Warriors of Wing and Flame by Sara B. Larson

Title: Warriors of Wing and Flame
Author: Sara B Larson
Published: Published October 27th 2020 by Tor Teen
Indie : Andersons : Semicolon : B&N

The doorway between the magical Visempirum and the human world has been reopened. Paladin are once more living in the citadel where Zuhra and Inara grew up completely isolated by the magical hedge that trapped them there. Amidst the brewing conflict between the Paladin and humans looms the threat of Barloc, who has stolen Inara’s immense power and continues to elude the Paladin who are desperately searching for him.

In this sequel to Sisters of Shadow and Light, Inara and Zuhra must navigate the treacherous paths of self-discovery, their love for each other, and for the boys who have captured their hearts. Together, they search for the strength within themselves to bridge the divide between the two worlds they inhabit, even as war threatens to destroy everything—and everyone—they love.

I’ve really enjoyed the Sisters of Shadow and Light duology. I just found it to be really unique in it’s characters and story. Warriors of Wing and Flame wrapped thing ups nicely.

I don’t know what my deal is with Inara but I don’t exactly like her. I don’t dislike her, like I found her storyline interesting. I enjoyed her navigating her way through her new life. Not just without the roar but from what Barloc had done to her. I just kept feeling like people didn’t give Zuhra enough credit. Like Inara is Ray of Light but dude she wouldn’t be if it wasn’t for Zuhra making sacrifices for her. I don’t know. I do love the fact that the two sisters love one another so much. Especially since they have a complicated relationship with their parents and grandparents really. So it is always nice to see.

On the other hand I love Zuhra. She gives so much and really has the pure heart. I guess I do like that Zuhra and Inara compliment one another in that way. Plus it was sweet to see Zuhra’s expanding relationship with Raidyn as well as her own comfort into her own life. Both girls went from being locked away to having to be involved in some crazy epic battleness.

There is a little more of a sullen tone to this book. The characters experience loss in many different ways. Not every character even has the same things that impact them. Which is another thing that has made me really like this series. You see different personalities fitting together to create this world.

I love the world itself. It’s really interesting the magic and of course the gryphons! I don’t want to give too much away because a lot happens and I don’t want to do any spoilers.

I thought this was a great conclusion. A good duology and an enjoyable read.

You can check out my review for book one HERE
Sara B. Larson is the best-selling and critically acclaimed author of the YA fantasy DEFY trilogy (DEFY, IGNITE, and ENDURE) and the DARK BREAKS THE DAWN duology. Her next YA fantasy, SISTERS OF SHADOW AND LIGHT, comes out November 5th from Tor Teen. She can’t remember a time when she didn’t write books—although she now uses a computer instead of a Little Mermaid notebook. Sara lives in Utah with her husband, their four children, and their Maltese, Loki. She writes in brief snippets throughout the day and the quiet hours when most people are sleeping. Her husband claims she should have a degree in “the art of multitasking.” When she’s not mothering or writing, you can often find her at the gym repenting for her sugar addiction.

She’s online at www.SaraBLarson.com

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Enter to win five (5) finished copies of Warriors of Wing and Flame by Sara B. Larson! Open USA only. There will be 5 winners.

Giveaway starts: Wednesday, November 18, 2020
Giveaway ends: Wednesday, November 25, 2020 at 12:00 a.m. CDT

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Send Me Their Souls by Sara Wolf

Send Me Their Souls
Author: Sarah Wolf
Published: November 3rd 2020 by Entangled: Teen

The finale to the epic Bring Me Their Hearts series reaches its thrilling conclusion, full of intrigue, emotion, and of course romance.

Reunited with Lucien, Malachite, and Fione, Zera finally has the choice of whether or not to regain her humanity and give up her life as a Heartless. But with war raging and an army of valkerax on the loose, she’s never needed immortality more. Will they be able to stop Varia without sacrificing themselves in the process?

Send Me Their Souls is quite the ending to the Bring Me Their Hearts series. It almost felt like something separate from the rest. It continued and wrapped up the story well. It just a lot happens and a lot of world building.

I can’t remember if I felt before that this story gives me Final Fantasy vibes. I thought it would fit perfectly as an RPG game. I loved the world building and how we get to explore different cities and how they all have their unique attributes. I think the first two books were really focused on the characters and their development and this felt more focused on the world, it’s history and of course those pesky trees.

Despite that I felt that this book had a strong focus on world building, I still loved the characters. Again it’s quite the diverse crew and again I think that’s why it reminds me of a videogame. Bringing together a group that comes from different parts of the world, with different talents. We also get to know Malachite a little bit more and maybe why he’s always so prickly. Zera of course does not drop her witty banter, doesn’t matter if she has two eyes or six. The way that her and Lucien work as a team makes me so happy. I love when we drop the romance drama and see the love interest come together and work in a partnership. Also the unbreakable friendships are good to see.

I don’t want to give too much away, again it is a big book and a lot of things happen. I can’t think of any questions that were left unanswered. Well I had one and it has to do with a brain situation but it really has no impact on the story. It’s kind of like when you wonder if someone closes a door after they have opened it.

I loved Send Me Their Souls and I have loved this series. I feel like it doesn’t get as much love as it deserves. From the witty character interactions, to the engaging story and of course the interesting world. I would highly recommend picking this up if you love fantasy and want something a little more unique.

The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed

Title: The Black Kids
Author: Christina Hammonds Reed
Published: Published August 4th 2020 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Los Angeles, 1992

Ashley Bennett and her friends are living the charmed life. It’s the end of senior year and they’re spending more time at the beach than in the classroom. They can already feel the sunny days and endless possibilities of summer.

Everything changes one afternoon in April, when four LAPD officers are acquitted after beating a black man named Rodney King half to death. Suddenly, Ashley’s not just one of the girls. She’s one of the black kids.

As violent protests engulf LA and the city burns, Ashley tries to continue on as if life were normal. Even as her self-destructive sister gets dangerously involved in the riots. Even as the model black family façade her wealthy and prominent parents have built starts to crumble. Even as her best friends help spread a rumor that could completely derail the future of her classmate and fellow black kid, LaShawn Johnson.

