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.
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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

 

Lost Reviews Series: Amity by Micol Ostow & Shadowboxer by Tricia Sullivan

PSA: Akin to the theme reviews series I started yesterday, I’ve decided to add lost reviews as well. These are the books that I’ve read, but haven’t reviewed because at the time I couldn’t put my opinions into words. Some of these books were read over a year ago and now that I have time to reflect back, my opinions are more firm. These reviews will be much shorter than my average reviews. 

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Here is a house of ruin and rage, of death and deliverance.
Here is where I live, not living.
Here is always mine.

When Connor’s family moves to Amity, a secluded house on the peaceful banks of New England’s Concord River, his nights are plagued with gore-filled dreams of demons. destruction, and revenge. Dreams he kind of likes. Dreams he could make real, with Amity’s help.

Ten years later, Gwen’s family moves to Amity for a fresh start. Instead, she’s haunted by lurid visions, disturbing voices, and questions about her own sanity. But with her history, who would ever believe her? And what could be done if they did?

Because Amity isn’t just a house. She is a living force, bent on manipulating her inhabitants to her twisted will. She will use Connor and Gwen to bring about a violent end as she’s done before. As she’ll do again. And again. And again.

Inspired by a true-crime story, Amity spans generations to weave an overlapping, interconnected tale of terror, insanity, danger, and death.

review

3/5 Stars

***I received this book as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & EgmontUSA

Amity is bone chilling, nail-biting, creepy as sin. There’s so much that will leave you reeling and breathless, uncertain of what’s going on only to hit you with something so horrific, you’ll wish you didn’t know. 

The house itself is terrifying. It has a life of it’s own that is both poetic and so disturbing. It’s alive and breathing. You feel it watching, almost as if it can leap from the pages. If you’ve read The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich, you’ll know what I mean. 

There are two stories that alternate. One 10 years in the past and one in the present. One male, one female. Both perspectives are strong. Gwen and Conner are worlds apart and yet living the same fate. They’re forced to question everything and doubt their own minds. You may doubt yours too. Sometimes the flips between POVs are trippy and confusing and throw you off. Other times, they’re eerie and oh so dark.

The pacing is moderate to slow. Some sections lag quite a bit despite the creep factor. 

I could have taken or left Conner. He couldn’t keep me invested. Gwen and Conner both talk to the reader, almost in a diary form. Even with that format, it wasn’t powerful enough. 

If you’re looking for a spooky Halloween read aloud, check this out. 

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Thai martial arts, international crime, celebrity and mythical creatures combine in this masterful new tale of two people facing incredible dangers, from award-winning author Tricia Sullivan.

Nothing she’s faced in the cage will prepare her…

Jade is a young mixed martial arts fighter. When she’s in the cage she dominates her opponents—but in real life she’s out of control.

After she has a confrontation with a Hollywood martial arts star that threatens her gym’s reputation, Jade’s coach sends her to a training camp in Thailand for an attitude adjustment. Hoping to discover herself, she instead uncovers a shocking conspiracy. In a world just beyond our own, a man is stealing the souls of children to try and live forever.

review

2.5/5 Stars

***I received this book as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Ravenstone

Shadowboxer is one of those books that had so much potential and had the two main story arcs been separate books and then later intertwined, it probably would have worked better. Instead, these two stories don’t line up like they should. It feels like two separate books. When the stories come together, it feels contrived, forced, and messy.

That being said, I liked the stories as separate entities. Give me a badass female character who speaks her mind, knows how to throw a punch, and doesn’t let anyone push her around. Jade is loud, bossy, take charge, and ready to jump in any fight for what she believes in. Jade has worked so hard to get where she is and strives for excellence in her martial arts. She’s abrasive, rude, crass, wholly herself, and doesn’t apologize for who she is and that makes her someone you can respect, even if you don’t like her. Despite these awesome qualities and the story that goes with them, I didn’t particularly like Jade. Sure she’s overcome a lot, she works for everything, and has super big dreams, but the girl is catty and rude and a mess. She doesn’t even shell out the respect she gets. 

