ARC Review: Fanning the Flames by Chris Cannon

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Bryn McKenna has it all. Even though she’s a hybrid dragon, she’s finally fitting in the new shape-shifting dragon world that’s become her own. But her grandparent’s want to ruin everything by making Bryn’s nightmare of an arranged marriage to Jaxon Westgate a reality. It doesn’t help that Jaxon’s father is on a witch hunt for Rebel sympathizers and Bryn finds herself in his line of fire.

If she doesn’t say “I do,” she’ll lose everything. Good-bye flying. Good-bye best friends. Good-bye magic. But if she bends to her grandparents’ will and agrees to marry Jaxon she’ll lose the love of her life—her knight.

review3/5 Stars 

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via Entangled and NetGalley

Fanning the Flames is the 4th book in the Going Down in Flames series and unfortunately, my least favorite so far. The story picks up right where Trial by Fire left off, Valmont and Bryn in a complex but joyous relationship, Bryn and Jaxon engaged but with a plan to make it work with their respective romantic partners, the dragon world recovering after the attack on the school dance. Everything is uncertain, but the one thing that seems solid is the way each couple feels about each other. 

Here’s the thing, I never want to say a story is too happy or too romantic or anything like that, but when there’s not a balance between the romance and the major plotline, it feels tired and slows down the pacing. While I love Valmont and Bryn, Bryn’s head was always on wondering about Valmont, about their relationship, getting jealous, etc., that the major tunnel mysteries were rushed and cut off and occasionally felt like filler because the romance played such a huge role in this book. You almost forget that there are politics, terrorists, and attacks happening. There were three heart-stopping scenes that should have had a killer impact on the reader, and while the final scene did tug at my heartstrings, it was nowhere near the emotional carnage that should have played out and I think it’s because focus was pretty much soley on Bryn and Valmont and the other characters were neglected and fleeting. 

That final scene should have been devastating, but honestly, it needed to happen to refresh the story. 

The battle description, the gore, the fighting, the tension was A+ as usual. Definitely edge of your seat material. And Bryn was beyond fierce. She raged, she conquered, she slayed. 

The underground tunnels were interesting. I enjoyed the history and the knight stories that shed light on the past-it’s its own mythology.

While this might not seem like a positive review, it is. I enjoyed this book, I wanted to read it, and I will continue to follow the story, especially after that explosive ending. I just wanted more. It felt surface level. 

Lovely reading, 

Jordan

Release Day Blitz: Fanning the Flames by Chris Cannon

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Bryn McKenna has it all, including her smoking-hot knight turned live-in boyfriend, Valmont. Even though she’s a hybrid dragon, she’s finally fitting into the new shape-shifting dragon world that’s become her own. But her grandparents want to ruin everything by making Bryn’s nightmare of an arranged marriage to Jaxon Westgate a reality. It doesn’t help that Jaxon’s father is on a witch hunt for Rebel sympathizers and Bryn finds herself in his line of fire.
If she doesn’t say, “I do,” she’ll lose everything. Good-bye flying. Good-bye best friends. Good-bye magic. But if she bends to her grandparents’ will and agrees to marry Jaxon, she’ll lose the love of her life—her knight.
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Award winning author Chris Cannon lives in Southern Illinois with her husband and her three dogs, Pete the shih tzu who sleeps on her desk while she writes, Molly the ever-shedding yellow lab, and Tyson the sandwich-stealing German Shepherd Beagle. She believes coffee is the Elixir of Life. Most evenings after work, you can find her sucking down caffeine and writing fire-breathing paranormal adventures and snarky contemporary romance.
Epic reading,
Jordan

Team Urban: 100 Words on Why Urban Fantasy is Awesome from Entangled Authors

Team Urban: Why I Love Urban Fantasy!

