Archive by Author | Meredith

Review: Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller (Blog Tour)

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller (Blog Tour)Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller
Published by Feiwel & Friends on February 26, 2019
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

How do you kill a god?

As her father's chosen heir, eighteen-year-old Rasmira has trained her whole life to become a warrior and lead her village. But when her coming-of-age trial is sabotaged and she fails the test, her father banishes her to the monster-filled wilderness with an impossible quest: to win back her honour, she must kill the oppressive god who claims tribute from the villages each year or die trying.

Hey, everyone! I’m SO excited to be on the blog tour for Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller (February 26, 2019 – Feiwel & Friends)! Without further adieu, here’s my review!


Tricia Levenseller went on my Auto Buy List after I read and LOVED both Daughter of the Pirate King and Daughter of the Siren Queen. Warrior of the Wild did NOT disappoint. It was a fun, epic adventure with amazing characters and an intriguing world.

Rasmira was strong, brave and stubborn. Being sent into the Wild was the best thing that could have happened to her. It was meant as a punishment, but she learned so much about herself, the people she thought she knew and loved, and the world around her. Her character growth from beginning to end was INCREDIBLE.

I 1000% adored Soren and Iric – both as individuals and as friends. I don’t want to say too much, but I loved how their story ended. I loved Iric’s growth, especially. He went from being gruff and sarcastic to cheeky and hilarious. I absolutely adored him and Aros! I also loved the way Soren and Iric fought like bickering old ladies. It reminded me of Angel and Spike (from Buffy the Vampire Slayer), as well as Jeb and Morpheus (from Splintered by A.G. Howard).

I truly loved the dynamic between Rasmira, Soren and Iric. It’s a little bit hard to talk about that dynamic without spoilers, but oh man, I just absolutely adored them together.

Now let’s talk about the villain… Peruxolo didn’t scare me. From very early on, I had major suspicions and questions. And I WAS RIGHT!!!! *Clears throat.* That’s all I’ll say about that… But really, I don’t think he was the true villain of the story.. If you’ve read it, you guys KNOW who the true villain was. Well, not so much a “villain” as a back-stabbing asshole. But I can’t name names without spoiling a major plot twist, so I’ll just sit here and stew about it while you guys GO AND READ IT AND SEE WHAT I MEAN!

I know some people are tired of new releases being compared to big books like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Divergent, Twilight, etc. But I SERIOUSLY had major Hunger Games feels throughout this entire book, with a few stand-out moments. One of the biggest moments? Irrenia asking Rasmira, “You will try, won’t you? … To complete your quest … You have to come home to me.” This moment STRONGLY reminded me of Prim begging Katniss to win and come home to her. Another thing that gave me major THG vibes? The Ziken. They reminded me of the creatures at the end of THG. And Rasmira worrying they would attack her while trying to fall asleep in the woods reminded me of Katniss worrying about falling asleep in the woods, wary of the fact that there were Tributes hunting her.

Overall, I absolutely 100% adored this book. I’m VERY excited to see what Tricia Levenseller does next! Her characters are incredible, her worlds are lush and imaginative, and her plot twists are EPIC. This book had me laughing out loud, gasping in shock, and grinning like an absolute idiot. It’ll run you through an emotional rollercoaster, and you’ll love every minute of it!

I HIGHLY recommend this book to those who enjoyed Daughter of the Pirate King and Daughter of the Siren Queen. Also, to those who enjoyed The Hunger Games. Because seriously, SO many THG vibes!!


Blog Tour: Tarot by Marissa Kennerson (Playlist)

Hey guys! I’m so excited to be on the blog tour for Tarot by Marissa Kennerson (February 19, 2019 – Razorbill)! I’ve been SUPER excited for this book ever since I first heard about it – it has everything I love in a book: magic, intrigue, a unique world, and epic characters. When I realized there was going to be a blog tour, I jumped at the chance to be a part of it!

So, for my blog tour stop, I’m sharing my Playlist with you. Mad props to all the authors who do these for their books because I’ve never done a playlist for a book before and this was HARD. I just hope I did the book justice with my song selections…

Before I share my playlist with you guys, take a look at the cover and synopsis for the book:

Her fate is so much more than the cards she was dealt.

Born of a forbidden union between the Queen and the tyrannical King’s archnemesis, Anna is forced to live out her days isolated in the Tower, with only her mentors and friends the Hermit, the Fool, and the Magician to keep her company. To pass the time, Anna imagines unique worlds populated by creatives and dreamers–the exact opposite of the King’s land of fixed fates and rigid rules–and weaves them into four glorious tapestries.

But on the eve of her sixteenth birthday and her promised release from the Tower, Anna discovers her true lineage: She’s the daughter of Marco, a powerful magician, and the King is worried that his magical gifts are starting to surface in Anna. Fearing for her life, Anna flees the Tower and finds herself in Cups, a lush, tropical land full of all the adventure, free-spiritedness, and creativity she imagined while weaving.

Anna thinks she’s found paradise in this world of beachside parties, endless food and drink, and exhilarating romance. But when the fabric of Cups begins to unravel, Anna discovers that her tapestries are more than just forbidden expression. They’re the foundation for a new world that she is destined to create–as long as the terrors from the old world don’t catch up with her first.