With her world splintering around her, Ashley, along with the rest of LA, is left to question who is the us? And who is the them?
The Black Kids is a great coming of age story that really captures teenage life in the 90s. It’s impactful with its perspectives during the 1992 Rodney King trial.

This story revolves around Ashely and it’s really about her final months as a senior in high school. She’s just trying to make it through when the Rodney King trial and verdict comes down. She starts to take a different look at her life, at her friends and where she feels like she belongs. Her growth and understanding are really the center of the book. I loved Ashely because she felt like a real teenager to me. That some of her experiences, like the friends drifting apart and even the boy debacle reminded me of High School. Her mistakes don’t make her.

There are so many things in this story that reminded me of high school. There are things that happen like cheating, which I know some people do not like that in books. I know that’s a part of life, it happened to me in High School. Should it happen, of course not. Lots of things shouldn’t happen but I would hope that would not steer you from the book because that’s not the most important message here.

I really liked how there are so many different perspectives. We have Ashely who attends a predominantly white private school and her friends are also all white. There are other black students. Her sister Jo is older and believes in fighting for your rights. She also mentions communism a lot. There is Ashley’s Uncle and Cousin who live in her father’s old neighborhood. Trying to protect their family store from rioters. LaShawn is a scholarship student and star athlete. We get to see what the 1992 LA riots mean to each of this characters and I think it’s so good to read about.

The book is well written and interesting. This is one to pick up.

Court of Lions by Somaiya Daud

Title: Court of Lions
Author: Somaiya Daud
Published: August 4, 2020
Publisher: Flatiron Books

Court of Lions is the long-awaited second and final installment in the “smart, sexy, and devilishly clever” Mirage series by Somaiya Daud (Renée Ahdieh, New York Times bestselling author of The Beautiful)!

On a planet on the brink of revolution, Amani has been forced into isolation. She’s been torn from the boy she loves and has given up contact with her fellow rebels to protect her family. In taking risks for the rebel cause, Amani may have lost Maram’s trust forever. But the princess is more complex than she seems, and now Amani is once more at her capricious nature. One wrong move could see her executed for high treason.

On the eve of Maram’s marriage to Idris comes an unexpected proposal: in exchange for taking her place in the festivities, Maram will keep Amani’s rebel associations a secret. Alone and desperate, Amani is thrust into the center of the court, navigating the dangerous factions on the princess's behalf. But the court is not what she expects. As a risky plan grows in her mind, and with the rebels poised to make their stand, Amani begins to believe her world might have a future. But every choice she makes comes with a cost. Can Amani risk the ones she loves the most for a war she's not sure she can win?
This is a perfect finish to the Mirage duology. This is one of those series that I hope more people pick up and appreciate.

I love how when I’m reading about this world sometimes I feel like it’s a Fantasy and then they get into a spaceship and I’m like oh ya the Sci-Fi aspect. The two genres are so well merged that it delights me.

The story is filled with politics. After all it is a story of Maram trying to take the throne and Amani trying to save her people. I absolutely love the writing style, I think it really made this part of the story more interesting. I was fascinated by the alliances being made and the courts being navigated. I was really impressed by the different things characters said and how they operated.

As far as characters are concerned. We really see Maram and Amani bloom in their own ways. They give one another strength, even when they are at odds.

Amani character development was so great to read. Remembering her from Mirage to who she has become is just amazing. She’s drawn from her experience of being Maram’s double. As herself she had seen first hand the destruction the Vath can cause. When she pretends to be Maram she sees how the politics of the Vath work. She becomes this well rounded formidable woman who finds strength in her love for people. She has some really great lines in the story that had me riveted.

Maram also develops in the story and we actually get to hear from her POV. I really liked the character that is introduced into her life and how that has some impact on her. Also despite her anger with Amani, she also has the seed of what love of a sister can be like sprouting in her. Amani shows her another way things can be and Maram finds that strength that Amani always knew was there.

The romance is sweet but again the two badass ladies are the main focus of the story. There are also other characters we are introduced to and more culture that I loved learning about. The descriptions of the celebrations, food and clothes made me wish I could visit their world.

If you enjoyed Mirage this is the perfect way to end the duology. The characters work hard and make sacrifices and find their ending.

Unravel the Dusk by Elizabeth Lim

Unravel the Dusk (The Blood of Stars #2)
Author: Elizabeth Lim
Publisher: Knopf
Release Date: July 7th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

The thrilling sequel to SPIN THE DAWN, a magical series steeped in Chinese culture.
Maia Tamarin’s journey to sew the dresses of the sun, the moon and the stars has taken a grievous toll. She returns to a kingdom on the brink of war. The boy she loves is gone, and she is forced to don the dress of the sun and assume the place of the emperor’s bride-to-be to keep the peace.
But the war raging around Maia is nothing compared to the battle within. Ever since she was touched by the demon Bandur, she has been changing . . . glancing in the mirror to see her own eyes glowing red, losing control of her magic, her body, her mind. It’s only a matter of time before Maia loses herself completely, but she will stop at nothing to find Edan, protect her family, and bring lasting peace to her country.
YA fantasy readers will love the sizzling forbidden romance, mystery, and intrigue of UNRAVEL THE DUSK.

Wow so Unravel the Dusk is quite the sequel to Spin the Dawn. It was crazy every step of the way. I really didn’t know what Maia’s fate was going to be until we went there. This the second book so beware there might be unavoidable spoilers for the first book in this review.

So I feel like the synopsis doesn’t do justice to the intensity of this plot. Maia did indeed sew the dresses of Amana but she paid a grave price. She paid it out of love though for her family, her country and Edan. I love Maia because she has changed so much from when we met her in the first book. She’s not perfect by any means. She makes mistakes but she also has found a new confidence and a new purpose.I think it’s really interesting how she is able to see beyond the surface of people. Including maybe some of the ones that come across as the worst like Khanujin, Sarnai and Xina. She doesn’t excuse their misdeeds but she is also able to find their value. I also love how she loves A’landi and the people in it.

