Review: Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Home Before DarkHome Before Dark by Riley Sager
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

RILEY SAGER!!!

He has done it again, and actually, I think this is his best work yet!!!

Loved. Loved. Loved.

Perhaps I should throw together some coherent thoughts? Yeah, let’s try.

Upon the death of her father, Maggie Holt, is shocked to discover she has just inherited Baneberry Hall, the allegedly haunted mansion her and her parents abandoned some 25-years earlier.

Quite literally fleeing in the middle of the night, her parents refused to ever return to the property. Her father then published a best-selling non-fiction account of their time there. As you do.

For Maggie’s part, she remembers nothing of her time at Baneberry. Of course, she was just 5-years old and apparently her little mind wiped the slate clean after they departed.

She has read her father’s book, House of Horrors, numerous times, but doesn’t believe a word of it. Her parents, whose relationship didn’t survive the Book, wouldn’t tell her anything, even though she pleaded with them frequently to do so.

Returning all these years later, Maggie hopes to piece together a bit of the truth while she is renovating the home for sale.

As soon as she steps foot on the Baneberry property, however, she’s knows it is not going to be as easy as she had hoped.

Alternating between Maggie’s current perspective and full chapters from House of Horrors was an absolutely delightful way to read this story. I loved how Sager set that up.

The pacing was perfection!

I was so engaged with this throughout. It got into my mind.

I was racing towards the conclusion trying to discover how much of House of Horrors was the truth.

Baneberry Hall was such a presence in the story. It was ominous and creepy AF.

I can’t imagine being Maggie and actually staying there on my own!

Home Before Dark is without a doubt going to be on my top books of the year list!

If you haven’t read anything by Sager yet and are wondering where to start, I highly recommend giving this one a shot. I think it is a perfect example of his style.

If you have read Sager before, and are a fan, what are you waiting for!?

I cannot wait to see what he comes up with next!

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Flashback Review: Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

AllegedlyAllegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

Hello, my lovely book friends! Today I thought I would bring you a Flashback review. I originally read and reviewed this novel back in September 2018.

Why am I bringing it up again, you may be wondering?

That’s easy. Because I love this book and still think about it to this day. Also, this novel introduced me to one of my FAVORITE YA Contemporary authors. Tiffany D. Jackson’s writing takes me places and I love every minute of it. Read my full thoughts below and I hope, if you haven’t already, you’ll seriously consider picking up some of Jackson’s work!

Allegedly was Tiffany D. Jackson’s debut novel!?

Yeah, think on that for a while. This. Is. A. Debut.

I am still reeling from this book. It’s one of those stories that sticks with you long after you turn the final page.

Following teenage protagonist, Mary Addison, after she is released from ‘Baby Jail.‘, she now resides in a group home and is trying to adapt to surroundings.

Mary Addison entered Baby Jail after being accused, and prosecuted, for killing a baby that she was helping her mother take care of.

Allegedly.

The majority of the book is stream of consciousness narrative, which generally is hit or miss for me. This is a definite hit and how it should be done.

It was incredibly moving to hear Mary’s remembrances of various parts of her childhood, her challenging relationship with her mentally ill mother, and of her alleged crime.

The rest of the book cleverly fills in the blanks with an excellent assortment of mixed media sources, such as police interviews and court transcripts.

I thought the blending of these two styles together was executed perfectly to reveal the truth at the heart of the story.

The thing I appreciated most about this book was the way it reflected upon the juvenile justice system. Shining a much needed light on the hopelessness and desperation these kids experience, not to mention the general systematic failures.

Behind every case number, inmate number and statistic, is a story. This is just one.

Mary Addison is a whip-smart, mixed race girl, who struggles with low feelings of self-worth and faces a boatload of obstacles.

Her codependency with her mother and her mental illness was so raw. I truly felt for this girl. I was drawn into her story. It was such a struggle to get through some sections, but completely worth it.

It was so well done that at times, I would be so wrapped up, I had to remind myself that Mary Addison is FICTION. Sadly, for a lot of kids out there, too many kids, this story is all too real.

