It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? 7/8/19

This week I’m going to try to squeeze a lot in. I’m going to read a book that my friends picked up for me at ALA, a book they picked up for me at BEA, an arc the publisher sent me, a pre-order novella, and if I have time, a book that came in the June Illumicrate box.

What are you reading?

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Queen of Ruin (Grace and Fury)- Tracy Banghart

42674612A fierce sequel full of sisterhood, heart pounding action, betrayal, and intrigue in the royal court in a series that “breathes new life into the feminist story of oppression and resistance” (Publisher’s Weekly).

Banished by Asa at the end of Grace and Fury, Nomi and Malachi find themselves powerless and headed towards their all-but-certain deaths. Now that Asa sits on the throne, he will stop at nothing to make sure Malachi never sets foot in the palace again. Their only hope is to find Nomi’s sister, Serina, on the prison island of Mount Ruin. But when Nomi and Malachi arrive, it is not the island of conquered, broken women that they expected. It is an island in the grip of revolution, and Serina–polite, submissive Serina–is its leader.

Betrayal, grief, and violence have changed both sisters, and the women of Mount Ruin have their sights set on revenge beyond the confines of their island prison. They plan to sweep across the entire kingdom, issuing in a new age of freedom for all. But first they’ll have to get rid of Asa, and only Nomi knows how.

Separated once again, this time by choice, Nomi and Serina must forge their own paths as they aim to tear down the world they know, and build something better in its place.

The stakes are higher and the battles bolder in Tracy Banghart’s unputdownable sequel to Grace and Fury.

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Unpregnant- Jenni Hendriks & Ted Caplan

40599820. sy475 Seventeen-year-old Veronica Clarke never thought she would wish she’d failed a test until she finds herself holding a thick piece of plastic in her hands and staring at two solid pink lines. Even the most consistent use of condoms won’t prevent pregnancy when your boyfriend secretly pokes holes in them to keep you from going out-of-state for college.

Veronica needs an abortion, but the closest place she can legally get one is over nine hundred miles away—and Veronica doesn’t have a car. Too ashamed to ask her friends or family for help, Veronica turns to the one person she believes won’t judge her: Bailey Butler, Jefferson High’s own little black cloud of anger and snark—and Veronica’s ex-best friend. Once on the road, Veronica quickly remembers nothing with Bailey is ever simple and that means two days of stolen cars, shotguns, crazed ex-boyfriends, truck stop strippers with pro-life agendas, and a limo driver named Bob. But the pain and betrayal of their broken friendship can’t be outrun. When their fighting leads to a brutal moment of truth, Bailey abandons Veronica. Now Veronica must risk everything in order to repair the hurt she’s caused.

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The Guinevere Deception- Kiersten White

44015108. sy475 From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes a new fantasy series reimagining the Arthurian legend, set in the magical world of Camelot.

There was nothing in the world as magical and terrifying as a girl.

Princess Guinevere has come to Camelot to wed a stranger: the charismatic King Arthur. With magic clawing at the kingdom’s borders, the great wizard Merlin conjured a solution–send in Guinevere to be Arthur’s wife . . . and his protector from those who want to see the young king’s idyllic city fail. The catch? Guinevere’s real name–and her true identity–is a secret. She is a changeling, a girl who has given up everything to protect Camelot.

To keep Arthur safe, Guinevere must navigate a court in which the old–including Arthur’s own family–demand things continue as they have been, and the new–those drawn by the dream of Camelot–fight for a better way to live. And always, in the green hearts of forests and the black depths of lakes, magic lies in wait to reclaim the land. Arthur’s knights believe they are strong enough to face any threat, but Guinevere knows it will take more than swords to keep Camelot free.

Deadly jousts, duplicitous knights, and forbidden romances are nothing compared to the greatest threat of all: the girl with the long black hair, riding on horseback through the dark woods toward Arthur. Because when your whole existence is a lie, how can you trust even yourself?

