New Review: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

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Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders… but her father isn’t a very good one. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has loaned out most of his wife’s dowry and left the family on the edge of poverty–until Miryem steps in. Hardening her heart against her fellow villagers’ pleas, she sets out to collect what is owed–and finds herself more than up to the task. When her grandfather loans her a pouch of silver pennies, she brings it back full of gold.

But having the reputation of being able to change silver to gold can be more trouble than it’s worth–especially when her fate becomes tangled with the cold creatures that haunt the wood, and whose king has learned of her reputation and wants to exploit it for reasons Miryem cannot understand. 

 

 

 

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I was very excited to read this book and I can write poems about Naomi Novik’s beautiful writing after this book! I have been reading a lot of fantasy books, mainly because it’s the only genre that doesn’t seem repetitive, predictable and …limiting. Anything is possible in fantasy and this book…this book has some amazing elements. It reads like a fairytale…only that it’s fitting only for adults. The book battles many sensitive themes. It touches violence and murder but it does it in a way that is subtle.
But first things first.. I will admit that it takes time getting used to the writing style. It is not flawless and it certainly will put off some readers but if you keep reading it gets engaging because it really reads like a magical tale about witches, fairy kings and demons. The plot is loosely based in Rumpelstinltskin.
Let’s meet the characters.
Miryem, the moneylender’s daughter.
Irina, the duke’s daughter.
Wanda, the farm girl.
The Staryk King, who remains nameless throughout the book. (Such a fantastic idea!)
And the Tsar.
We have many other characters, of course. So what’s the book really about?

Because that’s what the story’s really about: getting out of paying your debts.

This is what this story is about. You want romance and cliches? This is not the book for you. There are plenty of fantasy books with romance.
If you want a book about schemes, hardship, family, loyalty and beautiful but mean fairy kings…then this is for you.
Not that the book lacks the romance element…it just doesn’t use it as a mean to an end. The love comes but it is justly done and it doesn’t take away from the story. My romantic heart cried over this but I realized that the book didn’t need it.
What you can expect? Beautiful imaginery, detailed descriptions of the fairy realm, realistic heroes and ugliness in a non perfect world. Miryem is daughter to the soft moneylender of her small hometown. She grows the spine to do what her father cannot…until someone finds out that she can indeed spin silver into gold. She is that good with money. And so, she attracts the one being that everyone around her fears; the Staryk King. And he makes her a bargain she cannot get out of.
Miryem is a real tough heroine and she can stand up against the fairy lord of ice and snow.

‘I am not your subject or your servant, and if you want a cowering mouse for a wife, go find someone else who can turn silver to gold for you.’

Another character that surprised me was Irina. The plain girl that manages to grasp the deadliest of husbands. The two girls are both trapped and they must overcome their mortality in order to survive and even win against their formidable partners.

‘So the fairy silver brought you a monster of fire for a husband, and me a monster of ice. We should out them in a room together and let them make us both widows.’ 

The book is filled with antiheroes but still, I found them very captivating. I had a particularly soft spot for the Staryk King, the king of winter. I found him so complex and multidimensional that I am simply sad that his character wasn’t used more or in more depth!
Overall, this was a book that challenged my patience and it needed my undivided attention but in the end I loved it. Like I said, it’s not flawless but Mrs. Novik’s world is so lush that you cannot help but be tempted and charmed by it. I recommend it but it’s not an easy read. You have been warned.
Now, when can I expect Naomi Novik’s next book? Hmm?
⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2

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Review for the Captive Prince series by C. S. Pacat

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Captive Prince

(Captive Prince #1)

From global phenomenon C. S. Pacat comes the first in her critically acclaimed trilogy—with a bonus story.

Damen is a warrior hero to his people, and the rightful heir to the throne of Akielos. But when his half brother seizes power, Damen is captured, stripped of his identity, and sent to serve the prince of an enemy nation as a pleasure slave.

Beautiful, manipulative, and deadly, his new master, Prince Laurent, epitomizes the worst of the court at Vere. But in the lethal political web of the Veretian court, nothing is as it seems, and when Damen finds himself caught up in a play for the throne, he must work together with Laurent to survive and save his country.