Goodreads | Amazon

The Book Depository | IndieBound


And now for my Playlist (Please note: These are in no particular order)!!

Bell, Book and Candle by Eddi Reader. This song came to me for no other reason but that it was used in Charmed (the original 1998 version), which is about witches and magic. Also, I’m not sure what genre it is officially, but when I listen to it, I think of folk music and Celtic music, which makes me think of witches and magic.


When Will My Life Begin by Mandy Moore. This came to mind when I was on page 26 of the US ARC. Anna being stuck in the tower made me think of Rapunzel. I just kept picturing Anna throughout the years, stuck in the tower with very little to do, and imagined her asking the same questions Rapunzel does in the song: When will my life begin? What’s it really like outside this tower? Will I ever get out of this tower and truly live?


Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield. This song came to me before I even started reading, but then page 6 of the US ARC really made me think about it. In Tarot, Anna’s father – the king – says, “Fates are a fixed thing, destiny preordained.” But Anna doesn’t believe that – she feels people should be able to have more autonomy; that they should be able to decide things for themselves. This song’s message aligns with that. It’s basically saying, only you can live your life. Your life is a blank book and only you can decide what happens and how it ends.


Wildflowers by Tom Petty. At the beginning of Tarot, a line from this song is quoted: “You belong among the wildflowers.” In the song, the line goes on to say, “You belong somewhere you feel free.” So, I included this song on the playlist for two reasons:

1) It’s quoted in the book, so the author must feel it’s relevant
2) It really does fit the theme of the book, of wanting to be free (as Anna wants to be free of the tower and her father’s control).


Journey to the Past from the animated movie Anastasia. This song came to me after Anna escaped the tower. She’s on a journey to discover who she is and to live her life – which is exactly what this song is about; finding yourself, finding your family, your future, your home, etc. Most importantly, it’s about discovering your past so you can find the path to your future. Because if we don’t understand where we come from, how will we know where to go next on our journey in life?


That’s it for my playlist! Like I said at the beginning of this post, I’ve never done a playlist for a book before, and I truly hope this list does the book justice!

Now tell me, have you read Tarot? Which of the above songs would you add to your playlist? Are there any songs NOT on my playlist that you think fit this book? Share them in the comments!


About the Author:
Marissa Kennerson received her B.A. in English literature from the University of California, Berkeley. Before earning her master’s degree in psychology and art therapy, she worked for Wired and Glamour. She’s the author of the YA cult-suspense novel, The Family, which she did not write from personal experience, since the only cult she’s ever been in is the cult of YouTube makeup tutorials. She lives in California with her husband and son.
Visit her at or follow her on Twitter.

Review: Song of the Dead by Sarah Glenn Marsh

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Song of the Dead by Sarah Glenn MarshSong of the Dead by Sarah Glenn Marsh
Series: Reign of the Fallen #2
Published by Razorbill on January 22, 2019
Pages: 416
Format: ARC
Source: the author
Buy on Amazon

The Dead must stay buried.

Karthia is nothing like it used to be. The kingdom's borders are open for the first time in nearly three hundred years, and raising the dead has been outlawed. Odessa is determined to explore the world beyond Karthia's waters, hoping to heal a heart broken in more ways than she can count. But with Meredy joining the ocean voyage, vanquishing her sorrow will be a difficult task.

Despite the daily reminder of the history they share, Odessa and Meredy are fascinated when their journey takes them to a land where the Dead rule the night and dragons roam the streets. Odessa can't help being mesmerized by the new magic--and by the girl at her side. But just as she and Meredy are beginning to explore the new world, a terrifying development in Karthia summons them home at once.

Growing political unrest on top of threats from foreign invaders means Odessa and Meredy are thrust back into the lives they tried to leave behind while specters from their past haunt their tenuous relationship. Gathering a force big enough to ward off enemies seems impossible, until one of Queen Valoria's mages creates a weapon that could make them invincible. As danger continues to mount inside the palace, Odessa fears that without the Dead, even the greatest invention won't be enough to save their fates.

In this enthralling, heartrending sequel to Reign of the Fallen, Odessa faces the fight of her life as the boundaries between the Dead and the living are challenged in a way more gruesome than ever before.

This book – this series – was so absolutely amazing, I don’t even know how to put it into words. I’m both immensely satisfied with the way it ended (the book and, consequently, the duology as a whole), yet also heartbroken because I’m not ready to leave this world or these characters. I miss Sparrow, Meredy, Simeon, Danial, Valoria and everyone so much, you’d think they were real people and not characters in a book. I want to be back in Karthia with them. I want to see what lies ahead in their adventures. I don’t want to let them go. I never will. I connected so hard and in so many ways with both Reign of the Fallen and Song of the Dead that I’m not even ready to discuss all the reasons why. It was just That Book for me (or Those Books? Since it was both. I’m not sure of the grammar here..).

Sparrow was an incredible, incredible character. She was more than just a character. She felt so real and I loved everything about her. She kicked butt and took names. I loved her journey and growth from book one to book two, and throughout book two.