Like I said the plot is intense and fast paced. I kept wondering what Maia would do next. I did get frustrated with her sometimes and her actions. In the grand scheme of things it all led to where she needed to be. She just kept managing to get herself stuck in situations. I felt the ending was really heartfelt as well. The conversations that occur and how things wrap up.

I really loved Unravel the Dusk. I don’t want to give anything away because it is such a great sequel to Spin the Dawn. I wish there could be more but again the ending was perfectly executed.

Elizabeth Lim grew up on a hearty staple of fairy tales, myths, and songs. Her passion for storytelling began around age 10, when she started writing fanfics for Sailor Moon, Sweet Valley, and Star Wars, and posted them online to discover, "Wow, people actually read my stuff. And that's kinda cool!" But after one of her teachers told her she had "too much voice" in her essays, Elizabeth took a break from creative writing to focus on not flunking English.
Over the years, Elizabeth became a film and video game composer, and even went so far as to get a doctorate in music composition. But she always missed writing, and she turned to penning stories when she needed a breather from grad school. One day, she decided to write and finish a novel -- for kicks, at first, then things became serious -- and she hasn't looked back since.
Elizabeth loves classic film scores, books with a good romance, food (she currently has a soft spot for arepas and Ethiopian food), the color turquoise, overcast skies, English muffins, cycling, and baking. She grew up in Northern California, with a brief stint in Tokyo, Japan, but now lives in New York City with her husband and their daughter.
Elizabeth graduated from Harvard College with an A.B. in music and a secondary in East Asian Studies. She completed her graduate degrees (MM, DMA) at The Juilliard School.
She is represented by Gina Maccoby of the Gina Maccoby Literary Agency.

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The Crow Rider by Kalyn Josephson

The Crow Rider (The Storm Crow #2)
Author: Kalyn Josephson
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: July 7th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Princess Thia, her allies, and her crow, Res, are planning a rebellion to defeat Queen Razel and Illucia once and for all. Thia must convince the neighboring kingdoms to come to her aid, and Res’s show of strength is the only thing that can help her.

But so many obstacles stand in her way. Res excels at his training, until he loses control of his magic, harming Thia in the process. She is also pursued by Prince Ericen, heir to the Illucian throne and the one person she can’t trust but can’t seem to stay away from.

As the rebel group prepares for war, Res’s magic grows more unstable. Thia has to decide if she can rely on herself and their bond enough to lead the rebellion and become the crow rider she was meant to be.

The Crow Rider is the exciting sequel to The Storm Crow. As we join Thia in her fight to save her kingdom.

It has been a while since I’ve read The Storm Crow and even though The Crow Rider picks up where it left off, there isn’t any info dumping from the first book. Even so my memory is jogged pretty easily while reading. Kalyn Josephson does a good job of putting in little reminders that don’t make it feel like you are reading a summary of the first book. I definitely prefer that since a series like this can easily be binged.

I remember having so many frustrations with Thia in TSC and thinking she wasn’t giving Ericen enough credit. It’s funny how TCR starts with those same feelings for me. Where I wasn’t sure if I was ever endeared to Thia previously. I did start to really like her in this sequel. We see her learning and developing as a human. As she understands that not everyone is perfect. She’s mad her own mistakes and ignorance is not always a defense.

I still love Ericen. I don’t think there was enough of him in this story. I would have loved to see Kiva and him get into it more. I love the way they can play off one another. In a non-romantic way. In the we both care about Thia and are just dealing with the other way.

The thing I really liked about this second half of the story is Res. I think he really endeared me to the idea of these crow riders. He’s like some combination of cat, dog and with some human like tendencies that made him sweet.

As far as the plot is concerned. I did enjoy it. There is one aspect that felt a little rushed and I think that’s because it was a sequel instead of trilogy. It was something that could have had a deeper delve but also I was fine with it not. I understood what the element was and their impact. I did really like how so much of the ar is driven by revenge and not because I like revenge. I just think people can get lost in emotions sometimes. Fueled by different things and the fact that Raziel had not just a purpose of gaining power for no reason. She had something that made her the way she is.

There is plenty of action in the story. Being that they are brushing with war. So if you enjoy the battle scene there are few for you here.

I did really enjoy it and I felt like it does wrap up the story. It’s also nice to have it be a two book series that is a fun fantasy to read if you're not looking for something that’s intense and takes a lot of books to complete.

Kalyn Josephson currently works as a Technical Writer in the tech industry, which leaves room for too many bad puns about technically being a writer. Though she grew up in San Luis Obispo, California, she graduated from Santa Clara University with a degree in Biology and a degree in English (Creative Writing). Currently, she lives in the Bay Area with four awesome friends (because it’s the Bay Area and she’d like to be able to retire one day) and two black cats (who are more like a tiny dragon and an ever tinier owl). THE STORM CROW is her debut novel.

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If you pre-order TCR submit their receipts, they can choose a bonus scene from either Kiva or Ericen's POV, and be entered to win a TSC bookmark + character cards. Open US and CAN only.

Also, if you order TSC (hardcover OR paperback) or TCR from Kaylyn’s local indie store, Keplers Books, before July 7th they can get a signed, personalized copy. Readers need to say in the order comments if they wanted it personalized through.

Forest of Souls by Lori M. Lee

Forest of Souls (Shamanborn #1)
Author: Lori M. Lee
Publisher: Page Street Kids
Release Date: June 23rd 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Danger lurks within the roots of Forest of Souls, an epic, unrelenting tale of destiny and sisterhood, perfect for fans of Naomi Novik and Susan Dennard.

Sirscha Ashwyn comes from nothing, but she’s intent on becoming something. After years of training to become the queen’s next royal spy, her plans are derailed when shamans attack and kill her best friend Saengo.

And then Sirscha, somehow, restores Saengo to life.

Unveiled as the first soulguide in living memory, Sirscha is summoned to the domain of the Spider King. For centuries, he has used his influence over the Dead Wood—an ancient forest possessed by souls—to enforce peace between the kingdoms. Now, with the trees growing wild and untamed, only a soulguide can restrain them. As war looms, Sirscha must master her newly awakened abilities before the trees shatter the brittle peace, or worse, claim Saengo, the friend she would die for.