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Brenda Drake – Guardian of Secrets (Library Jumpers, #2):

I’m such a fan of Urban Fantasy for many reasons, but mostly because writers can take our normal world and, either secret or not, add a dash of the fantastical to it. With mystical creatures hiding from humans or living side by side with them, deliciously nefarious things can happen. There’s just something extraordinary about urban fantasy. It’s the ability of the writer to look at something normal in the human world and mix it up. Changing a simple book into something that can transport someone from library to library or hiding a zoo of magical beasts in a common suitcase.

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Being a Sentinel isn’t all fairytales and secret gardens. Sure, jumping through books into the world’s most beautiful libraries to protect humans from mystical creatures is awesome. No one knows that better than Gia Kearns, but she could do without the part where people are always trying to kill her. Oh, and the fact that Pop and her had to move away from her friends and life as she knew it.

And if that isn’t enough, her boyfriend, Arik, is acting strangely. Like, maybe she should be calling him “ex,” since he’s so into another girl. But she doesn’t have time to be mad or even jealous, because someone has to save the world from the upcoming apocalypse, and it looks like that’s going to be Gia.

Guardian of Secrets

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Chris Cannon – Fanning the Flames (Going Down in Flames, #4):

1. There are no maidens that need to be rescued in urban fantasy. More than likely the females are the ones kicking ass.
2. I love the snarky banter that occurs when you throw modern day characters into strange/magical/supernatural circumstances.
3. Anything is possible in urban fantasy. There are no rules about what types of paranormal creatures you can have. If you want to create dragons that breathe fire, ice, wind, sonic waves, and lightning, you can, just like I did in Going Down In Flames *cough cough shameless self promotion

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She isn’t afraid of anything…except losing the knight she loves. Bryn McKenna has it all, including her smoking-hot knight turned live-in boyfriend, Valmont. Even though she’s a hybrid dragon, she’s finally fitting into the new shape-shifting dragon world that’s become her own. But her grandparents want to ruin everything by making Bryn’s nightmare of an arranged marriage to Jaxon Westgate a reality. It doesn’t help that Jaxon’s father is on a witch hunt for Rebel sympathizers and Bryn finds herself in his line of fire.

If she doesn’t say, “I do,” she’ll lose everything. Good-bye flying. Good-bye best friends. Good-bye magic. But if she bends to her grandparents’ will and agrees to marry Jaxon, she’ll lose the love of her life—her knight.

Fanning the Flames

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Shonna Slayton – Spindle:

Urban fantasy reminds me that our own world is magical. We are so used to the way our world works that we take for granted how incredible it is that our heart beats, our brain imagines, that our eyes see color.

As a writer, urban fantasy allows me to open up my imagination on multiple planes. I still work with the real world, but I get to add layers onto that. It’s like going from black and white TV to color. Like Dorothy in dusty old Kansas stepping into the colorful land of Oz.

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In a world where fairies lurk and curses linger, love can bleed like the prick of a finger…

Briar Rose knows her life will never be a fairy tale. She’s raising her siblings on her own, her wages at the spinning mill have been cut, and the boy she thought she had a future with has eyes for someone else. Most days it feels like her best friend, Henry Prince, is the only one in her corner…though with his endless flirty jokes, how can she ever take him seriously?

When a mysterious peddler offers her a “magic” spindle that could make her more money, sneaking it into the mill seems worth the risk. But then one by one, her fellow spinner girls come down with the mysterious sleeping sickness…and Briar’s not immune.

If Briar wants to save the girls—and herself—she’ll have to start believing in fairy tales…and in the power of a prince’s kiss.

Spindle

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Tara Fuller – Inbetween (Kissed by Death, #1):

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Death doesn’t fall in love. Usually. Since the car crash that took her father’s life three years ago, Emma’s life has been a freaky—and unending—lesson in caution. Surviving “accidents” has taken priority over being a normal seventeen-year-old, so Emma spends her days taking pictures of life instead of living it. Falling in love with a boy was never part of the plan. Falling for a reaper who makes her chest ache and her head spin? Not an option.