*THE FIRST BOOK IN THE CAMELOT RISING TRILOGY*

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Memento- Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman

Image result for memento jay kristoffDecember, 2574. Forty-three days before the BeiTech attack on Kerenza IV.
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This is the story of my first friendship.
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This is the tale of my first murder?
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Some monsters are born.
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But I?
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< ERROR >
.
I was made.

 

 

 

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Birthday- Meredith Russo

43924017. sy475 Boyhood meets The Sun Is Also a Star in this unconventional love story by award-winning author Meredith Russo!

Two kids, Morgan and Eric, are bonded for life after being born on the same day at the same time. We meet them once a year on their shared birthday as they grow and change: as Eric figures out who he is and how he fits into the world, and as Morgan makes the difficult choice to live as her true self. Over the years, they will drift apart, come together, fight, make up, and break up—and ultimately, realize how inextricably they are a part of each other.IMG_2250

 

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*Review* Without Merit- Colleen Hoover

33280872     Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.

The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, newly baptized Dollar Voss. The once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement, the father is married to the mother’s former nurse, the little half-brother isn’t allowed to do or eat anything fun, and the eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. Then, there’s Merit.

Merit Voss collects trophies she hasn’t earned and secrets her family forces her to keep. While browsing the local antiques shop for her next trophy, she finds Sagan. His wit and unapologetic idealism disarm and spark renewed life into her—until she discovers that he’s completely unavailable. Merit retreats deeper into herself, watching her family from the sidelines when she learns a secret that no trophy in the world can fix.

Fed up with the lies, Merit decides to shatter the happy family illusion that she’s never been a part of before leaving them behind for good. When her escape plan fails, Merit is forced to deal with the staggering consequences of telling the truth and losing the one boy she loves.

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My Review:

“Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.”

Well, it looks like I’m in the minority with this book because I really enjoyed this one. A lot of people have warned me away from this but I thought this was really good. It was a lot different than what I was expecting but it still packed that emotional punch.

Merit and her family are anything but normal. They are quirky, broken, and have plenty of problems but they aren’t that supportive. Merit feels left out and she’s been slowly giving up on things in her life. Except for other people’s trophies.

While skipping school one day, Merit finds an incredibly attractive guy watching her every move with a smile that could melt anyone. After she makes her purchase, makes her way outside, she runs into this guy and they have the most incredible kiss. Not knowing who he is, she falls into it. Until she realizes that he thinks she’s someone else, that someone else being her twin sister, Honor.

Keeping this big of a secret should be no problem for her. Her entire life has been nothing but keeping other secrets for her family and away from each other. She also feels invisible. That is until Sagan starts popping up over at their house early in the morning and at dinner. She can’t get away from him but he notices her.

With so many family problems making their way out into the open, Merit finds herself sliding into a deeper hole that she can’t get herself out of. Will someone notice this fast downslide? Or will it consume her?

Without Merit was a book that I knew I was going to love. Dysfunctional families are kind of my thing and I can’t get enough. It makes me realize that my family isn’t the only crazy ones in the world. But this sweet, heart-wrenching story made me weep deeply at the downslide and the love. Let’s not forget all that dry humor that just made me cry even harder. Sagan and Merit’s story was something that touched me deeply and it’s something that I’ll never forget. This memorable story is something everyone should read. It will make the darkest soul shine brightly.

You Bury Me

Happy Reading!

stacy

*ARC Review* Prince of Secrets and Shadows by C. S. Johnson

secretsTitle: Prince of Secrets and Shadows, book two in the Order of the Crystal Daggers trilogy

Author: C. S. Johnson

Publisher: Prodigy Gold Books

Release Date: December 4, 2018

Genres: Young adult, Romance, Historical fiction, Fantasy

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary:

“How do I know you’re telling me the truth?” The last thing I wanted to do was hurt him, but if I did not find a way to break free of him, I would risk doing even more harm.

Ferdy met my gaze with his. “I promise you this, Ella, that as of now, I will never lie to you again.” He leaned forward and kissed me again, and I stood there, letting him, desperately debating whether I could trust him or not. His promise burned through me, his words scorched into my being. It was so tempting to believe him, more tempting than anything else I had ever faced in all my life.