Forest of Souls was a book that once I started reading, I could not put down. I just needed to know what was going to happen.

I loved the plot and thought of this as a fast paced adventure. I read the book in a day because I needed to know what was going to happen. I actually think I read Lori’s other books in a day as well. I just think her writing style really appeals to me. There is definitely an elimination of mystery to the story as well as a plot that branches in a couple directions. Although some questions are answered in this first book there are still more that need to be sorted. The ending of the book left you hanging but also felt like a comfortable cliffhanger. If there can be such a thing.

There isn’t really romance in Forest of Souls but there is potential for romance. Which I liked even better. Say if in the next book some things developed it would be so natural because of the ground work in this book. At the same time if nothing develops, I wouldn’t be upset either because that would also seem natural.

I loved the friendship and familial bond between Sirscha and Saengo. No matter what they have one another's backs and even though there are things they have to work through. They are able to put those things on the back burner in order to conquer more pressing problems. I think because it feels like they know they have to hatch some stuff out but they also know they can make it through it because their bond is strong.

There are other side characters that I really liked. Meilek, Theyen and Phaut, were all characters that added their own special touches. I felt like Kendara and Ronin are a little more enigmatic and I hope there is more revealed in the next book.

Like I said I don’t want to spoil the plot because there are things that are mysterious and revealed throughout the story. I did really enjoy Forest of Souls and I’m really excited for the next book and to see what road all the characters end up following.

Lori M. Lee is the author of FOREST OF SOULS, first in the Shamanborn series, as well as GATES OF THREAD AND STONE and THE INFINITE. She’s also a contributor to the anthologies A THOUSAND BEGINNINGS AND ENDINGS and COLOR OUTSIDE THE LINES. She considers herself a unicorn aficionado, enjoys marathoning TV shows, and loves to write about magic, manipulation, and family.

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Sisters of Sword and Song by Rebecca Ross

Sisters of Sword and Song
Author: Rebecca Ross
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: June 23rd 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

From the author of The Queen’s Rising comes a thrilling YA stand-alone fantasy about the unbreakable bond between sisters. Perfect for fans of Ember in the Ashes, Sky in the Deep, and Court of Fives.

After eight long years, Evadne will finally be reunited with her older sister, Halcyon, who has been proudly serving in the queen’s army. But when Halcyon appears earlier than expected, Eva knows something has gone terribly wrong. Halcyon is on the run, hunted by her commander and charged with murder.

Though Halcyon’s life is spared during her trial, the punishment is heavy. And when Eva volunteers to serve part of Halcyon’s sentence, she’s determined to find out exactly what happened. But as Eva begins her sentence, she quickly learns that there are fates much worse than death.

Sisters of Sword and Song was enjoyable standalone fantasy story.

I like that the heart of the story is really about family. Blood relation or not, I loved reading the bond between the characters. It really shaped their actions and how they reacted to one another. Even in their worst moments.

I did really enjoy the plot. This is a land of magic and myths Some are blessed with powers and others are not. Halcyon and Evadne are descended from the God Kirkos who became mortal when he fell in love. So their chances of having any magical abilities are slim to none. They find other ways to shine. Halcyon in her ability to be a warrior. Evadne in her wisdom and loyalty. The sisters are put to the test in each of their own ways.

I really liked Evadne. She in a way is just considered average. Yet she has this well of strength that nobody really expects. I liked her character development in the story. How she stays strong no matter what is placed in front of her. Fueled by her love of her sister and her family. I think it’s interesting that Kirkos' fall was because of love and considered a weakness. When it appears to be his ancestors greatest asset.

Halcyon is also kind of interesting because she is the sister that seems to have everything. Yet she loses so much in the story. I didn’t feel as bonded with her character as much as Evadne but I still appreciated her.

The romance is light and cute. I really liked the little bit it added but that it wasn’t a main focus.

I enjoyed this as a standalone fantasy. I liked the strong family roots and the plot steeped it’s own mythology.

Rebecca Ross grew up in Georgia, where she continues to reside with her husband, lively dog and endless piles of books. She received her bachelor's degree in English from UGA. In the past she has worked at a Colorado dude ranch, as a school librarian, and as a live-time captionist for a college.

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The Kinder Poison by Natalie Mae

The Kinder Poison (The Kinder Poison #1)
Author: Natalie Mae
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: June 16th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Perfect for fans of Victoria Aveyard and Holly Black, this enthralling fantasy adventure follows a teenage girl chosen to be the human sacrifice in a deadly game between three heirs who will do anything for the crown.

Zahru has long dreamed of leaving the kingdom of Orkena and having the kinds of adventures she’s only ever heard about in stories. But as a lowly Whisperer, her power to commune with animals means that her place is serving in the royal stables until the day her magic runs dry.

All that changes when the ailing ruler invokes the Crossing: a death-defying race across the desert, in which the first of his heirs to finish—and take the life of a human sacrifice at the journey’s end—will ascend to the throne and be granted unparalleled abilities.

With all of the kingdom abuzz, Zahru leaps at the chance to change her fate if just for a night by sneaking into the palace for a taste of the revelry. But the minor indiscretion turns into a deadly mistake when she gets caught up in a feud between the heirs and is forced to become the Crossing’s human sacrifice. Zahru is left with only one hope for survival: somehow figuring out how to overcome the most dangerous people in the world.

I loved The Kinder Poison. I was addicted from the minute I started reading and I just could not put it down. I felt like I didn’t know what would happen to Zahru up until the end.

I loved everything about this story. The plot is so fast paced and a villain isn’t just a villain. The characters all have their moments where they balance the line. I loved how well we get time with each of the heirs as Zahru becomes a part of the race. It’s not just the race that is the focus of the story. We find that tensions are rising outside of the kingdom as well.

I like Zahru a lot because she doesn’t have all the answers. She has what is considered a lesser magic. By being a Whisperer she is able to talk to animals. I thought that's pretty cool magic personally. I don’t think she really gets to test its full limits in the story though but that’s just my assessment. Ha ha. I loved the undercurrent of the story that does center around Zahru and who she is besides her magic.