For Damen, there is just one rule: never, ever reveal his true identity. Because the one man Damen needs is the one man who has more reason to hate him than anyone else…

 

 

Prince’s Gambit

(Captive Prince #2)

With their countries on the brink of war, Damen and his new master, Prince Laurent, must exchange the intrigues of the palace for the sweeping might of the battlefield as they travel to the border to avert a lethal plot.

Forced to hide his identity, Damen finds himself increasingly drawn to the dangerous, charismatic Laurent. But as the fledgling trust between the two men deepens, the truth of secrets from both their pasts is poised to deal them the crowning death blow . . .

Kings Rising

(Captive Prince #3)

Damianos of Akielos has returned.

His identity now revealed, Damen must face his master Prince Laurent as Damianos of Akielos, the man Laurent has sworn to kill.

On the brink of a momentous battle, the future of both their countries hangs in the balance. In the south, Kastor’s forces are massing. In the north, the Regent’s armies are mobilising for war. Damen’s only hope of reclaiming his throne is to fight together with Laurent against their usurpers.

Forced into an uneasy alliance the two princes journey deep into Akielos, where they face their most dangerous opposition yet. But even if the fragile trust they have built survives the revelation of Damen’s identity—can it stand against the Regent’s final, deadly play for the throne?

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I will forever regret that it took me so long to pick up this series.
I have no words to describe the lush world of political intrigue and passion C.S. Pacat has created. I am in love with the descriptions, the character development and overall plot.
The undeniable attraction that slowly builds between Damen and Laurent had me glued to my seat but the story is more than a love story, it is more than a captivity story.
It has been a long time since I have been so drawn to a  series.
This a book about politics, schemes, loyalty, bravery and ultimately, love. The plot and motives develop slowly and each detail, each piece of dialogue and information has meaning and purpose.
The love/hate relationship between Damen and Laurent is a slow burn and I enjoyed every single moment of it. The atmosphere is so emotionally charged in the last two books that I couldn’t read fast  enough.
‘A kingdom of this.’
The characters are exceptionally written, their different personalities so vividly colored that you feel as if you can see them right in front of the page, appearing like wraiths in front of your eyes.
“When laced into his clothing, Laurent’s dangerous grace lent him an almost androgynous quality. Or perhaps it was more accurate to say that it was rare to associate Laurent with a physical body at all: you were always dealing with a mind.” 
― S.U. Pacat, Prince’s Gambit
Laurent is the complete antithesis of Damen yet they complete each other completely. Two kings, one fate.
Captive Prince deserves all the hype it has been getting. I recommend it.
🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Posted in Best of 2019, dark, erotic romance, fantasy, Favorite Authors, Personal Favorites Favorite Authors, review, reviews, romance, Romance Top Favorites, series | Leave a comment

Now live: The Kiss Thief by L.J. Shen

 

 

THE KISS THIEF BY L.J. SHEN

Release Date: January 9th

Cover Designer: Letitia Hasser at RBA Designs.

 

 

 

AVAILABLE NOW!

FREE IN KU!

AUDIO: https://amzn.to/2Vwq73z

 

 

 

 

 

Add to Goodreads:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41450662-tk

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blurb
They say your first kiss should be earned.

Mine was stolen by a devil in a masquerade mask under the black Chicago sky.

They say the vows you take on your wedding day are sacred.

Mine were broken before we left church.

They say your heart only beats for one man.

Mine split and bled for two rivals who fought for it until the bitter end.

I was promised to Angelo Bandini, the heir to one of the most powerful families in the Chicago Outfit.

Then taken by Senator Wolfe Keaton, who held my father’s sins over his head to force me into marriage.

They say that all great love stories have a happy ending.

I, Francesca Rossi, found myself erasing and rewriting mine until the very last chapter.

One kiss.

Two men.

Three lives.

Entwined together.

And somewhere between these two men, I had to find my forever.

 

 

 

 

Excerpt
“Are you sure you’re on my card?” I turned to the man with a polite yet distant smile. I was still disoriented from the exchange with Angelo when the stranger pulled me against his hard body and pressed a possessive hand lower than socially acceptable on my back, a second from groping my butt.

“Answer me,” I hissed.

“My bid on your card was the highest,” he replied dryly.

“The bids are undisclosed. You don’t know how much other people have paid,” I kept my lips pursed to keep myself from yelling.

“I know it’s nowhere near the realm of what this dance is worth.”

Un-freaking-believable.