I did listen to the audiobook for this and DAMN, Bahni Turpin can make you feel all the feels. She is so talented and truly brought the story to life for me. I was listening to Mary as far as I was concerned. I could not recommend this audiobook highly enough.

Loved it, loved it, loved it!

Tiffany D. Jackson is one hell of a writer!

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The Best Books I’ve Read in 2020

Now that we are officially halfway through 2020, I thought it would be a good time for me to tell you about the best books I have read so far this year!

My monthly wrap-ups have been nonexistent this year. I think I have written one. So, this serves as sort of a 6-month wrap-up with just good stuff. I am not going to include rereads in this; all these books were new to me in 2020.

First up is a book I am currently reading. I have about a quarter of the book to go, I am taking my time with it because it is so damn good, I don’t want it to end! This was one of my most anticipated releases of the year and if you guessed¬†Home Before Dark by Riley Sager, you are correct!

Yes, Home Before Dark is the Horror Thriller of my dreams. When Maggie Holt was just a girl, she and her parents moved into a desolate Vermont mansion, Baneberry Hall. They were there for 3-weeks before they fled for their lives. Her father subsequently released a novel titled, House of Horrors, that tells of their time within the house that he claims is haunted.

Twenty-five years later, after his death, Maggie returns to Baneberry Hall for the first time seeking answers. Was her father’s novel a complicated lie or are the halls of Baneberry actually as haunted as he claims?

Told in alternating sections between Maggie’s current day timeline and excerpts from the Book, I am loving every single second of my time reading this! Horror fans rejoice, this is perfection.

Next up, I would have to mention King’s newest release.¬†If It Bleeds¬†is a four-story short-story collection that includes an anticipated release following one of my favorite characters from the Bill Hodges Trilogy,¬†Holly Gibney.

I felt this was such a great, well-rounded collection. I loved every single story. They all had completely different topics and feels, but somehow worked together perfectly. I actually think I loved this as much as Full Dark, No Stars, which is saying a lot, as that is currently my number one favorite short-story collection.

Keeping with the King, I have to mention¬†Duma Key,¬†which I read last month for a readalong with a bunch of folks in the Constant Reader community on Bookstagram. Firstly, I am so disappointed in myself for not picking up this epic story before now. It was soooooo good. I can’t believe it has been missing from my life all these years.

It follows a man, who after a devastating construction site accident, moves to a remote section of the Florida coastline to recover, both mentally and physically. There he rediscovers a passion for making art, but when Duma Key essentially begins communicating with him through his artwork, the real fun begins. Steeped in family lore and hidden secrets, this story contains beautiful friendships and a ton of hauntings. It is everything!

Even though I have owned a copy of this book since it was released in 2008, I had never even read the synopsis. I had literally no clue what this book was about going in and became completely entranced as the story unfolded. This felt like classic King to me; full of paranormal glee.

Taking a completely different turn, a YA-Contemporary that has blown me away this year would be, Felix Ever After, by Kacen Callender. Following Felix Love, a transgender teen living in New York, this story is a journey of self-acceptance and discovery as Felix learns how important it is to love himself, in addition to accepting love from others.

After a fellow student creates a gallery listing Felix’s deadname, along with photos of him before his transition, he is rightly shattered. He vows to find the person responsible and make them pay. Along with his best friend, Ezrah, he sets out to do just that. For a while, Ez is on board, but eventually Felix goes rogue and continues his revenge plot on his own. During this time, Felix evolves a lot as a character, as he opens up to individuals he had previously blocked from his life and seeks to understand more about his own identity.

Speaking of YA, the YA Mystery/Thriller game has been very strong this year, as I have discovered two new favorites in 2020 releases. Those would be,¬†I Killed Zoe Spanos,¬†by Kit Frick and¬†A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder,¬†by Holly Jackson. Both of these novels follow teen girls doing some amateur sleuthing into unsolved disappearances in their hometowns.

In I Killed Zoe Spanos, Martina Green creates a podcast investigating the mysterious disappearance of Zoe Spanos. Throughout the book we get the transcripts of entire podcast episodes and it was such a phenomenal way to build out the story. I adored this entire book, start-to-finish; the podcast element being just one small portion of the fuller narrative.

