Review: The Brightest Night (Origin #3) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

The Brightest Night (Origin, #3)The Brightest Night by Jennifer L. Armentrout
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Well, this is going to get uncomfortable.

The Brightest Night is the third installment to Jennifer L. Armentrout’s, Origin series.

Since this is the third book, some minor spoilers may lay ahead.

First off, the rating for this book currently is off the charts, so please do not let the fact that I did not enjoy this one, sway you from picking it up if you have been loving the Origin series.

I too, had been loving the series, but this felt like something completely different. I feel like I read the wrong book, and with that cover, who knows!? Maybe I did.

For me, this was incredibly boring. Gone was the witty banter, the high body count, the twists and reveals.

Now that Luc and Evie are together, I found their relationship completely insufferable.

60% of this book was them professing their love, their feelings, their attraction, their obsession. You are a gift, you are the greatest, you are amazing, how can a creature as perfect as you exist, I love you, I can’t live without you, I will die for you, have I mentioned I love you?

30% was talking about other topics, mainly babies, making babies, giving birth to babies, raising babies and, oh yeah, Evie’s powers.

10% was engaging plot.

Unfortunately, I had to push myself the entire way through to complete this. I was so relieved when it was finally over, and with it, my commitment to this series.

Obviously, Armentrout is a widely talented and successful writer, this one was just an absolute miss for me.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor Teen, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. As always I appreciate the opportunity.

There’s a Reader for every book, and a book for every Reader, sadly this one just wasn’t for me.

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Review: Queen of Volts (The Shadow Game #3) by Amanda Foody

Queen of Volts (The Shadow Game, #3)Queen of Volts by Amanda Foody
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

Welcome to New Reynes, self-proclaimed City of Sin, and one of the most interesting worlds in YA literature.

Queen of Volts is the final installment of The Shadow Game trilogy and therefore, was destined to break my heart.

I dragged out my time reading this. Literally, tried to make it last as long as possible.

Picking up where King of Fools left off, this third book finds Levi and Enne forced to play the most dangerous game yet.

Levi, who is being drawn to the straight life of politics, and Enne, who must figure out how to navigate with her true nature exposed, grapple with their feelings for one another.

Should they play the game as allies or enemies?

I mean, that was my vote.

If you know nothing about this series, I urge you to go read about Ace of Shades. These books are full of intrigue, plotting, scheming, backstabbing and compelling ambitions.

There are street gangs, crime lords, corrupt politicians, gambling dens and magic.

Legends come to life. It’s a dangerous, seedy world and I loved every minute of it. Such a vibe.

I could go on and on about the many things I loved about this series, but honestly, you just need to try it for yourself.

I will say the story truly matured along the way, so perhaps if you picked up Ace of Shades and it was just okay for you, I would urge you to give the second book a shot.

This is one of my favorite YA trilogies of all time. I love the low key MacBeth vibes that I picked up throughout.

It’s just everything. I love it. Amazing job, Amanda Foody. I can’t wait to binge read the series in its entirety someday.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Inkyard Press, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review.

This was absolutely one of my most anticipated books of the year, so I truly appreciate it!

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Review: Lobizona (Wolves of No World #1) by Romina Garber

Lobizona (Wolves of No World, #1)Lobizona by Romina Garber
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

Lobizona was a mixed bag for me, however, it has given me a lot to think about and for that, I am grateful.

Manuela Azul, our protagonist, is an undocumented immigrant, living in Miami with her mother and a surrogate grandmother.

She has learned to be hidden in plain sight because of that, but also for another reason, her odd eyes; eyes like no other.

When her grandmother has an accident that forces Manu to call for help, a series of events begins that will change Manu’s life forever.

Manu’s mother gets arrested by ICE, leaving Manu to fend for herself. On her own for the first time, she sets out to discover the truth about herself and her past.

She knows her father’s name and that he was from a crime family. A family that her mother was on the run from, or at least that is what she has been told, but is that the truth?