Meredy was, by far, my favorite character. She was strong and fierce, yet had some very emotional, vulnerable moments in this book. I loved seeing that side of her.

Danial and Simeon were just… Omg. I don’t even have words.

Another character I really loved was Kasmira. I kept picturing her as an older Uma (China Anne McClain) from the Descendants 2 movie.

ALL MY SHIPS SAILED AND I COULDN’T BE HAPPIER!!!!!!!!!!! Like, there were some ups and downs with my two favorite ships (I won’t name them right now because spoilers, but those of you who have read the book will know who I mean), but they made it through in the end and my heart is so happy beyond belief, it’s bursting with feels!!!

NIPPER!!!! Omg I adored Nipper. I don’t want to spoil who/what Nipper is, but OMG I WANT HER!!! Haha.

TBH, I enjoyed Song of the Dead so much that I was awful about taking review notes for it… Which made writing this review really difficult (as I’m sure you can tell… Eeek…), but I was just so immersed in the story, I didn’t want to stop and take the time to write anything down – I just wanted to relax and enjoy the story, not pull myself out of it every time I had a thought I wanted to write down. So this review honestly doesn’t even do the book justice. All I can say is READ IT. It was SO good. Sarah Glenn Marsh is DEFINITELY going on my Auto Buy List.

So, overall (if you couldn’t tell, which.. if you couldn’t…????), I LOVED this book. ADORED IT. Can’t put it into words, can’t say it enough. Just go read it as soon as possible. Seriously. Go. Now..!!


Spotlight Post: The Revenge of Magic by James Riley

Hey everyone! The Revenge of Magic by James Riley releases on March 5, 2019 from Aladdin! Have you checked it out/pre-ordered it yet???

“This imaginative and exciting story feels like the start of something big. The brilliant premise unfolds into a thrilling first book that has me impatient for the next one.” —Brandon Mull, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Fablehaven and Dragonwatch


When long-dead magical creatures are discovered all around the world, each buried with a book of magic, only children can unlock the dangerous power of the books in this start to a thrilling new series from the author of the New York Times bestselling Story Thieves!

Thirteen years ago, books of magic were discovered in various sites around the world alongside the bones of dragons. Only those born after “Discovery Day” have the power to use the magic.

Now, on a vacation to Washington, DC, Fort Fitzgerald’s father is lost when a giant creature bursts through the earth, attacking the city. Fort is devastated, until an opportunity for justice arrives six months later, when a man named Dr. Opps invites Fort to a government run school, the Oppenheimer School, to learn magic from those same books.

But life’s no easier at the school, where secrets abound. What does Jia, Fort’s tutor, know about the attacks? Why does Rachel, master of destructive magic, think Fort is out to destroy the school? And why is Fort seeing memories of an expelled girl every time he goes to sleep? If Fort doesn’t find out what’s hiding within the Oppenheimer School, more attacks will come, and this time, nothing will stop them!

Goodreads | Amazon

The Book Depository | IndieBound

Review: Parkland Speaks: Survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas Share Their Stories by Sarah Lerner (Editor) – (Blog Tour)

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Parkland Speaks: Survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas Share Their Stories by Sarah Lerner (Editor) – (Blog Tour)Parkland Speaks: Survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas Share Their Stories by Sarah Lerner
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers on January 22, 2019
Pages: 192
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

Featuring art and writing from the students of the Parkland tragedy, this is a raw look at the events of February 14, and a poignant representation of grief, healing, and hope.

The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School share their emotional journeys that began on February 14, 2018, and continue today. This revealing and unfiltered look at teens living in the wake of tragedy is a poignant representation of grief, anger, determination, healing, and hope.

The intimate collection includes poetry, eyewitness accounts, letters, speeches, journal entries, drawings, and photographs from the events of February 14 and its aftermath. Full of heartbreaking loss, a rally cry for change, and hope for a safe future, these artistic pieces will inspire readers to reflect on their own lives and the importance of valuing and protecting the ones you love.

TRIGGER WARNING: This book is about a school shooting, and everything that entails – guns, death, PTSD, anciety, depression, etc. Please be cautious in reading this review if those things are a trigger for you.


I’m not going to use my usual “Hey, everyone! I’m SO excited to be on the blog tour for….” intro for this post, because I can’t say I’m excited to be on a blog tour for a book about a school shooting. I don’t know if “humbled” is the right word, either. Honestly, I don’t know what word to use. But the minute I received the email asking if I’d like to participate, I knew I had to say yes. It’s too important a topic to say no to.

School shootings – mass shootings in general – are becoming far too commonplace. We as a nation are growing numb to them. We CAN’T grow numb. We have to stand up and demand stricter gun laws, among other things. The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School refuse to be silent, and we should do as they do.

As for the book itself… Parkland Speaks is a gut-wrenching read. Children should never have to fear for their lives while trying to receive an education. Parents should never have to fear that they’ll never see their children again after sending them off to school in the morning. For the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, everything changed on February 14, 2018. Seventeen families lost loved ones, and those who survived the ordeal lost friends – and their innocence.

This book contains poems, stories, diary entries, essays and more – both from students and from faculty who were there that day. Some of the poems are students reflecting in the aftermath of the shooting; others are stories of those who were in the freshman building during the shooting.