In¬†A Good Girl’s Guide,¬†we follow high school Senior, Pippa Fitz-Amobi, as she investigates the disappearance of local girl, Andie Bell, for her Senior Capstone project. Andie’s boyfriend, Sal Singh, has been accused of murdering her in a jealous rage. Pippa knows Sal and is not buying this official story. She thinks the town is covering up something and she is hell bent on exposing the secrets.

Pippa is a fantastic character. I loved reading from her perspective. Even when things got really scary, she was dogged in her search. Never giving up and never allowing others to tell her she couldn’t do something. This was cleverly formatted as well to make it a highly addictive story!

Another favorite for 2020 thus far would be Julie Kagawa’s concluding book in the¬†Shadow of the Fox¬†trilogy,¬†Night of the Dragon.¬†Returning to the land of Iwagoto, we follow kitsune shapeshifter, Yumeko, and her friends as the continue to work to keep the infamous Dragon Scroll safe. They are quite literally on a quest to save the world, so no pressure.

As much as I did not want this series to end, I could not have dreamed up a more stunning conclusion. This story shattered my soul into a million pieces. It stole my breath, but also instilled a sense of love and hope. Kagawa is wildly imaginative and an exceptional storyteller. This entire series was flawless. All the stars.

And finally, a new favorite Horror novel for me would be Grady Hendrix’s 2020 release,¬†The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires.¬†This story swept me away from the very first pages. I love the tone of Hendrix’s writing. This one, set in the 90s, felt like the 90s. Following housewife, Patricia Campbell, in her suburban South Carolina town, we watch as she steps outside of her comfort zone to save all she loves, when an evil force arrives in town.

Hendrix can effortlessly blend humor with horror in his novels and I absolutely adore it. This book made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me cringe and gag; it was incredible. Highly recommend this to any Horror fan!

So, those are my top, top, top books of 2020 thus far. I have read so many great books this year. A lot of 5-star reads, but when I reflect back, these are the titles that have truly stayed with me.

I am slaying my 2020-reading goals as well, which feels great. I set my goal at 150-books for the year and as of this writing, have completed 111-books. It’s fairly obvious to me I will be exceeding my goal.

Okay, that’s enough from me for now! I have to go read! I am participating in the blog tour tomorrow for the release of Girl, Serpent, Thorn¬†by Melissa Bashardoust, so stay tuned for that!

Until next time, Cheers & Happy Reading!

Review: Duma Key by Stephen King

Duma KeyDuma Key by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Duma Key has climbed the ranks and officially entered my ‘Top 5 Kings’ List. This is quite an accomplishment, if I do say so myself.

Edgar Freemantle is a successful businessman.

Living with his wife of 20+ years in Minnesota, they have raised two healthy girls and have a good life. A solid life.

This is, until the day Edgar is involved in a horrific accident on one of his construction sites.

Crushed by a piece of heavy equipment, he is lucky to be alive, although losing his right arm, injuring his hip and scrambling his brain doesn’t seem so lucky to him immediately after the fact.

His recovery is extremely difficult, putting a lot of strain on his marriage, with him and Pam ultimately separating.

His psychologist, Dr. Kamen, suggests perhaps a change of scenery would be best for his recovery efforts, as well as a hobby. Edgar figures, why not? He has the money, what is he sticking around Minnesota for?

He rents a beach house on a remote, undeveloped piece of land on the Florida coast, Duma Key. The house, something of an artist’s retreat, is perfect for him, as he is feeling like doing some sketching himself.

Edgar begins to settle in and does indeed begin to create amazing art.

He’s unsure where some of it is coming from. He just seems to be compelled. The drawings and paintings pour out of him at an incredible rate, becoming more intricate and astounding as he progresses.

During this time, he makes a new friend while out for one of his daily beach walks. Jerome Wireman lives at the big house on Duma Key, caring for its aging lady of the house, Elizabeth Eastlake.

It is mainly through these characters that Edgar begins to learn of the dark history and lore of Duma Key and the Eastlake family.

However, Duma has a lot to say itself and that’s when things really start to get dangerous.

There is so much to love about this story. I knew absolutely zero about it going in. I don’t even think I ever read a full synopsis.