Manu ends up stumbling upon an entire magical world that she is a part of. The mystery of her eyes is finally revealed to her. She is the first known Lobizona, a female werewolf.

There are brujas and lobizons galore. A magical school. Magical sports that Manu happens to excel at and that is where the story started to lose me.

The beginning of this was strong for me. The opening scenes were quite intense.

Garber did an incredible job of portraying the stress and fear experienced by undocumented peoples within the United States.

It was visceral reading about the way Manu and her family had to adjust so much about their lives in order to remain safe; really well done.

I appreciate the topics covered within this story. They’re so important and need to be discussed. Things like gender, identity, culture, immigration and sexism.

Garber explored these elements in great detail within the story and those aspects were my favorite parts of the book.

Unfortunately, I didn’t feel compelled or attached to the YA Fantasy storyline. It’s funny because it contains some of my favorite tropes, magical school setting and a competition element.

I think honestly, I did myself a disservice by reading this pretty much concurrently with the Akata Witch duology. I knew it too, I could tell by about 50-pages into this one.

They are so similar. We follow teenage female protagonists, who due to a specific physical abnormality stand apart from their peers, discover they are part of a magical world based on the lore and legend of their particular culture, begin training in a magic school setting, but are a little behind their magical peers since they discover their powers at an older age, both excel at a sport that girls aren’t traditionally expected to excel at; the list goes on an on.

For me personally, I love the Akata Witch books so much and in comparison, this one just didn’t shine as bright.

Perhaps that is unfair of me to say, however, I do rate books based upon my experience reading them and while this is a good story, the pacing issues caused it to fall short of the, really good, category for me.

With all of this being said, again, I appreciate the content and important topics that Garber tackles within these pages.

This is a necessary story and I’m extremely glad it exists and is out there in the world for people read. So many people love this story and have written glowing reviews. I agree it is a good book and feel like everyone should give it a shot!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and will, in fact, read the next book upon its release!

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Review: Straight On Till Morning (Twisted Tales) by Liz Braswell

Straight On Till MorningStraight On Till Morning by Liz Braswell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Meg’s current ratings for the Twisted Tales series:

1. Reflection (Mulan): 4-stars
2. As Old As Time (Beauty & the Beast): 3.5-stars rounded up
3. Straight on Till Morning (Peter Pan): 3.5-stars rounded up
4. Mirror, Mirror (Snow White): 3.5-stars rounded up
5. Unbirthday (Alice in Wonderland): 3.5-stars
6. Conceal, Don’t Feel (Frozen): 3.5-stars
7. A Whole New World (Aladdin): 3-stars
8. Part of Your World (The Little Mermaid): 2-stars

In this twisted version of Peter Pan, we follow Wendy Darling, who though she has written many stories of Peter Pan and his escapades with the Lost Boys, she has never actually met him or been to Neverland.

However, Peter has sat many a night outside of the window to the nursery, listening to Wendy’s stories. On one such night, he accidentally leaves behind his shadow.

Wendy keeps his shadow, tucking it away in a drawer, and when she stumbles upon Captain Hook, she uses it as a bargaining chip to gain passage upon the Jolly Roger on a voyage to Neverland.

Unsurprisingly, Hook has more sinister plans in mind than he lets on to Wendy, however, and now Neverland’s entire existence is in jeopardy.

Upon discovering Hook’s true intentions, Wendy must work with a tiny and surprising ally, Tinkerbell, in order to correct her mistake.

What was she thinking trusting a pirate!?

Overall, I enjoyed this installment. There were some spots that felt a little slow, but mostly it kept me quite entertained.

I really loved the development of Wendy’s character. She is 16-years old here, on the cusp of adulthood, dealing with her parent’s expectations.

She’s not ready to enter womanhood in the way they would like her too. She finds it unnerving.

Her romp through Neverland is her last ditch effort to hold onto the carefree time of her youth.

If fact, that theme arises a lot, with Captain Hook also struggling with his lost boyhood.

In addition to the exploration of the shift your life can take as you grow older, I also enjoyed the evolution of the relationship between Wendy and Tinkerbell.