The most chilling passage, in my opinion, was one entitled “Nothing Bad Ever Happens in Parkland.” It was a testimony before congress by Stacey Lippel, language arts instructor at MSD. She was right in the thick of the shooting. She saw the shooter. A bullet grazed her arm. Yet she risked her life to save others. She saved many lives by ushering students into her classroom.

One truly heartwarming part of this book? All the stories about the therapy dogs, and how they comforted the traumatized students.

I HIGHLY recommend this book to EVERYONE. It’s a really hard book to get through, but it has a powerful message. Like I said earlier, we as a nation are growing numb to mass shootings, and we can’t let that happen. This book should be required reading for all politicians – for everyone, really, but especially politicians. These stories are heartbreaking and gut-wrenching and IMPORTANT. The lesson learned from reading this book is obvious: we must stand strong against gun violence and demand stronger gun safety laws.


I hate feeling like I have to say this, but if you don’t agree with my stance on gun safety, please don’t comment on this post. Don’t argue with me. Don’t try to start something, because I’ll just delete your comment and block you. Polite discussion is encouraged, but if you’re looking to pick a fight, you’re in the wrong place.


Memorable Quotes:

Please Note: Some of these quotes are snippets of longer passages. The Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) I read did not have page numbers, so I can’t include them here. Instead, I will include the title of the passage the quote comes from.

“Watching my students find their voices after someone tried to silence them…” – ReWrite

“Tears begin to stroke my eyes when I realize one of my messages will remain unread forever.” – Inside a Fearful Mind

“The text read ‘I just want you to know I love you all and don’t worry, I will be okay.’” – Third Floor

“Rose petals and blood covered the floor.” – Third Floor

“That’s when I realized… I left them in that building.” – 2/14/18: The Day My Whole Life Changed

“I didn’t know who the teacher was… I remember her saying something along the lines of ‘I want you to know that if anyone comes through that door, they will have to go through me.’” – Journal Entry #1

“Remember me when I’m gone.” – Immortal Dreams

“Together we will all stand strong.” – Political Puppets


Guest Review: Imprison the Sky by A.C. Gaughen

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Guest Review: Imprison the Sky by A.C. GaughenImprison the Sky by A.C. Gaughen
Series: The Elementae #2
Published by Bloomsbury YA on January 22, 2019
Pages: 416
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

Stolen from her family as a child, Aspasia has clawed her way up the ranks of Cyrus's black market empire to captain her own trading vessel--and she risks it all every time she uses her powerful magic to free as many women, children, and Elementae from slavery as she can.

But Cyrus is close to uncovering her secrets--not only that Aspasia is an air Elementa with the ability to sail her ship through the sky, but that she is also searching for her lost family. And if Aspasia can’t find her younger siblings before Cyrus does, she will never be able to break free.

Armed with her loyal crew full of Elementae and a new recruit who controls an intriguing power, Aspasia finds herself in the center of a brewing war that spans every inch of the ocean, and her power alone may not be enough to save her friends, family, and freedom.

A message from Meredith: Hey everyone! Today, I have Lissa here with a guest review for Imprison the Sky by A.C. Gaughen!

You can find Lissa on Instagram!

Without further adieu, here’s Lissa’s review! Enjoy!


I didn’t have time to re-read Reign the Earth before I read Imprison the Sky, and having just finished, I am a bit indecisive as to whether that is a good thing or a bad thing. Maybe both. It seemed problematic when I started Imprison the Sky because I felt like I remembered nothing and had no idea who anyone was. Then as I got into the story (it sucked me in completely, regardless!) I remembered bits from Reign the Earth and realized I would have mostly been clueless anyway. Which is when I switched my opinion on the re-read issue.

If I had re-read, I would have been clamoring for a direct continuation of Shalia’s story. And this was not that – it read almost as a companion novel rather than a sequel. For all I know, since I still haven’t read the blurb (I didn’t need to, I knew I wanted to read this book even without the blurb), maybe that is what it is supposed to be. It did, however, forward the overall story arc in the end.

Anyway, wanting/missing Shalia and Galen would have been a disservice to this wonderful, enthralling, couldn’t-put-down adventure. I have a thing for spunky seafaring heroines (like Sherwood Smith and Alex Lidell write) and this was just perfect – complimented by A.C. Gaughen’s characteristic grit (Oh, how her heroes/heroines suffer!).

So here I am, urging you to read this book (even if you haven’t read Reign the Earth) and already dying for the next one – though I imagine that will be companion-like as well, so now I know and will be better prepared for it.


Spotlight Post: The Simple Art of Flying by Cory Leonardo is out in one month! (Giveaway)

Hey everyone! In just one month, The Simple Art of Flying by Cory Leonardo (February 12, 2019 – Aladdin) will be released to the masses! If you haven’t heard about it yet, check out more details below – and don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

Quirky characters, plucky humor, and a heartwarming message come together in this big-hearted debut novel about friendship and the true meaning of family.