I was delighted as the story unfolded. The relationships, as is to be expected with King, were so deep and well done. The friendship between Edgar and Wireman is easily one of the best I have ever read.

In my opinion, King is great with this type of human dynamics. Further, I really appreciate how none of the relationships in this story were romantic.

It’s friendship, it’s family, and none of them are perfect, but they’re all so real and compelling.

Duma Key itself was incredibly well done. He has such a sense of place, always incorporating the idea that places remember; pieces of history live on through the lifeblood of the land and structures themselves.

You see this type of idea a lot throughout King’s works, from this one, to The Shining, Pet Sematary and everything in between.

Overall, I could wax poetic about this novel for hours. There is so much to unpack with this story. It’s extremely intricate, I would love to read it again someday and most likely will.

If you are a Constant Reader and haven’t picked this up yet, delay no more. It’s a stunner!

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Review: Dark Disciple (Star Wars) by Christie Golden

Dark Disciple: Star WarsDark Disciple: Star Wars by Christie Golden
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

The only way to bring down the Sith’s most powerful warrior may be to join forces with the dark side.

Dark Disciple is an Adult novel within the Disney Star Wars Canon. To put it in timeline perspective, it is my understanding that this book falls after the novel, Catalyst and just prior to the Revenge of the Sith movie.

Interestingly, or at least for fans, this novel is based on a story arc scripted for The Clone Wars television series that went unproduced after the show was canceled.

My initial attraction to this book, besides the fact that I want to read all the Canon novels, was Asajj Ventress, the infamous former apprentice to Count Dooku.

This book built out her character in such a pleasing way. I love when a antihero gets their time to shine.

As the war rages on in the galaxy, Count Dooku’s tactics become more and more brutal. The Republic cannot stand by while hundreds more innocent lives are lost.

The Jedi Council surmises the best way to defeat Dooku, perhaps the only way, would be to join forces with someone who knows him best.

Asajj Ventress, Count Dooku’s former protege, becomes their focus for the mission.

Ventress, now making ends meet as a bounty hunter, is perfect for the assignment. After Dooku attempted to have her killed, she severed all ties with him and that hatred runs deep.

Quinlan Vos, the Jedi Knight assigned the mission, sets out to find Asajj with the goal of getting her to assist him in assassinating Dooku.

Once the two meet up, their budding relationship grows quickly. I loved the banter between them as they struggled to figure out a power balance.

Ventress ultimately teaches Vos many things, including how to harness the power of the dark side; a line that is most dangerous to cross.

As is to be expected, there was a ton of action in here. I loved the various battle scenes, but also loved the quieter moments between Vos and Ventress.

I certainly don’t need romance in my Star Wars, but for me, it was more about watching Ventress being able to let her guard down and open up to someone.

She has such a tough facade and reputation, and rarely lets that slip, even for a moment. Reading her in the more vulnerable moments, particularly when she told Vos the truth of what happened to her fellow Nightsisters, it gave me all the feels.

Additionally, the deep bond that forms between them was so well written. A forbidden romance if ever there was one.

Ultimately, this story did shred my heart in a hundred million pieces, but I’m willing to forgive Christie Golden because she wrote it with such care and grace.

Overall, I loved this story. Highly recommend to Star Wars fans who enjoy to dabble in the power of the dark side.

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Review: I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick

I Killed Zoe SpanosI Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A couple of months ago, I read A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson, and promptly proclaimed it my new favorite YA Mystery/Thriller.

I also initially said it would be hard to beat. The next thing I know, Kit Frick comes along with this beauty, I Killed Zoe Spanos, and shattered all my expectations.

I love this book so much, y’all. An all new favorite!!

I will admit, right out of the gate, that I know this isn’t going to be for everyone. However, for me, this was pretty damn near perfect.

Our protagonist, Anna Cicconi, has accepted a position as a summer nanny for a family in the small Hamptons village of, Herron Mills.

She has recently graduated high school and is trying to turn over a new leaf before starting college in the Fall.

This includes distancing herself from city life, particularly her best friend, Kaylee, who is a party girl through and through.

