse

Ash and Madoc are unlikely allies. Pitted against each other in their god’s war, the goal is to defeat the other. But when it starts to seem like there is more at stake than a war fought over a gladiator battle gone wrong, the two must team up to stop the gods from destroying both their countries. But their loyalty to each other will be tested, and they will be shocked by what each other, and those around them, are really capable of.

Wow okay so I literally just finished reading this book 5 minutes ago and I am still processing it. THAT ENDING. Whereas the first say, 15% of the book is tough to engage with, it really picks up and the action just never ends. With shifting alliances and allegiances there’s no predicting what will happening, ESPECIALLY THAT ENDING. Did I mention the ending??? Holy cow.

This book is pitched as Avator the Last Airbender meets gladiators. Whereas the gladiator part is very evident, the ATLA is less evident. Sure, the characters have elemental abilities, but there was a lot less use of them than I was expecting. I wish there was more use of the powers and abilities through the book, but based on what happens I imagine there will be more in the second book.

Set Fire to the Gods is a unique take on books with gods. Basically, the gods are on “earth” with them and you can interact with them almost on a daily basis. The idea of the gods fighting each other and their original creator is not new, but it didn’t feel overdone or reminiscent of any other series that I can think of. Once the action got going, I truly enjoyed this and could barely put it down.

Thank you to Balzer & Bray and Edelweiss for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Happy reading, folks!

BLOG TOUR – Hieroglyphics

Title: Hieroglyphics

Author: Jill McCorkle

Publisher: Algonquin Books

Publication date: July 28th, 2020

320 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Lil and Frank married young, launched into courtship when they bonded over how they both—suddenly, tragically—lost a parent when they were children. Over time, their marriage grew and strengthened, with each still wishing for so much more understanding of the parents they’d lost prematurely.

Now, after many years in Boston, they have retired in North Carolina. There, Lil, determined to leave a history for their children, sifts through letters and notes and diary entries—perhaps revealing more secrets than Frank wants their children to know. Meanwhile, Frank has become obsessed with what might have been left behind at the house he lived in as a boy on the outskirts of town, where a young single mother, Shelley, is just trying to raise her son with some sense of normalcy. Frank’s repeated visits to Shelley’s house begin to trigger memories of her own family, memories that she’d rather forget. Because, after all, not all parents are ones you wish to remember.

Hieroglyphics reveals the difficulty of ever really knowing the intentions and dreams and secrets of the people who raised you. In her deeply layered and masterful novel, Jill McCorkle deconstructs and reconstructs what it means to be a father or a mother, and what it means to be a child piecing together the world all around us, a child learning to make sense of the hieroglyphics of history and memory.

Review

Hieroglyphics is told from three POVs, Lil, Frank (who are married), and Shelley. The timeline skips around a lot, so sometimes it’s the present and sometimes it’s the past. Lil’s story is told through journal entries, whereas Frank & Shelley’s are told through narration. Shelley lives in Frank’s childhood home, and this is the connecting factor between their stories. It’s a powerful story about their lives, childhood, growing & changing, and hiding from the past.

The ending of this book was fabulous. Some books are meant to have an ending that leaves you to draw your own conclusions, and that’s exactly what Hieroglyphics does. It’s not a true conclusion, but it didn’t leave you hanging. It ended just like life does, abruptly & without warning but with the overall sense that everything will be okay. And that was beautiful.

I had a hard time with the shifting timelines in this book, but if this is something you like & are used to then it shouldn’t stop you from reading this book. The writing, though amazing, rambles at times – but I believe it’s meant to be indicative of the person’s state of mind at the time. It does serve this purpose & give depth to the story but it also made it hard for me to focus on the plot.

At times each story was so heartbreaking and moving that it was even hard to read. It just showed how much people go through in life, and how often people hide from their past. But this book relives the past, celebrates it, because the journey to the end of the magical part even if it doesn’t go as planned. Reading the three characters growth over time was an experience that I’m not used to as Hieroglyphics is out of my normal genre. But at the end, you really see exactly what all the build up was for, and it was worth it.