Tink and Wendy’s relationship, as we know it, was often steeped in jealousy and petty acts of sabotage.

While that is how it begins here as well, we also see the two of them growing to understand and ultimately, even care for one other. I thought that growth was very well executed by Braswell.

For fans of Peter Pan, I think this will be a lovely take on the original. It’s definitely worth at least picking it up and giving it a shot.

As always, I am looking forward to seeing what stories Disney chooses to twist next!!!

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Review: The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant

The Court of Miracles (Court of Miracles, #1)The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

Set in the tumultuous time of 1828 Paris, after the Revolution has failed, the city is divided into the royal court, and nine criminal guilds.

Our protagonist, Nina Th√©nardier, is a young member of the Thieves Guild. Nina is a skilled thief, who has spent her life flying under everyone’s radar.

After her abusive father sells her older sister to the Master of Flesh, the Tiger, Nina desperately wants to save her, but never gets the opportunity.

While living on the streets, Nina gains a new sister, a sister of choice, little and beautiful, Ettie.

Unfortunately, Ettie is such a pretty girl, that she becomes dangerous to be around, for the Tiger has set his sights on her as well.

Nina then dedicates the majority of her time to keeping Ettie out of the monster’s hands. She has to get creative and make some unsavory allies, but she is willing to do whatever it takes to keep the young girl safe.

The Court of Miracles is a fast-paced romp through a fantastical and historical Paris.

The backdrop was dirt, grim, danger and intrigue. Nina’s world is definitely a dangerous one, but she throws herself full force into the game of the underground.

Although Nina seems extremely bold, I think it was more that she had nothing to lose. Ettie was literally her only connection in the entire world.

While many aspects of this were interesting, there was something about the flow that was off for me.

I felt like the structure was: set scene, problem, resolution, next scene, problem, resolution, next scene. It just had a choppy quality to it, in my opinion.

I’m probably not explaining this correctly, but to me, it lacked a smooth narrative flow.

In addition to that, I didn’t have a good hold over time in this story. When it started, Nina was very, very young, but at the end, she’s not.

There was one point where I think a couple of years had passed, but it wasn’t entirely clear. I felt like time was progressing along rapidly, but I had no idea how much time between different sections. Maybe I was missing something on my ARC?

I think it is important to point out that I have never read Les Miserables, or watched any movie or television adaptations. Therefore, I cannot comment on this story as a reimagining of that tale.

There were moments where I felt like I had no idea what was going on. I wonder if I would have gotten a lot more out of it if I had read the original source material?

Overall, I did think this was a fun story. I enjoyed very much the different criminal guilds and the dynamics between them. I found that extremely interesting.

I would absolutely consider picking up the next book in the series. I’m not sure where this story can go from here, but Kester Grant is clearly very imaginative, so I trust they’ll figure it out.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Knopf Young Readers, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review.

I had a lot of fun with it!

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Review: The Light Between Worlds

The Light Between WorldsThe Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Light Between Worlds is a much more complicated story than I anticipated. There’s a lot to unpack here.

If you’re expecting a light YA portal Fantasy, you’re wrong. This is a deep dive into codependency, mental health, guilt and trauma.

Broken into two distinct sections, this book follows sisters, Evelyn and Phillipa, and their complex, codependent relationship.

During WWII, the girls, along with their brother, Jamie, cowered in a London bomb shelter during a ferocious air raid. Somehow, whilst there, they are able to flee the shelter through a portal into a fantasy world known as the Woodlands.

They remain in this new world for five years, living amongst the creatures of myth and legend.

Ultimately they return to their world, where no time has passed at all. Jamie and Phillipa are ready to be back, but Evelyn, whose heart belongs to the Woodlands, finds it close to impossible to adjust.

Every day is a struggle for her. All she wants is to return to the Woodlands, which she considers her true home.

The first half of the book follows Evelyn’s perspective exclusively. We get present day portions, as well as various flashbacks to the children’s time in the Woodlands.