Anna has been running wild lately and doesn’t like how she feels about herself after. The blackout nights are the worst. She just needs to stay away from alcohol for the summer, put her head down, and concentrate on saving money for school.

Once she is settled in, she can hardly believe her luck. The little girl she is caring for, Paisley, is really sweet and easy, plus the house she is staying in is completely swank.

Anna does have one problem though, the nights. She has every evening off and needs to stay occupied because it is never good for her to sit to long with her thoughts. She starts to go on a lot of nighttime walks, exploring the property grounds and surrounding neighborhood.

It’s on one of these excursions when she happens to meet the cute and mysterious boy next door, Caden, for the first time. He is home from Yale for the summer, staying in his family mansion, Windmere.

Caden is surprised to meet Anna as well, as she looks shockingly like his fiance, Zoe Spanos, who has been missing since New Years Eve.

It’s not the first time Anna has experienced this. Around town people are definitely shocked upon seeing the similarity between her and the missing girl.

Paired with the fact that Anna begins to have memories of Herron Mills, even though she has never been there before, it’s not surprising when she starts to believe she may have a connection to Zoe.

Interspersed amongst the current narrative chapters, we also have entire podcast episodes by Martina Green, investigating Zoe’s disappearance.

Even though the police believe she ran away, Martina, best friend of Zoe’s younger sister, Aster, doesn’t buy it. She begins her own investigation and documents it through her podcast.

It’s so good. I love, love, love the podcast element as a way to tell the story.

The back and forth, the way details of Zoe’s life and disappearance are exposed, was absolutely intoxicating. Once I got into this story, I could not put it down.

Racing towards the conclusion, I had no idea how it was going to end. Were Zoe and Anna connected? Was something supernatural happening? Is Zoe alive? Are Zoe and Anna the same person!?

I was confused, I was intrigued, I was loving every minute of it!

This is a summer Thriller everyone will want to read. I may read it again, actually, once the audiobook is released. I would love how to see how they handle the podcast in the audio.

So, in short, if you love intense, twisty-turny Thrillers, with a possibly unreliable narrator, a podcast, amateur sleuthing and multiple red herrings, you definitely need to pick this book up!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Margaret K. McElderry Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

There’s nothing like finding a new favorite!

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Review: The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying VampiresThe Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Patricia Campbell’s life may be full, but she wouldn’t necessarily call it fulfilling. The one thing she has of her own to look forward to, are the evenings spent with the ladies of her ‘murderinos’ Book Club.

The Club consists of a group of like-minded Southern housewives, who discuss True Crime and other less savory topics, they would never openly admit they’re interested in.

It’s the early-1990s and in their conservative neighborhood, just outside of Charleston, it sounds better to say their Club is a Bible Study. So, that’s what they say.

It raises a lot less eyebrows that way.

When a handsome stranger moves to town, Patricia is intrigued and oddly enough, he seems interested in joining the conversation.

Patricia, in neighborly good spirits, invites him along to Book Club one evening. After all, how much harm could it possibly cause?

The closer Patricia gets to this man, James Harris, the more she seems to notice that something’s not quite right about him.

Patricia’s live-in mother-in-law seems to take an instant dislike to him; possibly confusing him with someone from her past. No doubt a symptom of her dementia, but there are other things too.

As local children begin disappearing, whispers of a boogie man luring them to the woods surface.

Patricia, spurred on by the woman who once offered care to her mother-in-law, begins an investigation of her own. She suspects James may be behind the horrific events, but will anyone believe her?

Luckily, Patricia does have some true friends within her Book Club and the ladies team up to get to the bottom of the mystery that is, James Harris.

Guys, I LOVED this book so much!

The dynamics amongst the ladies in the Book Club, it gave me life! I adored their Southern charm and humor, as well as the time period being the early 90s.

Hendrix writes Horror Comedy so well, somehow making it lighthearted, yet horrifying at the same time. It’s really quite a skill.

There was also a certain scene in here, occurring during Patricia’s investigation, that was hands down, one of the most cringe worthy scenes I have EVER read.

That sh*t would make Stephen King proud. It was legit, skin crawling, gagging, exclaiming while I’m reading, good.

I listened to the audiobook for this read, having since purchased a hard copy. I know I will be reading this again.