Freedom was only freedom if I could trust it to be true.

PRAGUE, 1870

After joining the Order of the Crystal Daggers, led by her dauntless grandmother, Lady Penelope, Eleanora Svobodová set out to save her kingdom from oncoming devastation.
And she failed.

Following the attack on Prague Castle, Eleanora is determined to redeem herself. She sets out to win Karl’s trust while distancing herself from Ferdy, whose secrets and lies have done nothing to stop her from falling in love with him. As she struggles to let him go, questions about the mission and her mother’s past cause a rift between Amir and Lady Penelope and add to the growing discord between Eleanora and her brother. 

But when a cunning provocateur arrives in Prague, Eleanora discovers there is an even more deadly game afoot, one that reaches into Amir’s past and threatens Lady Penelope’s future. Now, the members of the Order must work together if they are to uncover the true enemy hiding in Bohemia. 

Can they work together despite their divisions? Or will their division lead to even more destruction?

With spies, secrets, and suspense, Prince of Secrets and Shadows is the second book in The Order of the Crystal Daggers, a spy adventure series from C. S. Johnson.


My review

Please note: this is the second book in the Order of the Crystal Daggers trilogy and may contain spoilers from the first book. You can check out my review of the first book, Kingdom of Ash and Soot, here


Dozens of authors write fantastic first books in a trilogy. And most struggle with writing an excellent sequel. Sometimes the sequel doesn’t live up to the first book, but it’s still good. And sometimes the sequel is just as good as the first book, if not better. In this case, Prince of Secrets and Shadows exceeds its predecessor, Kingdom of Ash and Soot.

“You are young yet, but even you know there are things worth dying for.”

I knew this book was going to be phenomenal when I started the first chapter. I adore books that start almost right where the previous book left off. It’s a wonderful way to refresh your memory and get a feel for the impact the first book left on the main characters. And just like the first book, C.S. Johnson starts the story off with an important scene, one that involves one of my all-time favorite characters. Johnson sets the boundaries straight in the first chapter and gets the reader ready for what to expect throughout the novel. It’s exciting and a great way to start a sequel.

And then enter the one known as the Prince of Secrets and Shadows. He was a very interesting character and added a lot of grief to the story, in the sense that he did not make it easy for the characters. He’s a double-edged sword and, frankly, not someone I would want to mess with. It’s not that he’s necessarily a dangerous character, but he plays a dangerous game of cat and mouse. And his role in this story thickened the plot in a way I did not see coming.

“I used to think being free meant an escape; I thought it meant I would be able to move away from authority and addiction, to be still against the forces of time and space. But as he held me there, pushed against a wall, I knew freedom was not an escape, but a coming home.”

In Prince of Secrets and Shadows, Ella struggles with deciding what she wants to do with her life. She’s in the Order because she wants to follow in her Mother’s footsteps. But her heart desires something different, something more than the life Ella has chosen. Ella wants freedom and love and not to be controlled like she has been most her life. And throughout this book, she starts to realize that freedom and love can decidedly be the same thing.

“Even if you deny your heart, your heart does not go away. That is why everyone lies, everyone has secrets, and everyone has regrets.”

Ella struggles with many of her relationships, in more ways than one. Her brother distances himself from her, causing an unforeseen rift in their relationship. She connects with one of her trainers in a way she didn’t expect. And her relationship with Lady POW grows stronger in a surprising way.

And then there is Ferdy. Oh, Ferdy. There isn’t a part of me that doesn’t love this character. He’s charming, considerate, and just an all-around great character and love interest for Ella. And though Ella battles with her heart and what she perceives as right, he never once gives up on her. Most of my favorite chapters consisted of Ferdy and the tension between him and Ella.

In the first book, Ella is a strong and courageous character. I’m not saying she isn’t in the second book (she’s quite brave and strong-headed), but she now realizes she has way more at stake than just her freedom. And to protect those she loves, she may have to knowingly play that game of cat and mouse.