I loved their three heirs because they all have their own strengths and weaknesses. Jet is kind but he also seems to have this complex that makes him often feel like he needs to step back and let others shine. Kasta is cruel but also has more to his story, more to him. Sakira is charismatic and seems reckless but also wants to help her people. That’s just the heirs, not counting their companions who all have varying personalities. They really pull the story together, we get to know them all and I loved how each one can make an impact on someone else.

I really loved The Kinder Poison and I can not wait to see what the next book has in store. There are a few different things that are going to be at play. I want to see where this journey for Zahru goes.

Natalie Mae is an ex-programmer, dessert enthusiast, and author of young adult novels. She has also been a freelance editor and Pitch Wars mentor, and feels it notable to mention she once held a job where she had to feed spiders.

She now writes full-time at home with a bag of dark chocolates in one hand and a leopard cat on her lap. She is most definitely not checking Instagram right now.

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The Glamourist by Luanne G. Smith

The Glamourist (The Vine Witch Series #2)
Author: Luanne G. Smith
Publisher: 47North
Release Date: June 9th 2020
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction

A spellbinding novel of bloodlines, self-discovery, and redemption by the author of the Washington Post bestseller The Vine Witch.

Abandoned as a child in turn-of-the-century Paris, Yvette Lenoir has longed to uncover the secrets of her magical heritage and tap her suppressed powers. But what brave and resourceful Yvette has done to survive the streets has made her a fugitive. With a price on her head, she clings to a memento from her past—what she believes to be a grimoire inherited from the mother she never knew. To unlock the secrets of her past, Yvette trusts in one woman to help solve the arcane riddles among its charmed pages.

Elena Boureanu is the vine witch of Château Renard, noted for its renowned wines. Even as she struggles with her own bloodline—and its poisonous threat to her future—Elena can’t ignore a friend on the run. Joined by a cunning thief, the proprietor of an enchanted-curio shop, and a bewitching black cat, Elena and Yvette are determined to decode Yvette’s mysterious keepsake. But what restless magic will be unleashed? And what are Yvette and Elena willing to risk to become the witches they were destined to be?

The Glamourist is a story about witches and finding your power.

The story continues over from The Vine Witch. We have Elena who is trying to hide from her heritage and Yvette who is trying toward her heritage.

I love Elena’s maturity and intelligence. I feel like she is kind of like Sherlock as the mystery of unlocking their past moves along. I definitely wouldn’t call Yvette Watson, more of the fiery sidekick that can react recklessly because she has all this energy built inside her. I really like how Yvette’s character is so different from Elena’s yet they are friends.

I really enjoy the magic system and having the aptitude for one type of magic or another. Part of Elena’s hurdle is after learning that her mother was a witch of poisons and she loves her role of a Vine witch she doesn’t want the one to taint the other. Yvette knows there is buzzing inside her but no matter how she tries she can’t find the way for it to come out. I love the bit of mystery that comes with discovering the girls roots, present and future.

There is something that really appeals to me about the writing style that I find in these books. I can’t quite put my finger on what to exactly call it. It kind of has that historical sense but a little more.

I enjoyed The Glamourist. It will be interesting to read The Conjurer and follow Sibra on her own journey.

Luanne G. Smith is the author of THE VINE WITCH, a fantasy novel about witches, wine, and revenge set in early 20th century France, and the forthcoming second book in the series, THE GLAMOURIST. She’s lucky enough to live in Colorado at the base of the beautiful Rocky Mountains, where she enjoys reading, gardening, hiking, a glass of wine at the end of the day, and finding the magic in everyday life.

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Hood by Jenny Elder Moke

Author: Jenny Elder Moke
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: June 9th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Retellings, Fantasy

You have the blood of kings and rebels within you, love. Let it rise to meet the call.

Isabelle of Kirklees has only ever known a quiet life inside the sheltered walls of the convent, where she lives with her mother, Marien. But after she is arrested by royal soldiers for defending innocent villagers, Isabelle becomes the target of the Wolf, King John's ruthless right hand. Desperate to keep her daughter safe, Marien helps Isabelle escape and sends her on a mission to find the one person who can help: Isabelle's father, Robin Hood.

As Isabelle races to stay out of the Wolf's clutches and find the father she's never known, she is thrust into a world of thieves and mercenaries, handsome young outlaws, new enemies with old grudges, and a king who wants her entire family dead. As she joins forces with Robin and his Merry Men in a final battle against the Wolf, will Isabelle find the strength to defy the crown and save the lives of everyone she holds dear?

Hood turned out to be a really cute story. I love that it’s not re-telling of Robin Hood as much as a continuation of the story. We get to glimpse some of things we are familiar with from the legend but also a whole new story.

Isabelle is an interesting character. I could tell if i always like her or not. She struggles with a lot of self-doubt and kind little miny pity parties. She is also sixteen though and figuring out that her father and mother are not exactly who she thought they were. When she overcomes her challenges she really overcomes them. Throwing herself into the fray to help people. She can show great strength at times.

I really enjoyed the plot. It’s an easy flowing story that is a fun quick read. Very fast paced and of course brings together elements from the Robin Hood tale. Lie Sherwood Forest and the Merry Men. I really loved the design of Sherwood Forest. It makes so much more sense in Hood. Ha ha. I also like how no element is too overpowering. There is a little dabble in romance but it doesn’t take over the story. There is definitely adventure but the root of the story is family. I think the things that were meant to shine through did and didn’t get lost in the story somewhere.

It would definitely be interesting to see more from this world. Even maybe with some of the characters that were particularly close to Isabelle. Maybe Adam, Helena, Little or Patrick could get some more spotlight.

I really enjoyed Hood and it’s a nice read when you need a break. Of course I really like Robin Hood tales in general though and I think this does justice in the vein.

Jenny Elder Moke writes young adult fiction in an attempt to recapture the shining infinity of youth. She was a finalist in the 2017 Austin Film Festival Podcast Competition, and studied children’s writing with Liz Garton Scanlon.

When she is not writing, she’s gathering story ideas from her daily adventures with her two irredeemable rapscallions and honing her ninja skills as a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Jenny lives in Austin, TX with her husband and two children.