Side note, it just so happens, which I didn’t know going in, that this is voiced by my favorite narrator of all time, Bahni Turpin, who is an absolute goddess!

If you are considering listening to the audio, I absolutely recommend it. A++ performance!

Overall, this book knocked it out of the park. An easy 5-stars from me. Believe the hype!

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A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder (A Good Girl's Guide to Murder, #1)A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this so much! My new favorite YA Mystery/Thriller of all time. This one will be tough to beat.

For her senior year Capstone Project, Pippa Fitz-Amboi, decides to solve a murder.

The murder in question, that of Andie Bell, happened five years ago. The police, and thus the whole town, say the crime was committed by Andie’s boyfriend, Sal Singh.

Their biggest piece of evidence, a texted confession to his parents, just prior to Sal’s apparent suicide.

In spite of this, Pippa does not believe Sal is guilty. Andie’s body was never recovered and there is no actual physical evidence against him.

Pippa is such a great character. She’s an overachiever who works tirelessly towards her goal.

You can tell, once she sets her sights on something, she does not give up and that’s exactly how she tackles this project.

I think one of the things that connected me so much to this story was Pippa. I found her super relatable and loved reading from her perspective.

She ends up befriending Sal’s younger brother, Ravi, and that additional commitment to him, and clearing Sal’s name, makes her even more steadfast in her project; even in the face of danger.

Additionally, the format of this was creative and engaging. Using mixed media sources, including the transcripts from Pippa’s multiple investigatory interviews, and a present day narrative, made me feel like I was a part of the investigation.

As Pippa is evaluating what she has learned along the way, she recaps things, as you actually would if you were working on this type of project; including a running list of current suspects and a murder board.

The stakes were high and there were times Pippa was very legitimately in danger. Through it all, she stayed true to herself and really fought to find justice for Andie and Sal.

I loved this so much, as I said. I could go on for many more paragraphs of all the positive attributes of this story, but don’t just take my word for it, PICK THIS UP!!!

If you love it even half as much as I did, you’re in for a good time!

Well done by Holly Jackson. I am so excited to get more mysteries from her!!!

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Review: Night of the Dragon (Shadow of the Fox #3) by Julie Kagawa

Night of the Dragon (Shadow of the Fox, #3)Night of the Dragon by Julie Kagawa
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

((sobbing))

Oh, my babies! My poor sweet babies! Why must you leave me so soon!?

I never wanted this to end. I tried to drag it out as long as possible, but sadly, it is done.

My favorite YA Fantasy trilogy has come to an end. It is time for me to leave Yumeko and the land of Iwagato behind. The spirit will live in my heart for a lifetime.

Julie Kagawa has blessed us all with the Shadow of the Fox triology and for that, I will be forever grateful.

Sure, I may be dramatic, but that doesn’t make it less true.

Have y’all started this journey yet?

As a conclusion to the series, this gave me everything I wanted and more. All of the loose ends were tied, lessons were learned and so many feelings were felt.

The final few pages of this legit shattered my heart into a million pieces while simultaneously putting them back together again.

The entirety of this installment is packed full of action. There was so much on the line and our protagonists did not have it easy. There was no easy way out in this story.

The world creation skills that Kagawa displays are simply top shelf. I was completely immersed in this world. I saw it all playing out in my minds eye like I was actually there. It was so impressive.

I don’t know what else to say. I am speechless.

I loved all of the characters so much. I loved the world. I loved the quest. I love the Japanese inspired folklore and feeling of it all. Just an overall incredible story from beginning to end.

If you have not given this series a shot, I really hope you do. For me, it’s pure perfection, one I will read again in the future.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Inkyard Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. It was easily my most anticipated YA Fantasy of the year and it did not disappoint!

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Blog Tour: Night of the Dragon (Shadow of the Fox #3) by Julie Kagawa

Hello, my lovely book friends. I hope you are all doing well in these troubled times. I hope you are safe and healthy.

As we are all aware, the world is suffering through a pandemic at the moment and many of us have been asked to shelter in place in order to help stop the spread of this virus.

Because of this, many schools  and workplaces have closed. Additionally, a lot of events that a great many people were looking forward to have been cancelled.