Sometimes flying means keeping your feet on the ground…

Born in a dismal room in a pet store, Alastair the African grey parrot dreams of escape to bluer skies. He’d like nothing more than to fly away to a palm tree with his beloved sister, Aggie. But when Aggie is purchased by twelve-year-old Fritz, and Alastair is adopted by elderly dance-enthusiast and pie-baker Albertina Plopky, the future looks ready to crash-land.

In-between anxiously plucking his feathers, eating a few books, and finding his own poetic voice, Alastair plots his way to a family reunion. But soon he’s forced to choose between the life he’s always dreamed of and admitting the truth: that sometimes, the bravest adventure is in letting go.

Goodreads | Amazon

The Book Depository | IndieBound


And now for the giveaway! Thanks to Aladdin, one lucky winner will receive a copy of The Simple Art of Flying! Giveaway is US only. To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


About the Author:
Cory Leonardo grew up believing she’d replace Vanna White on Wheel of Fortune, but when that didn’t work out, she decided she’d turn letters and phrases in a different way (but minus the glittery dresses, sadly). A born and bred upstate New Yorker, she currently lives in the Syracuse area with her husband and three plucky children. Cory was selected and mentored in Brenda Drake’s Pitch Wars 2016, and has been an active SCBWI member for the past five years. This is her first novel.


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Review: A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid KemmererA Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
Published by Bloomsbury YA on January 29, 2019
Pages: 496
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

In a lush, contemporary fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Brigid Kemmerer gives readers another compulsively readable romance perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer.

Fall in love, break the curse.

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she's instead somehow sucked into Rhen's cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn't know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what's at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

I was a little bit uncertain about reading this and I can’t even remember why, but for some reason I picked it up days after receiving it at BEA and then… I just couldn’t put it down!! You guys know I normally don’t read ARCs that far in advance, yet I read this back in June/July 2018 and it comes out in three weeks! This book had so many familiar elements that made it so fun to read: a broody, tortured prince; a fierce female protagonist; a snarky, sneering second-in-command; royalty, a curse, and a love-to-hate romance.

I had MAJOR A Court of Thorns and Roses vibes the whole time I read. But I think I just like to compare all retellings to ACOTAR now because I love it so much (well, I love ACOMAF the most, but you know what I mean). ALSO… Random because I haven’t read Hunted (Meagan Spooner) yet, but it’s coming to mind as I read this for some weird, random reason.

I loved Harper. Like I mentioned above, she was a fierce protagonist. She didn’t let anything stop her or push her around. She didn’t let her cerebral palsy slow her down or deter her. I also really liked Rhen – his character, his voice, his chapters. I loved the snark between him and Harper; their banter was great! I especially loved their realistic relationship, and the progression of that relationship.

I’m probably not supposed to like Lilith, but how can you not like an evil enchantress??? I honestly think I want a book with her story (Psst, Brigid, please make this happen!!!).

I’m seeing a lot of Lucien (from ACOTAR) in Grey, but Grey is a LOT more likable. In the beginning, I really shipped him and Harper, even though we were supposed to ship Harper and Rhen. I just adore Grey so much! Plus, Drunk Grey was absolutely hysterical, and gave me major Bash vibes.

I loved Harper and Jake’s relationship!! And Jake’s and Noah’s relationship!!!! And then that thing happened and I can’t talk about it because spoilers but it was so epic and hilarious and I loved it!

This book had me crying hardcore. It was such an emotional read, especially near the end. It felt like a stand-alone with a satisfying ending, but I can see more stories in this world, exploring other elements (*COUGH*evil enchantress story*COUGH*).

Overall, I highly recommend this one for fans of Beauty and the Beast and retellings of BatB, as well as fans of ACOMAF and stories along those lines. It was epic, emotional, and well written. The world-building is incredible, and the characters are ones you’ll root for and care for.


Favorite Quotes:

“I am always surprised to discover that when the world seems darkest, there exists the greatest opportunity for light.” – Freya


Spotlight Post: Dark of the West by Joanna Hathaway (Cover Reveal + Excerpt)

Hey everyone! Back in September 2017, I helped reveal the cover for Joanna Hathaway’s Dark of the West. Well.. Guess what?!?!? It now has an even more gorgeous cover, plus a new release date – February 5, 2019 (Tor Teen)! Check out the cover and synopsis below, then scroll down for an epic excerpt!

Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of a ruthless general, is a fighter pilot longing for a life away from the front lines. When Athan’s mother is shot and killed, his father is convinced it’s the work of his old rival, the Queen of Etania—Aurelia’s mother. Determined to avenge his wife’s murder, he devises a plot to overthrow the Queen, a plot which sends Athan undercover to Etania to gain intel from her children.

Athan’s mission becomes complicated when he finds himself falling for the girl he’s been tasked with spying upon. Aurelia feels the same attraction, all the while desperately seeking to stop the war threatening to break between the Southern territory and the old Northern kingdoms that control it—a war in which Athan’s father is determined to play a role. As diplomatic ties manage to just barely hold, the two teens struggle to remain loyal to their families and each other as they learn that war is not as black and white as they’ve been raised to believe.


Macmillan Publisher Page | Amazon | IndieBound


A tremor of anticipation wakes me before dawn. The eastern mountains have only just begun to glow, bringing with it the Safire arrival, and I sit in my bay window, silent, sketching the familiar view with lazy strokes of charcoal against blank paper. I feel mostly calm. Ready. But my stomach still feels like a knot, and I sing to myself in Resyan, distracting my nerves best I can.