Thank you to Algonquin Books for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Escaping from Houdini

Title: Escaping from Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1)

Author: Kerri Maniscalco

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson

Publication date: September 18th, 2018

437 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are en route to New York to help solve another blood-soaked mystery. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, they’re delighted to discover a traveling troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly.

But then, privileged young women begin to go missing without explanation, and a series of brutal slayings shocks the entire ship. The disturbing influence of the Moonlight Carnival pervades the decks as the murders grow ever more freakish, with nowhere to escape except the unforgiving sea.

It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the gruesome investigation as even more passengers die before reaching their destination. But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?

Review

“I love you… More than all the stars in the universe. In this life and ever after. I love you.”

kerri maniscalco, escaping from houdini

BEST IN THE SERIES SO FAR. The surprises in this book were so shocking and the drama was top notch! Holy cow I’m still trying to get over this one. The setting was truly spectacular, on a cruise ship with a traveling circus. Our lovebirds, Audrey Rose and Thomas, are back and traveling to America to consult on a case. On the very first night, the young woman next to Audrey Rose is slain in the middle of the circus acts, and just like that we’re off!

A truly amazing part of this series is just how quickly things start happening. Like in each book there is a major, dramatic incident (likely a death) that happens within the first two chapters! It really works to keep the interest up, though you do start to wonder how these two are such a magnet for dead people! The middle of the book kind of dragged. The plot was different and unique, but you knew what was going to keep happening… people were going to keep dying! It just isn’t new in the third book, you know people are going to die.

I really enjoyed this book…. although Audrey Rose is really killing me. Her whole thing with Mephistopheles drove me up a freaking wall. Like, how are you confused about your relationship with Thomas after you basically agreed to be engaged, like a week ago? But now that we’re talking about Mephistopheles, HELLO HI MY NAME IS MOLLY. I feel like Mephistopheles is what the Darkling was trying to be. Don’t come for me, I am not a Darkling stan. But Mephistopheles? He could get it, seriously.

Escaping from Houdini, in my opinion, is the best STJR book yet. Even with AR being insane for a cool 200 pages, it ends amazingly and I’m so stoked to read Capturing the Devil. Also, this is hands down the best cover. I love the theme of all the covers, but the colors and the ship and that DRESS – perfection. It’s truly the best cover.

Feel free to comment if you want to complain more about AR with me!

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Sorry Not Sorry

Title: Sorry Not Sorry

Author: Sophie Ranald

Publisher: Forever (reprint)

Publication date: July 28th, 2020 (originally February 13th, 2020)

384 pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Charlotte has always been a good girl. But after discovering a motivating podcast she suddenly feels restless and sees that being good is getting boring . . .
She’s not just stuck in a rut — she’s buried in it up to her chin. The only company she has in bed is the back catalog of Netflix, and falling in love feels like the stuff of fairy tales. So when she stumbles across the popular podcast Sorry Not Sorry, which challenges women to embrace their inner bad girl, she jumps at the chance to shake things up.
Old Charlotte would never ask for a stranger’s number, go on a blind date or buy lacy lingerie . . . but New Charlotte is waving goodbye to her comfort zone (with a side order of margaritas). And it turns out that good things do happen to bad girls . . .

Review

tw: cheating, stalking

Sorry Not Sorry is a type of prequel story to No, We Can’t Be Friends. It kind of takes place during the same timeline, from different points of view. They really can be read in any order, but I read NWCBF first and then Sorry Not Sorry. Charlotte’s flatmates, Maddy and Henry, are moving out and getting married, so she’s left finding new flatmates. Two new strangers move in, while Charlotte is trying to balance a demanding job and helping to plan Maddy’s wedding. Suddenly, Maddy is mad at her, Charlotte is dating a married man (but Myles says they are separated and sleeping apart), and she’s made friends with her new flatmate Tansy. Charlotte seems to have life figured out, but when her work, personal, and romantic life implode basically at the same time – Charlotte needs to figure out what is most important.