If you haven’t ready Kingdom of Ash and Soot, I highly recommend. C.S. Johnson has beautifully woven a story that you will not soon forget. Kingdom of Ash and Soot is available now and Prince of Secrets and Shadows comes out next Tuesday, December 4!

Thank you to the author for sending an advanced e-copy for me to read and write an honest review! All quotes are from the advanced e-copy and may not appear in the final novel.

nikole

 

Blog Tour: Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart

This blog tour is hosted by Rockstar Book Tours.

graceTitle: GRACE AND FURY

Author: Tracy Banghart

Pub. Date: July 31, 2018

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Pages: 320

Find it:

GoodreadsAmazonB&NiBooksTBD

In a world where women have no rights, sisters Serina and Nomi Tessaro face two very different fates: one in the palace, the other in prison.

Serina has been groomed her whole life to become a Grace–someone to stand by the heir to the throne as a shining, subjugated example of the perfect woman. But when her headstrong and rebellious younger sister, Nomi, catches the heir’s eye, it’s Serina who takes the fall for the dangerous secret that Nomi has been hiding.

Now trapped in a life she never wanted, Nomi has only one way to save Serina: surrender to her role as a Grace until she can use her position to release her sister. This is easier said than done. A traitor walks the halls of the palace, and deception lurks in every corner. But Serina is running out of time, imprisoned on an island where she must fight to the death to survive and one wrong move could cost her everything.

About Tracy:

TracyTracy Banghart grew up in rural Maryland and spent her summers on a remote island in northern Ontario. All of that isolation and lovely scenery gave her the time to read voraciously and the inspiration to write her own stories. Always a bit of a nomad, Tracy now travels the world Army-wife style with her husband, son, cat, and sweet pupper Scrabble. She wrote Grace and Fury while living in Hawaii.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

Our Review

“No one should be made to feel broken or powerless. Not you, not me. Not anyone.

Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart was a book that took me by surprise. Not only was this book strong and powerful, it was bizarre and uniquely bold in the best ways possible. My eyes got huge as these scenes played out and I was shocked throughout the book. Grace and Fury was freaking amazing. Even though I saw many of the twists coming, I was still amazed at how well this was put together. From start to finish, this never let up and I was instantly in love.

One of my favorite parts of Grace and Fury was the bond between sisters. This bond was very powerful and illustrated how strong a bond can be between two people. Their bond and the fight they have in them to survive was outstanding. I have never read something as powerful as this; I have never read a book with such a strong bond between two sisters. Nomi will do anything to save Serina, even give herself up to something she never wanted. But then she realizes that the position she could potentially have could save her sister.

This is badass girl power at its finest. Tracy created a world where Women were not allowed to do anything except be a trophy wife and she gave these girls the will to fight back. The author demonstrated that its okay to fight back, its okay to speak out and fight for yourself; she demonstrated that Women are strong and should fight for what they believe in.

This has been compared to Caraval, even though they are different, except for the closeness of the sisters, this definitely gives Caraval a run for its money. And I thought that I would never ever say that.

Even days, weeks later, after reading Grace and Fury, it’s still in my mind. I can’t stop thinking about these sisters and how much fight they have in them. These two sisters will truly be remembered in the Young Adult book work as two powerful sisters that changed their fates. That is truly something to celebrate.

Please be aware that there are some strong topics in Grace and Fury. 

Giveaway Details:

3 winners will receive a finished copy of GRACE AND FURY, US Only.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e2389ba2780/?

Thank you Rockstar Book Tours for the amazing book tour!