We began to waltz around the room as other couples were not only spinning and mingling but also stealing envious glances at us. Naked, raw ogles that told me that whomever the blonde he’d come to the masquerade with was, she wasn’t his wife. And that I might have been all the rage in The Outfit, but the rude man was in high demand, too.

I was stiff and cold in his arms, but he didn’t seem to notice—or mind. He knew how to waltz better than most men, but he was technical, and lacked warmth and Angelo’s playfulness.

“Nemesis.” He took me by surprise, his rapacious gaze stripping me bare. “Distributing glee and dealing misery. Seems at odds with the submissive girl who entertained Bishop and his horsey wife at the table.”

I choked on my own saliva. Did he just call the governor’s wife horsey? And me submissive? I looked away, ignoring the addictive scent of his cologne, and the way his marble body felt against mine.

“Nemesis is my spirit animal. She was the one to lure Narcissus to a pool where he saw his own reflection and died of vanity. Pride is a terrible illness.” I flashed him a taunting smirk.

“Some of us could use catching it.” He bared his straight white teeth.

“Arrogance is a disease. Compassion is the cure. Most gods didn’t like Nemesis, but that’s because she had a backbone.”

“Do you?” He arched a dark eyebrow.

“Do I…?” I blinked, the courteous grin on my face crumpling. He was even ruder when we were alone.

“Have a backbone,” he provided. He stared at me so boldly and intimately, it felt like he breathed fire into my soul. I wanted to step out of his touch and jump into a pool full of ice.

“Of course, I do,” I responded, my spine stiffening. “What’s with the manners? Were you raised by wild coyotes?”

“Give me an example,” he said, ignoring my quip. I was beginning to draw away from him, but he jerked me back into his arms. The glitzy ballroom distorted into a backdrop, and even though I was starting to notice that the man behind the demi-mask was unusually beautiful, the ugliness of his behavior was the only thing that stood out.

I am a warrior and a lady…and a sane person who can deal with this horrid man.

“I really like Angelo Bandini.” I dropped my voice, slicing my gaze from his eyes and toward the table where Angelo’s family had been seated. My father was sitting a few seats away, staring at us coldly, surrounded by Made Men who chatted away.

“And see, in my family, we have a tradition dating back ten generations. Prior to her wedding, a Rossi bride is to open a wooden chest—carved and made by a witch who lived in my ancestors’ Italian village—and read three notes written to her by the last Rossi girl to marry. It’s kind of a good luck charm mixed with a talisman and a bit of fortunetelling. I stole the chest tonight and opened one of the notes, all so I could rush fate. It said that tonight I was going to be kissed by the love of my life, and well…” I drew my lower lip into my mouth and sucked it, peering under my eyelashes at Angelo’s empty seat. The man stared at me stoically, as though I was a foreign film he couldn’t understand. “I’m going to kiss him tonight.”

“That’s your backbone?”

“When I have an ambition, I go for it.”

A conceited frown crinkled his mask, as if to say I was a complete and utter moron. I looked him straight in the eye. My father taught me that the best way to deal with men like him was to confront, not run. Because, this man? He’d chase.

 

 

 

 

About the Author
L.J. Shen is an International #1 best-selling author of Contemporary Romance and New Adult novels. She lives in Northern California with her husband, young son and chubby cat.

Before she’d settled down, L.J. (who thinks referring to herself in the third person is really silly, by the way) traveled the world, and collected friends from all across the globe. Friends who’d be happy to report that she is a rubbish companion, always forgets peoples’ birthdays and never sends Christmas cards.

She enjoys the simple things in life, like spending time with her family and friends, reading, HBO, Netflix and internet-stalking Stephen James. She reads between three to five books a week and firmly believes Crocs shoes and mullets should be outlawed.

 

 

Connect with L.J. Shen
Website: http://www.authorljshen.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorljshen/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/lj_shen
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorljshen/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/authorljshen/
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/l-j-shen
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13531492.L_J_Shen
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2KSFkad

 

 

 

Posted in contemporary romance, Favorite Authors, Χωρίς κατηγορία, new releases, Personal Favorites Favorite Authors, Romance Top Favorites | Leave a comment

First read of 2019!!! A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir review!

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A Reaper at the Gates

(An Ember in the Ashes #3)

The highly anticipated third book in Sabaa Tahir’s New York Times bestselling EMBER QUARTET.