Through Evelyn, we learn more about her sister, Phillipa, who has since moved to America for University.

Evelyn is clearly struggling with Phillipa’s departure. She’s like a boat set adrift. She spends a lot of her time at her private school, Saint Agatha’s, exploring the woods on her own, hoping to find the portal to return to the Woodlands.

During Evelyn’s portion of the book, I developed one opinion on who Phillipa was as a character. I had the impression that Phillipa would be meek and mild, that she was scared to live in the Woodlands and that by going to America, she was running away.

Then the second half of the book is told solely from Phillipa’s point of view. It was a true perspective shift indeed.

It quite took me by surprise. What I thought I knew was flipped on its head.

The first half of the book seems choppy and random, although beautifully written, I found it a little disjointed and confusing. However, upon reflection, I believe that was intentional to set up the state of Evelyn’s mental health.

As we meet Phillipa, we discover she is bold and steady. Not at all how I expected. Evelyn is the one who is scared. She is afraid to live in the real world, where she suffered so much trauma, and was actually escaping into the fantastical world of the Woodlands.

When Phillipa receives a call from her brother, Jamie, she knows it is not going to be good news. She has been so worried about Evelyn, having cut herself off from her, and indeed, the news does concern her sister.

It appears Evelyn has gone missing and Phillipa must return to aid in the search.

Y’all this is a heart-breaking story. Once it starts to evolve, it’s so compelling. I couldn’t put this down once I figured out where it was going and what it was really about.

Please read the content warnings at the bottom of the synopsis before you pick this up. It certainly was much deeper, and more intricate, than I ever would have guessed in regards to trauma, PTSD, depression, and suicidal ideation.

I felt the relationship between Evelyn and Phillipa was incredibly crafted. Their codependent relationship was one of the best I have ever read. It definitely reminded me mildly of The Wicker King. If you enjoyed that book, you would probably also really enjoy this.

This is one of those books that the longer I sit with it, the more I gain an appreciation for how well-written it actually is. Weymouth made some very clever choices with how she told this story.

The Light Between Worlds is so much more than your run of the mill, YA Fantasy, so if you like stories with a bit of depth and real world bite to them, you should absolutely give this one a go.

Just keep in mind, though the writing is beautiful, this story is very heavy. Be prepared.

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Review: Akata Witch (Akata Witch #1) by Nnedi Okorafor

Akata Witch (Akata Witch, #1)Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

Nnedi Okorafor’s, Akata Witch, is an absolute treat for any YA or Middle Grade Reader who loves a magical school trope!

I was absolutely blown away by how invested I became in this story. The lore, the action, the relationships were all beautifully done.

Sunny, a 12-year old albino girl, who recently moved from New York city to Aba, Nigeria, has a hard-time fitting in. When people look at her, they seem to immediately pass judgement on her because she looks different.

At school, there are some kids she always seems to be butting heads with.

The one person who seems to accept her, full stop, is a boy named Orlu. They begin spending time together and he introduces her to a vibrant girl named, Chichi.

Chichi doesn’t go to their school as she is home-schooled by her Mom.

When Sunny first goes to Chichi’s home, she’s astounded by the number of books. The house itself seems to be built of books and on such interesting topics.

It is through Orlu and Chichi, and their afternoons together, that Sunny ultimately learns of the Leopard People, a group of magical individuals living amongst them.

Sunny is then told, that she herself, is one of these people. It is then that Sunny’s education truly begins.

Orlu and Chichi have been learning about their gifts as Leopard People for a while, so Sunny starts out a little behind.

In spite of this, she learns quickly and begins to relish her new found powers.

Together the three kids are joined by Sasha, a boy from America, and they form the youngest Oha Coven ever.

They are tasked with hunting down a serial killer, Black Hat Otokoto, kidnapping and killing children in their area.

The fearsome-foursome go head-to-head against some truly dark forces to try to protect life as we know it.

I loved this friend group so much. Their relationships blossomed over the course of the story and I grew to love each and every one of them.