It’s not easy being dead, especially for a reaper in love with a girl fate has put on his list not once, but twice. Finn’s fellow reapers give him hell about spending time with Emma, but Finn couldn’t let her die before, and he’s not about to let her die now. He will protect the girl he loves from the evil he accidentally unleashed, even if it means sacrificing the only thing he has left…his soul.

Inbetween

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Danielle Ellison – Salt (Salt, #1):

Whether it’s witches, demons, ghosts or other types monsters, there’s nothing like escaping the sometimes mundane reality of our world, or giving what we know every day a spice of fantasy. Filled with kick-ass heroines who aren’t afraid to fight for what they believe in (and hot, just-as-fierce love interests) Urban Fantasy inspires you look beyond what you see and be more than you think you can be. Plus, life is more with some magic: more dangerous, more unpredictable, more chaotic, more fun.

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Penelope is a witch, part of a secret society protecting humans from demon attacks. But when she was a child, a demon killed her parents—and stole her magic. Since then, she’s been pretending to be something she’s not, using her sister’s magic to hide her own loss, to prevent being sent away.

When she’s finally given the chance to join the elite demon-hunting force, Penelope thinks that will finally change. With her sister’s help, she can squeeze through the tests and get access to the information she needs to find “her” demon. To take back what was stolen.

Then she meets Carter. He’s cute, smart, and she can borrow his magic, too. He knows her secret—but he also has one of his own.

Suddenly, Penelope’s impossible quest becomes far more complicated. Because Carter’s not telling her everything, and it’s starting to seem like the demons have their own agenda…and they’re far too interested in her.

Salt

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Rachel Harris – My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century (My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century, #1):

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On the precipice of her sixteenth birthday, the last thing lone wolf Cat Crawford wants is an extravagant gala thrown by her bubbly stepmother and well-meaning father. So even though Cat knows the family’s trip to Florence, Italy, is a peace offering, she embraces the magical city and all it offers. But when her curiosity leads her to an unusual gypsy tent, she exits…right into Renaissance Firenze.

Thrust into the sixteenth century armed with only a backpack full of contraband future items, Cat joins up with her ancestors, the sweet Alessandra and protective Cipriano, and soon falls for the gorgeous aspiring artist Lorenzo. But when the much-older Niccolo starts sniffing around, Cat realizes that an unwanted birthday party is nothing compared to an unwanted suitor full of creeptastic amore. Can she find her way back to modern times before her Italian adventure turns into an Italian forever?

My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century

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Gloria Craw – Atlantis Rising (Atlantis Rising, #1):

I love Urban Fantasy because it infuses normal life with myth and magic. It’s so exciting to have something in common with a character who finds a magic object, special ability or a secret origin. The possible ways her courage and passion might be tested are endless. When she does triumph against fantastic odds, I’m left feeling inspired and reassured that I can overcome great obstacles in my everyday life too. Urban Fantasy reminds me that the ordinary in us can sometimes be…extraordinary.

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We’ve stayed hidden too long… I am different. I have always been different, but no one can know or my life will be in danger. So I hide in plain sight, wearing drab clothes and thick glasses and trying to be invisible. I’m so good at hiding, no one has ever noticed me. Until Ian…the mysterious and oh-so-cute boy I know I need to avoid.

Now I have been seen. And more terrifying still, I am wanted—by those who would protect me and those who would destroy everything and everyone I love. But if they’re all terrified about who I am, wait until they see what I can do…

Atlantis Rising

Fantastic reading, 

Jordan

Release Day Blitz: Wilder by Lena North

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Wilder’s wonderful grandfather is dead, and so is her mother, but Grandpa Willy gives her one final gift in his will – the knowledge that her father is only her step-father.
 
Once she meets Hawker, the scary man who turns out to be her real dad, her life takes an unexpected turn. She finds out about a heritage she never knew she had, and secrets from the past are uncovered as she fights to save her part of the world from destruction.
 