Beyond the Empire and within it, the threat of war looms ever larger.

The Blood Shrike, Helene Aquilla, is assailed on all sides. Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable, while the Commandant capitalizes on his madness to bolster her own power. As Helene searches for a way to hold back the approaching darkness, her sister’s life and the lives of all those in the Empire hang in the balance.

Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court, but in stopping the Nightbringer. But while hunting for a way to bring him down, Laia faces unexpected threats from those she hoped would aid her, and is drawn into a battle she never thought she’d have to fight.

And in the land between the living and the dead, Elias Veturius has given up his freedom to serve as Soul Catcher. But in doing so, he has vowed himself to an ancient power that will stop at nothing to ensure Elias’s devotion–even at the cost of his humanity.

 

 

 

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So new year, new fandoms!!! I was determined to finish this series as soon as possible so I made the Reaper my first 2019 read! I was not let down.

Unlike the previous book, the third installment has everything I want in a book. Good plot, character development, twists and good villains.

There writing kept me on my toes and even though I still can barely tolerate Laia I enjoyed the ride. Let’s talk character development. I believe Helene Aquilla had the best development in the whole book. Helene is my favorite character in the entire series, quickly followed by the villains.

 

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I am totally and utterly mesmerized by the Nightbringer. He is one of my favorite antiheroes ever and his chapters were a real joy to read.

Then comes the Commandant who is as good a villain as they come. I still cannot figure Keris out and that is a good thing!

Then we have Marcus, the sadistic Emperor who, for some insane reason, made the book all the more perfect for me. Don’t judge.

Elias. He is an honest and good hero but one who has let me a bit…uninterested. It is strange how disconnected I am with the two main characters but Laia is the one I dislike.

Why? Well because she reads immature and shallow. Yes, yes, there is a bit character development for her too in the third book but still. The romance between Elias and her is so underdeveloped that feels forced in most of their interactions.

Still, Elias is a far better hero  than her.

 

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His journey is quite a thrilling one and I cannot wait to see where the author is going to take us next.

Overall, this was a great reading experience, with amazing secondary characters, shudder inducing villains and magic! This is the best book in the series and I cannot wait for the last book!

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

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New Review: A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

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A Torch Against the Night

(An Ember in the Ashes #2)

Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.

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Okay, I am going to be honest…This book was one of the slowest books I’ve ever read. Literally, nothing really interested me and I will plainly say that I dislike Laia. There, I said it. She is one most shallow characters I’ve ever had the bad luck of reading about. I had many problems with this book and if it hadn’t been for the last few chapters my rating would have been much lower.

The first half of the book was a real pain to get through. The author has some really interesting ideas but everything collapses because of how superficial her characters read to me. Not all of them but the one who matters, Laia-since she is the main protagonist-really  disappointed me. I have no interest to read about her and if it wasn’t for Helene, Elias and the Commandant, yes even the Commandant is more important, I would have abandoned ship!

Also, The Nightbringer … He is the light at the end of the tunnel! I will say no more.

So, this book has a lot of issues in my humble opinion but…There is a but. The last fifty pages or so made up for how bleak the rest of the book was.  We finally get some action, we finally get to see where the plot is going and we finally feel some emotion!

Do not get me wrong, the writing is good, the idea is good but the character development is not the best. There are some unnecessary tropes or rather…the tropes are not properly built to have any real effect on the reader…For instance, the triangle that appears out of thin air. Just no.

And no, I do not mean the Helene/Elias/Laia one…

Still, there are a few memorable scenes and I have to say that Helene is the best character in the series.

 

“But you are not finished. You are my masterpiece, Helene Aquilla, but I have just begun. If you survive, you shall be a force to be reckoned with in this world. But first you will be unmade. First, you will be broken.” 

Most people,” Cain says, “are nothing but glimmers in the great darkness of time. But you, Helene Aquilla, are no swift-burning spark. You are a torch against the night—if you dare to let yourself burn.” 

 

The author creates some unique elements of magic and Elias’ fate is totally refreshing. Overall, I struggled but in the end I was somewhat pleased by the developments.

On to Reaper at the Gates.