Her debut novel, HOOD, about the daughter of Robin Hood and Maid Marien, will release from Disney/Hyperion in Spring 2020. She is represented by Elizabeth Bewley of Sterling Lord Literistic.

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The Archer at Dawn by Swati Teerdhala

The Archer at Dawn (The Tiger at Midnight Trilogy #2)
Author: Swati Teerdhala
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: May 26th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, India, Cultural, Mythology

The Sun Mela is many things: a call for peace, a cause for celebration, and, above all, a deadly competition. For Kunal and Esha, finally working together as rebel spies, it provides the perfect guise to infiltrate King Vardaan’s vicious court.

Kunal will return to his role as dedicated Senap soldier, at the Sun Mela to provide extra security for the palace during the peace summit for the divided nations of Jansa and Dharka. Meanwhile, Esha will use her new role as adviser to Prince Harun to keep a pulse on shifting political parties and seek out allies for their rebel cause. A radical plan is underfoot to rescue Jansa’s long-lost Princess Reha—the key to the stolen throne.

But amid the Mela games and glittering festivities, much more dangerous forces lie in wait. With the rebel Blades’ entry into Vardaan’s court, a match has been lit, and long-held secrets will force Kunal and Esha to reconsider their loyalties—to their country and to each other. Getting into the palace was the easy task; coming out together will be a battle for their lives.

I loved The Archer at Dawn. What a great second book in a series, which is hard to do. It felt like a first book because of the way the plot is structured and it’s so fast paced. I couldn’t stop reading.

I love plots like the one in The Tiger at Midnight series. Where there are multiple answers to a problem and the main character’s answer isn’t necessarily the right one. There are so many roads these characters can take and it’s not about being good or evil. Where we focused on the struggle of the General’s Murder and tracking the Viper in the first book, we now get a little bit more into the politics in the race to find the lost Princess Reha. I had felt the Blades were focused more on saving the land in the first book but in The Archer at Dawn I felt like they were more focused on instating a new ruler on the throne. Which I think was making Kunal wonder what the right thing is. I also loved that the politics and the Sun Mela were both interesting and not overwhelming. Depending on my mindset in a book, I don’t always want to read a ton of fighting and I think The Archer at Dawn definitely has that balance. The plot is so fast paced that you do not want to put the book down because you want to know what everyone’s real intentions are. There are so many moving parts and like I said, so many choices and roads for the characters to take! I loved it.

I love Kunal. He is by far my favorite character in this series. We’ve seen him grow so much from his time at the Blood Fort in The Tiger at Midnight to who he becomes in The Archer at Dawn. He sees things in this very flat and not emotionally guided way. Even when he is doing something to protect Esha, he still has his wits about him. I think before he was moving through the motions and trying to find where he fits in. In this story I think he is really coming out of a fog and deciding what he wants to protect the most. What the blood in his veins really means to him. He said something too that really endeared me to him. When he was talking about revenge is a vicious cycle and he showed how as a soldier he also took people's children and parents. Every time they fight. I just love him and can’t wait to see his character’s develop in the next book.

Esha is more ruled by passion. I like her and I really loved the relationship between her and Kunal in The Tiger at Midnight but she starts to lose me a little bit in The Archer at Dawn. She is passionate about revenge, she is passionate about finding Reha and she is passionate about unsupering Vardaan. I think Esha seems like she knows who she is more than Kunal but it’s almost like they go in opposite directions and she starts to lose herself. I also don’t like how she treats Kunal as far as information goes but she does care about him. I like that even though she might be slightly confused about other relationships, she is open about it.

Another thing that I really love is how the side characters have more depth to them as well. We found that General Hotha was indeed a terrible man. He destroyed and took many lives. We also found that he truly loved Kunal and protected him. Placing him in positions where nobody would suspect his lineage. I think there is also a lot more to Vardaan as well. We only get glimpses of his maybe not so evil side but I’m hoping there will be more to his story as to why he did some things. I don’t want to get into every character but I just really like how they have reasons for what they do. They are not just there to be there.

I’m so excited for the next book. I can’t handle not knowing what is going to happen.

Swati Teerdhala is the author of The Tiger at Midnight series, which has appeared on both Barnes and Noble and Book Riot’s Most Anticipated Novels lists.

After graduating from the University of Virginia with a BS in finance and BA in history, she tumbled into the marketing side of the technology industry. She’s passionate about many things, including how the right ratio of curd-to-crust in a lemon tart. She currently lives in New York City.

Swati is represented by Kristin Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency.

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Dark Skies by Danielle L. Jensen

Dark Skies (Dark Shores #2)
by Danielle L. Jensen
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: May 5th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Lydia is a scholar, but books are her downfall when she meddles in the plots of the most powerful man in the Celendor Empire. Her life in danger, she flees west to the far side of the Endless Seas and finds herself entangled in a foreign war where her burgeoning powers are sought by both sides.

Killian is Marked by the God of War, but his gifts fail him when the realm under the dominion of the Corrupter invades Mudamora. Disgraced, he swears his sword to the kingdom’s only hope: the crown princess. But the choice sees him caught up in a web of political intrigue that will put his oath – and his heart – to the test.

With Mudamora falling beneath the armies of the Corrupter, Lydia and Killian strike a bargain to save those they love most—but it is a bargain with unintended and disastrous consequences. Truths are revealed, birthrights claimed, and loyalties questioned—all while a menace deadlier and more far-reaching than they realize sweeps across the world.

Dark Skies is the second book in the Dark Shores series. It actually runs parallel to the first book but with different perspectives. We have Lydia and Killian as our main leads but I loved how it weaves in out of the first book.

I read the two books back to back and so the string of the plot just kept going for me. I loved it. I loved how well the two tie together. I don’t always like books that happen in the same world. Usually because I’m loyal to whatever characters I read first but Dark Skies complements Dark Shores perfectly. We spent a lot of time in Dark Shores in Cel, it’s legions and the clans of the West. Where in Dark Skies we spend most of our time in the West and in Mudamora.