And then there’s Mac, with his green eyes and a soft voice that flows through her like sweet honey. He’s there to help Wilder when she needs it the most, and as she struggles with how to fit into the group of people around her dad – having Mac in her life becomes more important with every bad thing that happens.
 
“Wilder” is the first in the Birds of a Feather series and a spin-off from the Dreughan trilogy. It’s set in modern time and can be read stand-alone.
 Excerpt“Let him go, Wilder,” a deep, gravelly voice rumbled.
 
Slowly, I turned my head to the side and realized immediately that I had been so very wrong. My father was not a fat loser of a drunk sitting in a corner drinking cheap whiskey.
 
My father was a tall, scary man with long, pitch black hair and tattoos slithering down his arms from under a tight t-shirt that showed off a lean muscular body. I realized another mistake I’d made. I’d thought that he wouldn’t know who I was since I didn’t look at all like my mother, but the man in front of me would recognize me anywhere because, except for the color of our hair, I looked just like him. It was like looking at a weird mirror where my face stared back at me from a man much older than me. He seemed calm, unnervingly so, but the two men at his sides were scowling angrily. At me? Or at the drunken man on the floor?
 
“I’ll deal with Doug. Let him go now,” he ordered calmly.
 
“Shit,” the man beneath me whispered. “You’re Wilder?”
 
“Shut up, Doug,” one of the two men flanking my father said quietly.
 
Slowly, I let go of the man, and he scrambled to his feet quickly, cowering as he approached the three men standing side by side, hands on their hips.
 
“I’m sorry, had no clue, wouldn’t have -”
 
My father’s eyes flicked to the side, one eyebrow went up slightly, but then he looked back at me. This was clearly an order because one of the men immediately moved over, grabbed Doug’s arm and led him away.
 
“Willy’s gone then?”
 
At first, I was surprised by the question, but then I understood. Willy had known this man. And he’d known him well enough to share the contents of his will, had told him that I’d know the truth once he was gone.
 
“Yeah,” I whispered hoarsely.
 
“Do you know who I am?”
 
I stared at him. Did he think I was stupid? Slowly, I pulled off my sunglasses and stretched them out in the general direction of where I thought Mickey would be. He took them, and when he did, he squeezed my hand a little. This calmed me down, and I raised my chin, holding my father’s eyes. Eyes that were the same freakishly yellow color as my own.
 
“I buried my grandfather and my mother this morning. Then I went to the attorney’s office and heard how Paolo Fratinelli became the owner of everything except our ranch and a small house in this village. Next thing, Paolo told me that he isn’t my father and that I should go to this place to find the man who was. So yeah… It’s been one of the worst days of my life. But I know who you are,” I said, slowly and succinctly.
author
The proper way to put it here would probably be to describe how I love to play with our two big dogs, adore my fantastic daughters and how much I love to read.
 
Another way would be to use my imagination and then I would be a super powerful warrior woman, think Xena the warrior princess (though with less tacky clothes). Or when I think of it, maybe I’m actually more of a Hercule Poirot (sans the suit and moustache). Or maybe I’m like Aragorn, strong and cool and then I might get to meet Gandalf! Or I could be Bella’s pretty cousin and snap Jacob up in a second (yeah, I’m so not team Edward), or wait, maybe I could be like one of them heroines in historical novels who swoon all the time. I’ve always wanted to swoon…
 
Well, I guess you get how my mind is working (or not working, some say). Anyways, I like to write. Stories, adventures, romantic and happy stuff mixed up with sorrow and hardship, and bit of laughter here and there because the way I see it – life is way too short to go around feeling grumpy.
 
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Fantastic reading, 
Jordan

Blog Tour & Excerpt: The Lost Codex by Heather Lyons

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Allies, once inseparable, splinter until they break apart.

An insidiousness carves its way through Wonderland, challenging the land’s very existence.

Battle lines will be drawn as pages, long languishing in darkness, are finally illuminated.

Swords will clash, blood will be spilled, and lives will be lost.