The pacing is abysmal. Jade has a strong voice and stuff happens but it’s so slow and takes ages to get to the second story arc where they merge together. You’ll wonder as chapters alternate what exactly is going on and why it matters. Not knowing in some ways pushes you to read more and in others makes you forget everything as you struggle to piece it together. 

The second story arc in Thailand is excellent. The scenery is diverse and rich and colorful and there’s so much life in those pages. You’ll feel like you’re transported. It’s not always pretty, but it’s real and raw and sucks you in.

The soul stealing. When I read this book, I didn’t bother with the blurb-I almost never do-and so I read those sections without knowing what was happening and it kind of added to the mystery. There’s this cool shadow realm that full of Thai lore and spirituality. It’s fascinating and engaging. You’ll want that poor little girl to escape her fate. 

Overall, Shadowboxer was interesting but easy to put down and forget about. It was complicated, packed with info, and voice, but dragged too much to keep attention. 

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

Creepy reading, 

Jordan

ARC Review: The Masked Maiden by H.D. Gordon

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HERO OR VILLAIN? YOU DECIDE.

When she decided to become a vigilante, no one told 17-year-old Aria Fae about the possibility of public backlash, or the attention the media would garner by dubbing her The Masked Maiden of Grant City.

On top of this added heat, a rogue supernatural known as The Scarecrow has escaped his prison, and his history with Aria makes her the crazed warlock’s obvious target.

Now, she must face her past and defeat The Scarecrow once and for all, or die trying.
When things reach their worst, will The Masked Maiden be the hero Grant City needs, or the villain they’ve made her out to be?

review

4/5 Stars

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

I was hesitant to pick this book up because I wasn’t completely sold on the first book in the series. So I put it off for a while and rediscovered it in the process of catching up on back reviews. I’m absolutely floored. I really don’t know where to start because this is such a drastic change from book 1. I am now 100%, completely, and totally invested in this series. 

Aria Fae has always been a badass, but she’s grown so much as the story progressed, not only in maturity, but in heart and understanding. Aria’s past is highlighted. There are flashbacks and agony over her horrible childhood. The cruel way the Brokers rob the Halflings from their homes and the tasks they put them through are truly horrific. Aria as a child is just as feisty as she is now and outspoken. She doesn’t take anything from anyone, she’s a fighter from the get-go. There are moments of fear, and uncertainty, and heartbreak as seen through her young eyes and the emotions are on full chaotic display. 

The story arc is fantastic. A perfect blend of teen angst, superheroes, and serial killers. The suspense is heart stopping, the dangers will keep you on edge. Serious adrenaline rush. There were many moments where I held my breath, hoping that Aria would get there in time or make it out alive. 

The scenes with the Scarecrow are straight out of your deepest fears and worst nightmares. From the way he talks to Aria, the grotesque form of his body, the blunt descriptions of his psychotic murders. Chills. These flashbacks are particularly disturbing and sickening. Every ounce of terror rolls off the pages. 

Romance. Forget triangles. This is definitely a love rhombus. And (un)fortunately they’re all perfect. Dreamy sigh. Aria has the best luck romantically, everything else not so much. The struggle is real. Choosing between a blast from the past childhood love, a super sweet and gentle millionaire heir, and an older ex-military protector, no wonder she’s so spastic and jumps at every opportunity to escape the awkward. The feels are strong. There are many cute, passionate scenes that are both romantic and gasp-out-loud sexy. The way they look at her, happy sigh, the way they make her feel. Break out your Keats poems and put on a romantic comedy post book to recover. 

Secondary characters are as lively as ever. Each has a unique and developed story. It’s not ALL about Aria. She’s there for her friends, she’s kind, she’s awesome and epic and better than before. Her humanity is coming out and it’s glorious. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

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

Epic reading, 

Jordan