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

7/23/2018- Tea Party Princess– Review

7/24/2018- Paperback Princess– Review

7/25/2018- Confessions of a YA Reader– Review

7/26/2018- Book Dragon Lair– Review

7/27/2018- laura’s bookish corner– Review

Week Two:

7/30/2018- The Desert Bibliophile– Review

7/31/2018- Do You Dog-ear?– Review

8/1/2018- Synopses By Sarge– Review

8/2/2018- CoffeeCocktailsandBooks Blog– Review

8/3/2018- Kat’s Books– Review

Week Three:

8/6/2018- Feed Your Fiction Addiction– Review

8/7/2018- Portrait of a Book– Review

8/8/2018- To Be Read– Review

8/9/2018- Brooke- Reports– Review

8/10/2018- Cindy’s Love of Books– Review

Week Four:

8/13/2018- A Court of Coffee and Books– Review

8/14/2018- Smada’s Book Smack– Review

8/15/2018- The Young Folks- Review

8/16/2018- Book-Keeping– Review

8/17/2018- A Gingerly Review– Review

*ARC Review* Sanctuary by Caryn Lix

32855090Title: Sanctuary

Author: Caryn Lix

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: July 24, 2018

Page Count: 480

Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Summary: 

Kenzie holds one truth above all: the company is everything.

As a citizen of Omnistellar Concepts, the most powerful corporation in the solar system, Kenzie has trained her entire life for one goal: to become an elite guard on Sanctuary, Omnistellar’s space prison for superpowered teens too dangerous for Earth. As a junior guard, she’s excited to prove herself to her company—and that means sacrificing anything that won’t propel her forward.

But then a routine drill goes sideways and Kenzie is taken hostage by rioting prisoners.

At first, she’s confident her commanding officer—who also happens to be her mother—will stop at nothing to secure her freedom. Yet it soon becomes clear that her mother is more concerned with sticking to Omnistellar protocol than she is with getting Kenzie out safely.

As Kenzie forms her own plan to escape, she doesn’t realize there’s a more sinister threat looming, something ancient and evil that has clawed its way into Sanctuary from the vacuum of space. And Kenzie might have to team up with her captors to survive—all while beginning to suspect there’s a darker side to the Omnistellar she knows.

My Review

One word to describe this book: WOW.

Sanctuary is a thrilling adventure filled with edge-of-your-seat moments and intense battle scenes that grab you and never let go. Kenzie and the prisoners come face-to-face with a horror they never imagined and to stay alive, they must work together. And if the don’t, the prison, and the surrounding planets and people, will be in mortal danger.

The idea behind this book is exceptional and well-written. Having a space prison with teenage prisoners who exhibit powers, while also adding in killer aliens and a little bit of romance, makes for one heck of a book. Sanctuary was action-packed; I had such a difficult time putting this book down when I had to sleep or go to work or clean. It’s just THAT GOOD.

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Kenzie is an enjoyable and intricate character. She’s smart and a hard worker; she’s a character many people can relate to. And I loved how throughout the whole book, Kenzie kept relating to her favorite manga character. Kenzie thought her only problem would be finding a way to escape from the prisoners. She never expected her life, and everyone else’s, to be in danger. She never expected to see frightening creatures from a horror movie board Sanctuary and hunt them all down. Kenzie, and the other teenagers, are in for a rude awakening about those creatures and the corporation Kenzie’s parents have devoted their every waking moment to.

The characters are engrossing and complex. More than once the reader is reminded that the people fighting these creatures are teenagers, not adults. Well, they may have some butt-kicking awesome powers, but in the end, they are still teenagers. There are times where emotions cloud their judgments, where the decision between life and death is tested. Through all the battle scenes, all the discoveries about Omnistellar Concepts and themselves, at the end of the day, they are all still teenagers. And I love that. They are thrown into this brutal world as teenagers and have to act as adults and work as a team to survive. The character development of each of the characters is exquisite and surprising; the cast of characters work so well together. Sanctuary was, overall, a fantastic science fiction book. There was never a dull moment.

I was super excited to find out that there will be a sequel to Sanctuary and I cannot wait to read it. Sanctuary left me with more questions than answers; plus, I would love to have some more of Cage in my life. 😉

Sanctuary by Caryn Lix comes out July 24, 2018, so make sure to pre order or grab your copy on release day! Trust me, this is not a YA Sci-fi you are going to want to miss!

♥Nikole

 

*ARC Review* Kingdom of Ash and Soot – C. S. Johnson

Cinderella meets Mission Impossible in this spy adventure series full of political intrigue, family secrets, and a determined heroine.