I loved how Okorafor weaved the magical realm seamlessly into our own world. It was so believable. It made me believe anyway.

If you are someone who loves a strong friendship group, coming together in the face of evil, with magic, heart and humor, you absolutely need to pick this book up.

It’s so much from the very start. Super engaging, full of action and interesting characters.

I also loved the the way the folklore and legends were introduced into the story. I thought it was such a clever format for learning about the world.

I will absolutely be picking up the next book, Akata Warrior, very soon.

Is this really only going to be a duology? I feel like there is so much room this story to grow. I never want to say goodbye to Sunny, Orlu, Chichi or Sasha. Damn. I’m getting emotional already and I’ve only read the first book…

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Blog Tour: Queen of Volts (The Shadow Game #3) by Amanda Foody

Heyyyy, Book Friends! Hello!

Today I am here to chat about one of my most anticipated books of the year, Amanda Foody’s,¬†Queen of Volts, the third and final installment of¬†The Shadow Game¬†trilogy.

Queen of Volts is published by Inkyard Press and was released on September 1st.

As I generally do with series I love, I am taking my sweet time with this final book. It is a frequent habit of mine to put off final books for months, even years sometimes, just because I am not ready to say goodbye to the characters, or the world.

After being asked to join the Blog Tour for this release, I knew I couldn’t put it off. I really wanted to take part in the celebration of a series I LOVE!!!

I am 50% through this currently and already my heart is aching. I swear, Inkyard Press is out to get me this year. On March 31, 2020, they published the final book in my other favorite YA Fantasy series, Shadow of the Fox, by Julie Kagawa. I’m still recovering, y’all.

If you have never heard of The Shadow Game trilogy, which consists of Ace of Shades, King of Fools, and this novel, Queen of Volts, let me sum it up for you real quick; or at least try. This YA Fantasy is set in a City of Sin called New Reynes. Think Las Vegas, but with magic. The narrative follows a group of well-rounded, edgy characters, who essentially rule the underworld of the city.

There is a ton of political strategy and maneuvering, power plays, dangerous games and beautiful, complex friendships, as well as ruthless ambitions and cunning. I cannot express enough how much this series feeds my soul. It really has everything I love; it’s like Macbeth on steroids.

There is quite a wide cast of characters to follow over the course of the trilogy and it is told from multiple perspectives. I think Foody really excelled at developing the characters. The arcs and growth within them all as the series unfolds, and I do mean all of the characters, not just the main characters, is incredibly well done.

My favorite evolution is that of our main female protagonist, Enne Salta. At the start of the first book, Ace of Shades, Enne is just arriving in New Reynes on a search for her mother, who had recently gone missing.

When Enne arrives, she is straight out of finishing school and the seedy environment of New Reynes is a huge culture shock for her. I love how instead of being scared, she sinks her teeth in and with each book grows stronger and more confident, to the point where you can barely recognize the naive girl who first stumbled onto the scene in Book 1.

Like Enne, the books in this trilogy continue to grow stronger with each release. Additionally, they continue to surprise me, which is such a treat. Foody definitely knows how to draw the Reader in and keep them invested. With this book, each chapter is filling me with dread, at this point, I have no idea how this is going to end!

There is so much suspense. I just need all of my babies to be okay. New Reynes is a dangerous place and at the point I am at in the story, the stakes are higher than ever.

I highly recommend this series. If you have yet to pick it up, now is the time. This is the perfect story for binge-reading and I know I will be rereading it in its entirety again someday!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Inkyard Press, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review, as well as including me in the Blog Tour. I have received early copies of this entire trilogy and have been on the front lines of singing its praises. I appreciate it so much!

As I said above, I have no idea how this one is going to turn out, but you better believe you can find my full review here once I finish it!

Queen of Volts¬†is available now, as are the other two books in the trilogy. Pick them up and make a weekend of it. You won’t regret it!

 

 

 

 

 

Review: Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

Where Dreams Descend (Kingdom of Cards, #1)Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**2.5-stars rounded up**

Where Dreams Descend is sadly my Serpent & Dove of 2020.