There is a lot of politics and war but it’s not over done. It’s all interesting and I love how the tie in to the first book makes you want to know more. You had glimpses of things and now you are fleshing out the story you already know. It’s very well executed and keeps you reading. This doesn’t feel like a second book at all. In a way it’s a first book all over again.

Killian is by far my favorite character in this installment. I think he is such an easy character to feel camaraderie with. He’s got a lot on his plate but he is kind and thoughtful. Also he is god marked for war so he is a strategist and the wheels are always turning in his head.

Lydia is a spoiler in herself so if you haven’t read the first book….although I know if you read the first book you already suspected. Instead of starting with Teriana we start with Lydia at the same place we started the last book. It was interesting to see her perspective on things that we’ve already read. I do like Lydia. She has this different kind of fierceness from Teriana. I think it’s why they compliment each other as friends. I don’t think her basic character really changes from beginning to the end of the book but I do think she finds her place in the world. Feeling like an outcast her whole life.

Even though Malahi is not a perspective in this story. I really enjoyed her character, even the ups and downs with it.

I loved the Dark Skies and I love the Dark Shores series so far. I’m excited for the next book to see what the perspectives will be and how things will start flowing in the same vein.

Danielle L. Jensen is the USA Today bestselling author of The Malediction Trilogy (Angry Robot), the Dark Shores series (Tor Teen), and The Bridge Kingdom series (Audible Originals). She lives in Calgary, Alberta with her family.

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Palace of Silver by Hannah West

Palace of Silver (The Nissera Chronicles #3)
Author: Hannah West
Publisher: Holiday House
Release Date: April 28th 2020
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Retellings

Return to the land of Nissera, home to spectacular magic. An uneasy peace reigns now that Valory has vanquished the Moth King and settled into her rightful place as queen of Calgoran. New leaders Glisette and Kadri hope to usher the neighboring kingdoms into an era of healing and prosperity. All should be well.

But there’s a fourth queen in charge: Ambrosine, banished overseas to Perispos. Driven by vanity, she vows to become the most powerful and beautiful ruler in the world, even if it means oppressing the mortal kingdom she is meant to protect. Meanwhile a dangerous uprising led by elicromancer-hating rebels gains momentum. Rot spreads through the Forest of the West Fringe. Valory goes missing. Facing enemies on all sides, Glisette and Kadri must reckon with the role of magic. How far will they go to defend their power—and can they build an uprising of their own?

West intertwines homages to Snow White and Bluebeard with her imaginative magical setting for an exhilarating installment in the acclaimed Nissera Chronicles. Stunning hardcover edition includes a two-page map and family tree.

Palace of Silver is another fantastic installment of the Nissera Chronicles, where Queens and Princesses kick butt all over the place. I really enjoyed the POVs and how fast paced the story moved along.

So Kingdom of Ash and Briars is the first installment in the series and what starts the bloodlines we follow now. That book, however, is much easier to read as a standalone. It does enhance the reading experience to have that history for the next two books. We then move into Realm of Ruins, which happens much later in the same world. Palace of Silver is actually a direct sequel to Realm of Ruins. So at first since it’s been a while since I read the last book my mind needed to be jogged. Which I think they do a pretty decent job doing at the beginning. So many things happen in each book that you would go crazy if a character summarized it perfectly but between Kadri and Glisette I finally got the pieces to fall in place in my brain.

So the Nissera Chronicles always have an undercurrent of fairy tales. Palace of Silver had Snow White. Even though I’m not a very big Snow White fan, I loved the way it was incorporated into the story. It was so well done.

I also really liked that we took a break from straight up Elicromancers and follow more along with a religion in Perispos. Where there are Holies and the Fallen. I thought of them like Angels or I guess Saints and Demon. Even though Elicromancey is a big part of Kadri and Glisette. They actually rely a lot more on themselves than they do magic. I loved seeing both girls grow as rulers and as people.

We have the four queens and we get the perspective of three of them because Valory has gone missing. Kadri, Glisette and Ambrosine. I loved all three actually. I think for Kadri and Glisette you get to see these really strong women. With Ambrosine you get the part of the story that you don’t always get, what makes her make the choices that she does. Ambrosine was on trial with Realm Alliance by the end of Realm of Ruin. So as we start Palace of Silver we see that they decided to not execute or completely strip her of powers. Instead they put her powers on probation and married her King Myron of Perispos for a chance at redemption.

There is a lot that happens but I loved how fast moving I felt the plot was. Once I was really into the story I couldn’t put it down. The only part I struggled with was the beginning and that’s only because I needed to make sure to get my brain straight. There is a family tree in the front of the book so I was able to use that in order to follow the lines I know and jog some things. The end hinted at a fourth possible book. I would think with these same characters but maybe not. I don’t know if I would want that or another jump in time. I’m excited for any of it though.

I don't want to delve too much into information because I think there are a lot of interesting plot turns that I don’t want to give away. I loved this installment though if you are a fan of the series I think you will be really happy. If you haven’t read it, I think you should. Especially if you love the inclusion of Fairy Tales. I would start from the beginning you could start from Realm of Ruins. I just think you get a lot of rich history starting from Kingdom of Ash and Briars though.

I'm the author of young adult books including The Nissera Chronicles series and The Bitterwine Oath. I've been writing fantasy since kindergarten, when I penned my first tale about a princess who ran away and lived at the top of a flagpole with two loaves of bread. But it wasn't until I studied abroad in Orléans, France during college that the premise for my first novel materialized. The fairy tale castles, the snowy winter days, and a Disney princess pencil that arrived in a care package from my parents provided the inspiration that allowed me to wrangle all my untold and unfinished stories into a novel.
I currently live in the Dallas area with my husband and our two rambunctious rescue dogs.

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Starts: April 22nd 2020
Ends: May 6th 2020
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The Silence of Bones by June Hur

The Silence of Bones
Author: June Hur
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: April 21st 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Historical, Historical Fiction

I have a mouth, but I mustn't speak;
Ears, but I mustn't hear;
Eyes, but I mustn't see.

1800, Joseon (Korea). Homesick and orphaned sixteen-year-old Seol is living out the ancient curse: “May you live in interesting times.” Indentured to the police bureau, she’s been tasked with assisting a well-respected young inspector with the investigation into the politically charged murder of a noblewoman.