In the book world, author tours have been cancelled, along with bigger events such as NoVaTeen and Book Con either being rescheduled or called off entirely.

One thing we can all count on however, is new books being released on Tuesdays. Oh, how I love Tuesdays!!!

This coming Tuesday, March 31, 2020, my most anticipated YA book of the year is set to be released: Night of the Dragon by Julie Kagawa!!!

Night of the Dragon is the third and final book in the Shadow of the Fox series, a Japanese-inspired fantasy series that literally stole my heart when I first picked it up last year.

From the very first chapter of the first book,¬†Shadow of the Fox,¬†I was hooked. Kagawa’s writing style is so pleasing, the lush world, the cleverly crafted characters, all of it combined to be a recipe for an absolutely engrossing tale!

At this point you may be thinking, yes, this sounds great, but what is it about?

In the land of Iwagoto, the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, has the power to bring forth the Kami Dragon.

The dragon is capable of granting the summoner a single wish. If they are pure of heart, theoretically, all is well, if they are not, all hell will break loose.

In order to protect the land, the scroll was divided and the separate parts hidden away to prevent such disastrous consequences from happening, as it had in the past.

People are always searching for the parts, however, as combining them again could grant the summoner unrivaled power.

Yumeko, has been raised in the Silent Winds Temple where one piece of the scroll has been hidden away. When the Temple is attacked by demons, Yumeko is forced to flee, with the scroll.

She promises the monks she will transport it to another temple, where she will then receive further directions. Trained her whole life to hide her Yokai nature, half kitsune, half human, Yumeko is a master of illusion and mischief which obviously aides her in her travels.

Some clarification if you are new to Japanese Fantasy, a Yokai is a type of supernatural being in Japanese folklore. A kitsune, is one type of Yokai, a fox spirit that frequently appears in such folklore.

In the past couple of years, I have read a few different books with kitsune main characters and I feel it is a very fun perspective to read from!

On the run, Yumeko meets up with Kage Tatsumi, a samurai of the mysterious Shadow Clan.

Tatsumi has been sent out in search of the scroll. He finds Yumeko close by the now destroyed temple and promises to get her to her destination safely. Of course, he has no idea, she actually carries what he seeks.

They meet up with another character along the way, Okame, a ronin, basically a traveling samurai without a master. He begins to travel with them and quickly became my favorite character. A source of almost constant humor, I just cannot imagine this story without him!

In addition to the lush world and fantastic characters, this triology also has one of my most loved tropes in literature: A QUEST. A ragtag group of characters trying to get from Point A to Point B, overcoming obstacles along the way, nothing keeps me turning pages faster.

At its heart, this is a fantastic quest story.

The stakes, the secrets, the magic, the world, I think you can tell I fell head-over-heels for it all. And don’t even get me started on the hella SLOW-BURNING romance!

The second book in the series, Soul of the Sword, continues directly on from the events of the first book, doing what it should: upping the stakes and continuing to build out the complexity of the world.

Another way I like to describe this entire story, if you aren’t sold already, is anime come to life. The atmosphere and tone of this is so dynamic, it leaps off the page and into your minds-eye so clearly. It’s honestly tremendous.

I am currently halfway through the final book. Honestly, I am taking my time with it. I don’t want it to end!!!

So far, this story, again, has continued to build, I know the final scenes are going to be epic. Kagawa has such a beautiful way of showing you the world. I have never felt confused. In fact, I am completely immersed. When I am reading it, the rest of the world could stop and I wouldn’t even notice.

During this difficult time, if you need a way to escape, something to immerse yourself in to forget life for a while, I cannot recommend this series strongly enough.

Now is the perfect time to get lost with Yumeko and Tatsumi, to go on that adventure and maybe save the world. Who knows?

I want to thank the publisher, Inkyard Press, for blessing me with an early copy of this book. I am thoroughly enjoying it and plan to finish it later today. Make sure you check back in for my full review. Also, if you have read these books, let me know your thoughts in the comments below or contact me through any of my social media links.

Where ever you are and what ever you are doing, I hope you are doing it in good health and happiness. Love you all!

Cheers & happy reading!