“I am a mountain,” I whisper, “a song you remember.”

Invariably, my sketch changes to Liberty. The leafy branches become his mane and his eyes have hawks in them, wings spread. The poor stallion is still trapped in his stall, injured leg wrapped and splinted, and subtle despair tinges the groom’s reports. They’re leaving the decision up to Reni, the very worst idea. Reni won’t even speak of it. He pretends it never happened, refusing to visit the stables, and now the General is coming and everyone will forget suffering Liberty altogether.

I shade hard enough my pencil splinters.

Yesterday evening, Heathwyn lectured me on the protocol of this visit, rattling off the things to remember while a maid carefully manicured my nails, another one softening my hands with lavender-scented oil.

“All discussion with our visitors will be conducted in Landori, and you’re always to be pleasant and welcoming, no matter the attitude your brother adopts. And you be sure to offer the General the greatest respect. No commentary on Karkev or Thurn or anything contentious. Divert the conversation with a smile if you must, because your smile will be your greatest credit to this visit.”

I made sure to smile extra wide at that, and she clucked her tongue.

“Please, Aurelia, remember you will be watched every moment and your words and actions will reflect entirely on your mother. Reflect well, is that understood?”

She doesn’t know how well I understand that, how the weight of this visit feels like an entire secret world on my shoulders, one that no one else sees, and I promise to smile, smile, smile. Now, the morning sun shines fully and I strain my ears to listen for the sound of aeroplanes in the sky.

A slight impatience pricks inside.

Heathwyn arrives with warm bread and marmalade in hand, a nervous set to her lips, and I pick at the breakfast while she and another maidservant fuss with me—braiding my hair and pinning flowers, dabbing red on my lips and buttoning me into a sea-blue gown with ivory pearls—but in the end, it turns out well.

“The Safire won’t know where to look first,” Heathwyn says, studying me in the mirror, pleased. “You or your mother.”

“I’m sure it will be Violet’s breasts,” I reply with a grin.

Heathwyn clucks her tongue yet again, but Heathwyn hasn’t seen Violet’s chosen gown for today. I have, and so has Reni, and it certainly leaves only the most critical things to the imagination.

“Aurelia, such comments won’t—”

Her rebuttal is cut off by a growl that rattles the very window panes. It’s a fierce sound, echoing harshly off the mountains, passing close overhead. I rush for the window and press my face to the glass, trying to peer up, and Heathwyn tells me to stop because I’ll rub the pink off my cheeks. But there they are! Two Safire fighter planes circling low, flashing brilliant silver in the morning sun. They’re all sharp angles and grey metal compared to the smooth curves of our green Etanian planes, their ferocious noise carrying, surrounding us, seeming to grow with each moment like there are at least ten more hidden out of sight. One loops higher, playful in the morning sky. Black swords wink from the underside of the wings as he spins. Easy and graceful, like a falcon, before diving low again and rejoining his friend. Together, they arc towards the western airfield.

“Stars,” Reni says, appearing suddenly behind me. I step back, giving him space to look as well. “They’re moving at quite a speed, aren’t they?” He cranes his neck as they disappear from sight.

“Have you ever seen anything like it?” I ask.

“I have. It was at a circus, and everyone was dressed in ridiculous colours and acting like fools.”

I swipe at his arm. “I hope those aren’t your opening remarks to the General.” I notice, then, that nestled against his elegant green coat is a ceremonial pistol. “And I hope you’re planning to take that off.”

“It’s custom,” Reni replies. “Father wore his to every diplomatic function.”

“But we’re insisting the Safire remove theirs. It doesn’t look right if we refuse to do the same!”

Reni shrugs. “Dogs are muzzled, not royalty.”

On that vain note, he marches back for the hall, waving for me, and I say a quick, fervent prayer to my father that Reni doesn’t begin a whole war in one day.

Outside, the west entrance of the palace is bright with sun, its honey-coloured walls almost a glare. Etanian and Safire flags dance in the thick mountain wind, displayed in hopeful unity, and courtiers wait along the wide stone steps with chiffon skirts blowing, music sparkling amid the excitement. All eyes are on the long runway before us.

Reni and I stand on either side of Mother as she waits quietly, regally, at the top of the open-air steps in a maroon gown trimmed with gold, her chin raised and my father’s crown glimmering on her black hair. It’s a rare occasion for her to wear it. But today it gleams, luminous as her, a glorious reminder to the kingdom that there is nothing to fear and she rules in splendour. But there’s still a tiny tremor nearly hidden. She fingers the lace detailing of her skirt, and I wish I could squeeze her hand in reassurance.

On the tarmac, the two Safire fighters have landed, silver pipes along their nose trailing exhaust. The wind smells strongly of petrol and smoke. In the distant sky, a larger aeroplane appears, wide-winged and imposing. We watch it lower, hitting the runway with a high-pitched screech. It’s very large, propellers on either side, and the wings rattle as it brakes, swaying side to side slightly. There’s a fox-and-crossed-swords crest painted on the flank, and everyone lining the steps ceases their chatter, tilting their heads, whispering now as if their words might already be heard by the General himself.