For what is written can still be erased.

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“You mentioned the need to take a symbolic object within the dream,” I say as I hover over his work, “one I must destroy. Yet, you have given no instruction on what that object must be.”

He nudges his half-moon glasses up his bulbous nose, barely sparing a glance toward me. “I did.”

Which means I must figure it out myself. I do not bother asking how one even brings an object into their dream, as I can already guess his answer.

What, then, would sufficiently constitute symbolic for a series of dreams I cannot remember? In place of images, all I possess are deep-seated emotions that refuse to relinquish their hold on me. Including a maddening sense of love . . . love for a nameless man whose face I cannot conjure.

Why can I not recall his face?

Perhaps a blank mask will do? Destroy the mask, terminate a passion for an imaginary person for whom I have assigned preposterous feelings for.

Epic reading, 

Jordan

 

Release Day Blitz: The Lost Codex by Heather Lyons

codexreleasedaybannerthelostcodex_ebook_450x675Amazon US | Amazon UK | iBooks

synAllies, once inseparable, splinter until they break apart.

An insidiousness carves its way through Wonderland, challenging the land’s very existence.

Battle lines will be drawn as pages, long languishing in darkness, are finally illuminated.

Swords will clash, blood will be spilled, and lives will be lost.

For what is written can still be erased.

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PURCHASE PREVIOUS BOOKS IN THE SERIES

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author
heather_front_headshotWebsite | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | Amazon | Newsletter

Heather Lyons is known for writing epic, heartfelt love stories often with a fantastical twist. From Young Adult to New Adult to Adult novels—one commonality in all her books is the touching, and sometimes heart-wrenching, romance. In addition to writing, she’s also been an archaeologist and a teacher.She and her husband and children live in sunny Southern California and are currently working their way through every cupcakery she can find.

Fantastic reading, 

Jordan

Theme Reviews: What We’ll Do For Blood by C.L. Mannarino and Descent by Sloane Murphy

THE THEME IS VAMPIRES. THE FIRST IS A YA SORT OF SUBURBAN FANTASY, THE SECOND IS A YA PARANORMAL DYSTOPIAN. 

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In the sleepy town of Northam, Massachusetts, not everyone is who they seem to be. 



Take Scott Whitney, for example. A struggling high school senior, Scott wants nothing more than to have his much-divided, social-climbing family believe him when he comes to them with something important, no matter how often he disregards their rules. 



One night, Scott catches his father’s beautiful colleague, Maria, drinking his father’s blood in their office parking lot. When his father has no recollection of this event, and gets weaker the more he spends time with Maria, Scott turns to his mother and sister for help. When he realizes that Maria has captured their hearts and minds, as well, Scott has to find a way to believe in himself, and become more than anyone thought he was capable of, in order to stop her.

But what will it cost him?

What We’ll Do for Blood is the first book in a series of young adult supernatural novels. If you like heart-racing action, highly-driven characters, and strong family ties, then you’ll love C.L. Mannarino’s visceral vision of a world where the supernatural is very much alive.

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***I received this ebook as a gift in exchange for an honest review via the author 

Let me preface this review by saying that I think someone who is looking for a more adult vampire story minus the hyper sexualization that’s found in many adult vampire urban fantasies would like this a lot. Unfortunately, I was not a fan and DNF’d this at 30% or so. 

What We’ll Do For Blood features a diverse cast of characters of many ethnic groups and social classes. There’s a strongly defined line between the upper suburban and those who are more middle class. The world is thoroughly outlined, though occasionally I questioned the time period. 

The pacing drove me crazy. Some points were unbearably slow and so full of description that I skimmed. Nothing happened for nearly 100 pages. The things that did happen, that caused me to throw up my guard and question Maria, were TOO subtle and really not enough to heighten the anticipation. Had they been amped up a little more, it would have increased the anxiety and foreboding. The story got lost as it lagged. 