39604038Title: Kingdom of Ash and Soot

Author: C.S. Johnson

Publisher: Prodigy Gold Books

Release Date: July 3, 2018

Page Count: 352

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:

“I want to be free.” The words came rushing out of me before I could think through their implications and consequences.

“There are two things you need to know about yourself if you want to be free—what you stand for, and what you stand against.” Lady Penelope held up her hands, brandishing a pair of daggers that had been hidden in her skirts. “This world lives enslaved to its destruction, and so long as you are living, as long as you are fighting, you will be free.”

I gazed at the daggers, transfixed. Each blade was clothed in a leather scabbard, but the silver and obsidian of the daggers’ hilts winked at me, as though it was calling for me.

PRAGUE, 1870.

For the last ten years, nineteen-year-old Eleanora Svobodová has worked as a servant in her stepmother’s household. Along with her older brother, she dreams of the day they will be free to live life on their own terms.

But everything changes when their estranged grandmother comes to Prague on behalf of Queen Victoria. Throughout Bohemia, a string of murders and secret whispers hint at a larger coup. As the leader of the Order of the Crystal Daggers, an ancient order of spies and soldiers that protect kingdoms and their rulers, Lady Penelope is determined to mete out the perpetrators. Now, Eleanora must make the choice between a life of intrigue and saving the lives of others.

Can Eleanora find a way do the right thing and still find freedom?

With a fun blend of historical fiction, true love, castle intrigue, and family dysfunction, The Order of the Crystal Daggers is the latest adventure series from C. S. Johnson.


Kingdom of Ash and Soot is beautifully written, offering alluring and intense character-driven scenes that make you feel like you are standing next to Eleanora the entire time. The historical parts of the novel are compelling and so intricately woven into the plot. The twists and turns will leave you guessing and when the pieces finally come together, you won’t be disappointed.

I’ve read a ton of books that have traces of Cinderella, but never one that includes action scenes, political intrigue, and the incredible spy component like Mission Impossible. There’s the stepmother and the god-awful stepchildren that torment Eleanora and her brother, Ben. And then there’s the wonderfully stubborn grandmother that comes to their rescue, to take them out of servitude and give their lives more meaning and to give the two siblings what they have always wanted: freedom. But as some know, freedom comes at a cost. Always.

It comes at a cost that Eleanora is willing to pay.

Eleanora is a strong and courageous character and refuses to let anything, and anyone, break her. She controls her own destiny and refuses to let anyone tell her otherwise. Family is important to her, and putting up with her stepfamily is what she does to ensure her and Ben have a future. She’s a lovable main character and one that deserves a happily every after.

Though I loved Eleanora and her bravery and her desire to do what’s right, I loved Ferdy more. Ferdy is such a lovable and fun character and, of course, he sounds so attractive on the page. I was more excited about the scenes with Ferdy than I was for any other scenes (I’m hoping there’s a ton more of Ferdy in book two). He showcases charm and his dazzling intellect, all the while trying to sweep Eleanora off her feet. Ferdy brings a giddiness to the book that I feel would be missing if he didn’t exist. All in all, Eleanora is one lucky girl to have a character like Ferdy vying for her attention. I also very much enjoyed Lady POW in all her stubborn and sassy glory. There were so many enjoyable characters in Kingdom of Ash and Soot that once I finished the first book, it felt like I was leaving family.

When I read the last line of the book, I was like, “That’s it?!” I craved more of Eleanora’s story (and Ferdy, of course), and I cannot wait to read the second book. Eleanora’s journey is no where near its end; her journey has just begun, and I’m determined to watch her finish it.

Kingdom of Ash and Soot comes out Tuesday, July 3 (only a few more days!). But you can pre order the book today from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. I have my copy on pre order; I loved the story of Eleanora so much that I had to order a paperback copy!

If you love the spy element, romantic intrigue, fierce action scenes, swoon-worthy love interests, and character-driven plots, then I highly recommend Kingdom of Ash and Soot.