As they delve deeper into the dead woman's secrets, Seol forms an unlikely bond of friendship with the inspector. But her loyalty is tested when he becomes the prime suspect, and Seol may be the only one capable of discovering what truly happened on the night of the murder.

But in a land where silence and obedience are valued above all else, curiosity can be deadly.

June Hur's elegant and haunting debut The Silence of Bones is a bloody tale perfect for fans of Kerri Maniscalco and Renée Ahdieh.

The Silence of Bones is a murder mystery in 1800 Joseon (Korea). We follow Police Damo, Seol, who is serving out her indentured servitude. I absolutely the writing in this book and the way the story kept you riveted as the mystery unfolds.

Seol is a bright and clever girl. She has a very analytical mind and often sees things in this very clinical way. She is very curious and thirst for knowledge and also has a very good memory. We navigate this story and world with her as she can’t help but feel a need to help solve the case. Her motivations change as she goes on her journey but the fact of the matter never changes that this is fuel for her bright mind.

I loved the way the plot unfolds. There were certain things that I figured out because there are clues all over but I didn’t necessarily know how they fit together until I was supposed to. I thought the pacing and discovering of information was perfect. I was never like come on Seol, I felt like she was figuring out things at the same rate the reader was for the most part. Which I think always makes a murder mystery more enjoyable. I don’t want to give anything away though so I don’t even want to talk about the other characters. Like all mysteries there are offshoots of other things that are happening to the characters, besides the main case.

There was a point in the book that I felt mad at everyone except for Seol. Ha ha

I found 1800 Joseon really interesting too. Just the culture references and the way the class system works. The treatment of women was really interesting. It’s made me want to research more about the era. I think June Hur did a wonderful job of incorporating it in a way that made you feel like you were there. I love the way the mood was set.

I loved the book. I thought it was well written and super intriguing up until the mystery is finally solved.

JUNE HUR (‘Hur’ as in ‘her’) was born in South Korea and raised in Canada, except for the time when she moved back to Korea and attended high school there. Most of her work is inspired by her journey through life as an individual, a dreamer, and a Christian, with all its confusions, doubts, absurdities and magnificence. She studied History and Literature at the University of Toronto, and currently works for the public library. She lives in Toronto with her husband and daughter.

Her debut novel THE SILENCE OF BONES (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan, April 2020) is a murder mystery set in Joseon Dynasty Korea (early 1800s), and also a coming-of-age tale about a girl searching for home. It was recently selected by the American Booksellers Association as one of the top debuts of Winter/Spring 2020.

She is represented by Amy Bishop of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret LLC.

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Starts: 15th April 2020
Ends: 29TH April 2020
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Crave by Tracy Wolff

Author: Tracy Wolff
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Release Date: April 7th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal

My whole world changed when I stepped inside the academy. Nothing is right about this place or the other students in it. Here I am, a mere mortal among gods…or monsters. I still can’t decide which of these warring factions I belong to, if I belong at all. I only know the one thing that unites them is their hatred of me.

Then there’s Jaxon Vega. A vampire with deadly secrets who hasn’t felt anything for a hundred years. But there’s something about him that calls to me, something broken in him that somehow fits with what’s broken in me.

Which could spell death for us all.

Because Jaxon walled himself off for a reason. And now someone wants to wake a sleeping monster, and I’m wondering if I was brought here intentionally—as the bait.

Crave is that addicting, suck you in kind of book. Once I started reading, I just couldn’t stop.

I love boarding school or camp stories. Especially when they are of the paranormal variety. I think it’s nice to be able to bring a bunch of people into one place and with YA it makes a lot more sense to me when kids are running around without any parent supervision.

What I really enjoyed about Crave is that it’s not limited to just vampires and werewolves. It also involves other paranormals like Dragons and Witches. I love adding a little more of a mix in there and having them all interact. I kind of wish I could read some research books about them in the capacity of the world of Crave though. I have many many questions. Ha ha. There is a cute little nod to Twilight in the story too that made me laugh.

I really like Grace. She is someone who is coming from a totally different world, and I’m not even meaning that from the paranormal perspective. She’s going from perfect weather San Diego to freezing cold Alaska and without her parents. I like that her grief is not just glossed over and how sometimes she will fine one minute and the next it will hit her like a ton of bricks. She’s going through a process and I think it’s good to show it. I also really love that she is getting closer to her cousin Macy. I love my cousins and I’m sad we live so many states apart. I kept thinking this would be like if my one particular cousin and I got to go to boarding school together and it made me love it even more. I also like how Grace is pretty no nonsense especially when it comes to Jaxon. I think it’s one of those things that come with major loss, is that you kind of see the world a little differently. Like okay I don’t need this drama let’s cut to the chase here. She doesn’t play games and she doesn’t let Jaxon wander off from her truth.

Now Jaxon is his own brand of complex. Which I think he has every right to be. He has a lot going on in life and around him but I love the way he is with Grace. When he can be. I’m nt saying he has to rescue her all the time, she makes it clear that they are more of a team then one person only saving the other. It’s cute though the way he is around her. I also like the Order because they remind me of F4 but I think every group of guys reminds me of F4 (Boys Over Flowers).

I enjoyed the plot. The book is very fast paced and like I said, I couldn’t put it down. Of course the ending left me with so many questions but I can’t wait to see what happens next. I also really enjoy that at the end there are chapters written from Jaxon’s point of view.

This is just a great YA Paranormal with all the vampires, romance and drama you could hope for. I loved it.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Tracy Wolff wrote her first short story—something with a rainbow and a prince—in second grade, around the same time she forayed into the wonderful world of girls lit with her first Judy Blume novel. By ten she’d read everything in the young adult and classics sections of her local bookstore, so in desperation her mom started her on romance novels. And from the first page of the first book, Tracy knew she’d found her life-long love. A one-time English professor with over fifty novels to her name, she now devotes most of her time to writing romance and dreaming up heroes. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her family.

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Starts: 7th April 2020
Ends: 21st April 2020
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