Some things made hardly any sense at all. There are references to how nice Maria is from Scott and she’s a terrible person, like a serious jerk to him. There’s one scene that was so repulsive and rude that I have no clue how Scott went from that to Maria is so nice again. Sure, Maria has some sort of hypnotic gaze or something that puts people under a spell, but like I said above, so subtle that comments and reactions like this are frustrating. 

I couldn’t connect with Scott or any of the characters really. I sympathized with Scott because he is under a lot of pressure to conform to a specific image for his family, but he does nothing to help his cause. Like he knows he needs to do certain things and he’s like nope and then wonders why people get annoyed. The references to his weight really bothered me and then I laughed pretty hard because 150 pounds is massive I guess. I just…the development was hindered by the slow pace. There wasn’t much room for growth or really forming a solid connection with any of the characters. Scott’s girlfriend was there in glimpses, you couldn’t really get a solid read on her, but she seems like a nice person. It was like looking at her from far, far away. 

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Six hundred years after The Outbreak, the human population stand side by side with the Fae & the Vampyrs to stop the Demon King from starting a second Dark War.

Seventeen year old Adelaide Tate is in her last year of the Academy, with her eyes set on becoming part of the Red Guard.

Who cares that no female has ever joined?

When a dark force develops an unhealthy liking for her, Adelaide needs to fight for her life and figure out what makes her so different from the others.

Betrayal. Fear. Anger.

She must overcome it all in order to turn her world the right way around again.
Adelaide has one choice. Accept the help offered to her by Xander Bane, or face the Demon Hoard alone.

One thing is for sure. The descent will be bloody.

review

2.5/5 Stars 

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via the author 

Descent is super short. Not novella length, but I’d say about 100 pages less than the average YA paranormal. That being said, I think that had the book been longer, it would have been far more developed. This reads like a rough draft in terms of connecting the different story arcs and relationship building. The first half of the story feels like a wholly different book than the second half. There’s an abundance of telling and leaping from one scene to the next, abruptly cutting off before the scene actually builds. It almost feels like a summary. 

The world building is complex and intriguing. I love the darkness and the role of the academy. The battle scenes are INTENSE. The gore, the weapons, the feels. If the focus, as the blurb suggests, had been more on Adelaide’s quest to join the guard it would have added to this world building, but that kind of fell to the wayside with everything else going on. 

I really wish that first section had been further developed because it would have been so much more special. Don’t get me wrong, the feels are pretty strong, but not sucker punch level. This heartwarming and bittersweet friendship between Adelaide and her best friend was potent and one of the best parts of the story. They’re there for each other to balance and offset, to hold each other when they’re depressed or insecure, to give each other encouragement and soothe old wounds. The friendship is powerful. For me, there wasn’t enough of it. I would have liked more of just the girls hanging out, talking about their past, their love interests, really digging in so that the emotional connection would have been 10x stronger. 

There’s a serious case of instalove on one side, and on the other side is an over a decade long build lusting. That was pretty cool. This offsets the whole instalove aspect and shows something deeper and long-lasting. The chemistry is there and it’s HOT. Switching between two POVs you see the romance develop and grow into something profound. They way he cares for Adelaide is beautiful and oh so sexy. Sometimes it’s a little crude, a little blushworthy, but the sweetness makes up for it. 

Some plot points didn’t make sense. I kept asking myself why certain things were happening, like a specific abduction. What was the point of the whole ordeal with minimal danger only to return the character later, no harm done? It just didn’t add up. 

There are so many clues that the plot twist is expected and when it gets to the reveal, while it may be shocking for Adelaide, it certainly wasn’t for me. 

I adored the bad guys. They were layered, sympathetic, multidimensional, and full of character, life, and just all around great lines. They really livened up the story and made me want to read more…even more so than the good guys. 

Quite a few typos. 

Overall, Descent is an engaging and enjoyable dystopian with all your favorite sorts of paranormal creatures. 

If you like any of the following you’ll enjoy this:

Interesting reading, 

Jordan