I found this book to be very similar to Sophie’s other books, cute & easy to read. It was nice to get this side of the story from NWCBF, and see what was happening in the background that story. Charlotte as a character was good, she was interesting and well developed. I liked reading about her forays in dating and trying to be a “Bad Girl” as the podcast she listened to was teaching her to be. I got frustrated with her relationship with Maddy, because it seemed like she just let Maddy be mad at her without really trying to get to the bottom of the issues. I feel like that could’ve been resolved quicker if she had.

I would have loved to read more about the penultimate love story, and had more interaction with the guy before the last 10% of the book. Normally you can tell who the main love story will be about, but I had no idea who the guy would be until the end. I just prefer when you get to experience more of the romance and relationship in romance books.

Overall, the plot was good – even if the end climax was a smidge unbelievable. I read this book all in one go, as I usually do with Sophie’s books, which is always a good sign for me. Even better sign, I stayed up until 2am to finish it, because I just needed to know where Charlotte’s story would go.

Thank you to Forever Publishing and Netgalley for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Dark Triumph

“Jewels can be replaced, cousin. Independence, once lost, cannot.”

Title: Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2)

Author: Robin LaFevers

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Publication date: April 2nd, 2013

416 pages

4.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

The convent returns Sybella to a life that nearly drove her mad. Her father’s rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother’s love is equally monstrous. And while Sybella is a weapon of justice wrought by the god of Death himself, He must give her a reason to live. When she discovers an unexpected ally imprisoned in the dungeons, will a daughter of Death find something other than vengeance to live for?

Return to the world of the critically acclaimed His Fair Assassin series in this “romantic fantasy with a vengeance” and sequel to Grave Mercy that takes reader’s deep into the wicked world of corrupt politics, dangerous love, and hard-won vengeance.

Review

“It is a good thing I no longer have a heart, because if I did, it would surely break.”

robin lafevers, dark triumph

TW: incest, sexual assault, murder

So, I was very iffy on Grave Mercy as a book because the MC just wasn’t very interesting to me – but I LOVE Sybella. I adored this book so much more than the first because Sybella’s story was so much more interesting and enthralling. Sybella is sent off to her family’s home in order to spy for the convent, as he father is the horrid man trying to marry the young duchess. It is clear from the start that Sybella had a terrible upbringing, her brother molested her and her father may have as well. Everyone is terrified to be in his father’s court, as he is impulsive and violent. But, Sybella must spy for the good of all Brittany. But, what ends are too far for even her to justify the means?

Ugh I loved this book. I felt so deeply for Sybella. She is a character struggling with her destiny and her past. Her father has her watched by her ladies in waiting, and she is in constant danger of being discovered as one of Mortain’s assassins. She also has to fend off her brother’s “love” at all times. All while following orders and keeping herself motivated. She is such a strong character. And don’t even get me started on her romance with the giant man, who loves her even with her past and even though it connects so painfully to his. *swoon*

The action is really starting to ramp up with this book. I almost felt like the first book suffered more of middle book syndrome than this book did. The action never stopped and I love learning more about Mortain with every book, and how it’s likely the convent has misinterpreted (whether purposefully or accidentally) his meaning and visions. It’s truly an interesting magic system that I’m excited to keep reading about.

The MC from the first book is still in this book, but she was still fairly infuriating. Thankfully, she held a much smaller part because she really gets on my nerves. There were so many times during this book she could have explained to Sybella what she learned in the first book, and helped her escape the grips of the convent – but she chose not to. It drove me absolutely batty.

As a second book goes, this was fantastic and has me enthusiastically looking forward to continuing the trilogy with Mortal Heart.

Happy reading, folks!