 

🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

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Posted in Best of 2018, fantasy, Favorite Authors, Χωρίς κατηγορία, Personal Favorites Favorite Authors, review, reviews | Leave a comment

Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes

(An Ember in the Ashes #1)

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

 

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“Fear is only your enemy if you allow it to be.” 
So, this is a series that had been in my  TBR for ages. I finally decided to start them and I a m not disappointed!
 Sabaa Tahir’s writing is not your usual flowery fantasy prose. No, it feels much more mature and somber and I simply loved it. The whole book feels like a dark descent into danger. The diversity of characters is simply mesmerising. Laia, the girl who is out not to save the world but her brother. She is not brave, she doesn’t have a special skill-yet- but she is determined to enter the Empire’s most dangerous school in order to locate her brother Darin.
“I never feared the night, not even as a child, but Blackcliff’s night is different, heavy with a silence that makes you look over your shoulder, a silence that feels like a living thing.” 
There we find Elias-a famous Mask- who is as much an unwilling pupil as Laia is an unwilling hero.
“You are an ember in the ashes, Elias Veturius. You will spark and burn, ravage and destroy. You cannot change it. You cannot stop it.”
We have a great set of heroes but one of the most memorable is Helene Aquilla, Elias’ best friend. Also trained to be a Mask for the Empire she plays a pivotal role in the book.
“The field of battle is my temple. The swordpoint is my priest. The dance of death is my prayer. The killing blow is my release.” 
We have danger, adventure, romance and a noteworthy villain. The Commandant is probably one of the worst villains ever written in fantasy literature… And she is a woman and Elias’ mother.
You love to hate her.
The first installment sets the pace and as I finished the book I realized that I was wrong to wait so long to start these books. The idea is so fresh that you cannot help but admire the author ‘s skill.
I recommend  it.
🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Posted in Best of 2018, fantasy, Favorite Authors, Χωρίς κατηγορία, Personal Favorites Favorite Authors, review, reviews | Leave a comment

New Review: Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas

‘I am Aelin Ashryver Galathynious and I will not be afraid.’

Confession time: The Throne of Glass series is probably my favorite Maas series to date. Don’t get me wrong, I fangirl hard over her Court of Thorns & Roses series as well because let’s not forget that she can write some of the most amazing male characters out there, but Throne of Glass has a special place in my heart.

So, Kingdom of Ash was probably my most anticipated fantasy release of 2018! And I was not disappointed despite the length of the book.

 

 

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Kingdom of Ash

(Throne of Glass #7)

Years in the making, Sarah J. Maas’s #1 New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series draws to an epic, unforgettable conclusion. Aelin Galathynius’s journey from slave to king’s assassin to the queen of a once-great kingdom reaches its heart-rending finale as war erupts across her world. . .

Aelin has risked everything to save her people―but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. Aware that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, though her resolve begins to unravel with each passing day…

With Aelin captured, Aedion and Lysandra remain the last line of defense to protect Terrasen from utter destruction. Yet they soon realize that the many allies they’ve gathered to battle Erawan’s hordes might not be enough to save them. Scattered across the continent and racing against time, Chaol, Manon, and Dorian are forced to forge their own paths to meet their fates. Hanging in the balance is any hope of salvation―and a better world.

And across the sea, his companions unwavering beside him, Rowan hunts to find his captured wife and queen―before she is lost to him forever.

As the threads of fate weave together at last, all must fight, if they are to have a chance at a future. Some bonds will grow even deeper, while others will be severed forever in the explosive final chapter of the Throne of Glass series. 

As a reader and as a fan I got the finale I was waiting for. The book was extremely long and it felt forced in some places BUT I cannot deny that the author managed to make me shed a few tears in quite a few scenes.
Even though Aelin stopped my favorite female character in the series a couple of books back, I still enjoyed her journey. Manon Blackbeak has my heart! Her and Abraxos were probably two of my favorite things in the book.
I also lived for the Lorcan & Elide chapters! They were probably my favorite couple in the books. Chaol’s chapters also made my reading experience such a joy. Although Dorian had the best character development in the whole series! His personality evolved so much over the course of the novels.
We get magic, we get schemes, adventure, clever dialogue and romance! The writing was fabulous and even though the novel could have been shorter I adored it.
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I cannot wait to see what Mrs. Maas has in store for us next!
Also, can we get a Dorian & Manon book, please?
🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Posted in Best of 2018, fantasy, Favorite Authors, highly anticipated books, Personal Favorites Favorite Authors, review, reviews, Romance Top Favorites, suspense | Leave a comment