One of the Safire pilots leaps down from his now idle fighter. His red hair is a blaze in the sun. The second pilot walks over, and they light up their cigarettes without even a glance at the royal court waiting nearby. Etanian ground crew attempt to speak to them, but they ignore it, striding for the large plane, trailing smoke like their fighters.

Mother flicks her hand. The royal guards on the tarmac come to attention.

Safire uniforms emerge from the General’s plane as the metallic creature hisses in the sun, steel and aluminum pieces settling. They march down the stairs, appearing confident, but none of them look quite like General Dakar—at least, not as far as I know. I’ve only ever seen a few distant photographs in the newspapers. It’s not until the two Safire pilots stamp out their cigarettes and straighten that I think we must be nearly to him. A man with dark skin appears at the top of the stairs. His uniform’s richly medaled, his head swiveling round to take in the runway and palace.

“Admiral Malek,” I hear one lord say knowingly to a nearby friend.

Then the Admiral is down the stairs and another tall, grey-clad shape looms in the door of the plane.

The General, at last.

He pauses there for a long, weighted moment, surveying the world before him. His gaze moves from the line of royal guards to the stone steps and then on up to Mother beneath the arched facade. He smiles.

Descending the stairs, he greets Lord Marcin and Lord Jerig with handshakes. They both put on a good show, thank the stars, then Admiral Malek and the General walk across the tarmac together, the General offering those he passes a formal, yet affable, nod.

When they stride up the palace steps, he’s still wearing his polite smile, and Mother returns it. It’s her polished one that radiates certainty. The General drops into a short bow before us. The rest of his Safire party, following behind, does the same.

“Your Majesty,” he says. “At last we’ve arrived. We’re honoured to be your guests.”

Mother dips her chin in respect. “You’re most welcome in Etania, General. The honour is ours.”


About the Author:
Joanna owes her love of books to her great-grandfather. His memoirs about life as a teenage soldier in the First World War inspired her, at a young age, to enter the complex and provocative realms of history—and she hasn’t left since. Born in Montréal, Canada, she grew up on the doorstep of New York City, then spent her teen years riding horses through the forests of Southwestern Ontario.

Her debut novel, DARK OF THE WEST (Tor Teen, 2018), is the first in a WWII-infused fantasy series of forbidden love and deadly revenge.

She is represented by Steven Salpeter of Curtis Brown Ltd.

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Spotlight Post: What You Hide by Natalie D. Richards (Excerpt)

What You Hide by Natalie D. Richards released one month ago today! Have YOU checked it out yet??

A new pulse-pounding romantic thriller from the author of We All Fall Down and Six Months Later

Spencer volunteers at the library. Sure, it’s community service, but he likes his work. Especially if it means getting to see Mallory.

Mallory spends a lot of time keeping her head down. When you’re sixteen and homeless, nothing matters more than being anonymous. But Spencer’s charm makes her want to be noticed.

Then sinister things start happening at the library. Mysterious symbols and terrifying warnings begin to appear, and management grows suspicious. Spencer and Mallory know a homeless teenager makes an easy target, and if they can’t find the real culprit soon, they could lose more than just their safe haven…


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Fairview Public Library

I’ve broken curfew for plenty of stupid reasons, but climbing the public library? I can’t really be thinking about doing this.

I am, though.

Not that I could tell you why. Why would a perfectly rational guy decide to take a jog at one o’clock in the morning? And why did that jog turn into a dead-panic sprint, until I stopped in this alley, sweaty and alone on the narrow strip of pavement between the parking lot and the book drop?

I can’t figure out most of tonight, but I know this: I want to climb to the top of the Fairview Public Library.

It’s not a good idea. Climbing that wall has Terrible Choice written all over it.

But it’d be easy. Thirty, maybe thirty-five feet tall, which I could scale in my sleep. Especially with all those chunky slabs of stone creating perfect crevices for my fingers and toes. I can’t believe I’ve never noticed them. Back in fourth grade, I walked here every other Tuesday for class visits. It was a building full of books then. Now it’s an unexplored vertical trail, my ticket to a view I’ve never seen.

I do this a lot: scan buildings for ascent routes. That’s what happens when you love climbing. I want to climb rocks and trees and the football stadium and the water tower. And apparently the library.

Seriously, I could do it in five minutes. Maybe less.

Which is still plenty of time to get arrested in this town.

Here, tucked close to the side of the building in the alley, I’m not easy to see from Main Street. Halfway up the wall, though, I’d be exposed.

So, don’t be stupid.

I wipe my sweaty hands down the front of my pants and move closer, dragging two fingers down the stone. Rough. Grippy.

A memorial plaque sits on the ground near a weeping cherry tree: Higher Knowledge for Our Best Future.

I flinch, images flipping through my mind like flash cards. Dad at his spreadsheet, Mom at her leather journal, and me typing as fast as my fingers will let me, stacking up rows of words that paint a pleasing story about who I am and what I want.