A book that everyone else seems to be loving and I’m over here like…

As with S&D, I really didn’t start to enjoy this until around the 80% point. Unlike S&D however, I am not sure if I will even care to pick up the sequel when it releases.

I’m sad about it. I had such high hopes for this, but unfortunately this story just didn’t work for me.

The story begins with our protagonist, Kallia, working as a performer in a club, The Hellfire House, owned by the mysterious, Jack.

She has larger plans for herself, however, and sets her sights on a magical competition set to be held in the nearby city of Glorian.

In order to enter, something a woman wouldn’t normally do, she must first break free of Jack and Hellfire House.

Making her way through the cursed woods alone, Kallia does make it to the city and promptly meets a young man, Aaros, who immediately becomes her best friend, confidant and stage assistant. He also became, in my opinion, the best character in the book.

As with any competition, there must be judges. Enter romantic interest, Daron DeMarco, a retired stage magician himself, who becomes enchanted with Kallia and her power.

There are other competitors as well, but of course, Kallia far exceeds them all, both in performance powers and overall everything else.

Once the magical competition begins, it becomes clear, something is off in the city of Glorian.

Other competitors go missing, or are severely injured and Kallia begins to be haunted in her rooms.

In spite of the chaos, the show must go on and Kallia is determined to win. DeMarco watches anxiously from the sidelines as she continually tries to one up her competition.

While this Dark Magical Fantasy has a lot of elements that should have worked for me, it just didn’t. It felt disjointed and like nothing was really happening, even though on page, plenty was.

I know that makes no sense, but it was like the dramatic plot points didn’t really matter. It was nothing I cared about or felt compelled to know more about.

Kallia was one of the most arrogant characters I have ever read. I understand she was ambitious and needed to be portrayed as strong, but it’s hard to have an arc showing any growth when the character already claims to know it all.

Not only was she eons above any of the other contestants, she was also more skilled than anyone else in the world.

Okay, enough about that. I think it is fairly clear how I feel about Kallia.

On a brighter note, DeMarco and Aaros were both saving graces for me. DeMarco was quite interesting. I loved his quiet humility and learning more about his backstory.

Some of the dark moments interested me as well. There were some sections involving mirrors, or the characters being magically trapped within the town, that I found compelling; I wish there had been more of that.

As mentioned above, around the 80% point, I started to feel like the flow was a lot stronger and I liked where the relationship between Kallia and DeMarco was going.

Unfortunately, enjoying only 20% of a book, isn’t enough for me to be able to give it a higher rating.

I do think that the story left off in a great place. I’m not sure if I will pick the sequel up or not, but I will definitely keep it in mind for when the time comes.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. Although this didn’t work for me, I am definitely in the minority!

((The World to Me)):

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Blog Tour: Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

Hello my lovely book friends!

Let’s chat about Where Dreams Descend, shall we?¬†This is the first book in Janella Angeles debut fantasy duology, Kingdom of Cards. Where Dreams Descend is releasing this Tuesday, August 25, 2020!

The publisher summarizes it as follows:

In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.

As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.

The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost

The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told

The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide

Where Dreams Descend is the startling and romantic first book in Janella Angeles’ debut Kingdom of Cards fantasy duology where magic is both celebrated and feared, and no heart is left unscathed.

I am currently 50% through this story and I’m interested to see how it turns out. Hoping it starts to pick up a bit soon, as it has been a slow burn thus far.

I would recommend this novel to anyone trying to get into YA Fantasy, maybe someone who hasn’t read a lot of Fantasy series or duologies before. This could be a good place to start.

Also, if you love content involving magical circuses or performing magicians, this is definitely one you should check out!

I am planning to spend the majority of my day today continuing on with this story. I will definitely update you as I progress along and will be posting a full review when finished.

Be sure to look at your favorite local retailer or online bookstore for this gorgeous book!

Thank you to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy of this magical tale to read and review. I appreciate it!