I don’t know that I decide to start climbing. I just kick off my shoes and socks, and it happens. I test the edge of a curved brick with one hand, and my toes find a natural perch on another. It’s a strong position. A good hold. One upward glance and the path reveals itself—a push with my foot, and my left hand will go to the slightly darker stone. My right will reach the slab below the first-floor windows. Then the edge above it. I see one smooth white stone that might give me trouble, but I can always go for the ledge of the second-floor window if I need to.

I start my ascent, slow and steady. The world slips quietly away. I can’t hear my mom listing college hockey stats, and I can’t see my dad’s postgraduation salary predictions. None of the things I should do and be matter up here.

Eyes open. Core engaged. Grip strong. There is only the steady hunt for the summit when I climb. Nothing else. And, so far, this hunt is easy pickings.

My fingers slip, and I frown, retreating to my former hold. I try again. The problem is the smooth, knobby bit I’d seen below; the one I feared might be trouble. A third attempt, and I pull back to reassess. I need an alternative, because I can’t grip that smooth section without rosin, and I don’t have rosin.

Or a harness.

I’m twenty-five feet up with no harness.

This fact hits me square in the chest, and in the span of one breath, my heart turns to a bag of worms. I grip my toes and push close to the wall to steady myself. Panic and stupidity lead to most climbing accidents, and I’ve already covered the stupidity bit.

“Not smart,” I tell myself, and that’s all I allow. I’ll have to rub this lesson in later, when I’m back on the ground without an assortment of broken bones.

When my heart slows to a steady thud-thud-thud, I start looking for a better route. I’m maybe ten or fifteen feet from the top. With my adrenaline wearing off, it feels doable. This is not a difficult climb. Once I’m up, the fire escape ladder on the back of the building will make for an easy way down. I just need to do it.

I relax into my feet and start up the path closest to the second-story window. I still have that sill if I need it.

I push off my right foot as I reach up, a good pinch at a comfortable reach. Excellent. Plus, I see a perfect lip for my left hand, so I push up through that leg to snag the next hold. My grip sticks, but something snaps. My left foot drops hard, leg scraping stone. I lurch in the opposite direction, forcing my center of gravity to the right.

Was it the brick? I glance down at the wall below, seeing freshly cracked stone where my foot used to be. Bits of mortar and rock lay in the grass, and my stomach drops into my feet.

I was standing on that seconds ago. If it had broken any earlier, I’d have fallen. I lick my lips, heart pounding. Nothing about that brick looked wrong. There was zero warning.

Which means there might not be a warning next time.

Who’s to say the one I’m on now won’t snap? My worry ratchets higher with every breath. I don’t know anything about this wall. These bricks could be painted hunks of mortar for all I know. Every last one could break.

Okay, new plan. I need to get up this wall before it falls apart.

The window.

The sill beneath it will be solid concrete. It’ll hold and give me time to breathe. When my body is in line, I swing my left leg up hard. I have to get high enough to catch the window sill.

I overshoot it. My knee hits the glass with a crack. I stop breathing, mouth dropping open at the neat hole my patella punched in the pane. Cracks spider from the hole in multiple directions. For one breathless instant, all I can do is stare, my bare toes resting on the concrete sill while bits of glass clink down from the opening.

Unbelievable. I kicked in the freaking window.

A shard hits my big toe, and it jolts me into action. I drag myself to the right of the mess, my face scraping mortar. The window I broke is tall and wide with arched glass that looks…expensive.

I’ll worry about it later. I need to finish this and get down before something else goes wrong.

Nothing does. The rest of the climb passes without incident. At the top, I haul myself over the concrete cornice and drop to my backside, panting in relief.

I should bolt for the ladder, but my legs have turned to jelly. I need a minute to catch my breath. I enjoy the view, which is nothing to sneeze at. Fairview is easy on the eyes from up here. A row of postcard-worthy businesses line Main Street, embellished with flower boxes and understated window displays. Here and there, iron benches rest under neatly trimmed trees—an invitation to linger.

Beyond Main Street, the streets give way to a sleeping patchwork of lush, green lawns with curving gardens and winding paths. And houses. Large, beautiful houses.

One of those houses is yours.

My throat squeezes, and I lean forward, staring at the soft glow of streetlights and curved streets. It is the definition of peaceful and safe, but I’m not feeling either of those things. I feel like I’m peering into another dimension. Like I’m seeing something I’ve never seen. Which is ridiculous. I live down there. Fairview has always been home.


A flash of blue and white lights. The police. There’s a single cruiser six or seven intersections down Main Street, so someone must have seen me. Adrenaline floods my senses.

Get up. I have to get up.

My body is heavy. Immobile. What the hell is wrong with me? I need to run!

But I don’t. Moments later, the cruiser turns into the library parking lot, and it’s like my body is frozen. My eyes follow the car as it parks, then trail the beam of the spotlight across the library wall. Shrubs and mulch are illuminated. Then, the cherry tree. Next, my discarded socks and shoes.

I wonder what they’ll do when they figure out I’m up here.

I wonder what it’ll feel like when they take me away.


About the Author:
After years as a professional paper-pusher, NATALIE D. RICHARDS decided to trade in reality for a life writing YA fiction. She lives in Ohio (Go Bucks!) with her husband, three children, and a ridiculously furry dog named Yeti.


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