First Lines Friday | 11/19/21

Hello Lovely Readers!

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!
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“They rode for hours, through the night and into the dawn, stopping for nothing, not even to rest the horses. They knew what hunted them. A threat that could neither be seen nor heard nor felt, until one turned around and there it was. Too late to run then. Plague was spread through the air, you see. Everyone knew this.”

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The book is….

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I just finished this one last night (stayed up past my bedtime to do it!) and knew I had to share the first lines today. This has been the highest rated book for me this month. It’s just so good and the writing is amazing!

Have you read this book? Do you want to read it?

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)
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Arc Review: Isn’t It Bromantic? (Bromance Book Club #4) by Lyssa Kay Adams

Title: Isn’t It Bromantic? (Bromance Book Club #4)
Author: Lyssa Kay Adams
Genre: Adult Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: July 20th, 2021
Publisher: Berkley
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an earc to read in exchange for a review!

With his passion for romance novels, it was only a matter of time before Vlad wrote one.

Elena Konnikova has lived her entire adult life in the shadows. As the daughter of a Russian journalist who mysteriously disappeared, she escaped danger the only way she knew how: She married her childhood friend, Vladimir, and moved to the United States, where he is a professional hockey player in Nashville.

Vlad, aka the Russian, thought he could be content with his marriage of convenience. But it’s become too difficult to continue in a one-sided relationship. He joined the Bromance Book Club to learn how to make his wife love him, but all he’s learned is that he deserves more. He’s ready to create his own sweeping romance—both on and off the page.

The bros are unwilling to let Vlad forgo true love—and this time they’re not operating solo. They join forces with Vlad’s neighbors, a group of meddling widows who call themselves the Loners. But just when things finally look promising, Elena’s past life intrudes and their happily ever after is cast into doubt.” (Goodreads)

From the beginning of this series, I loved the Russian aka Vlad. He was humorous and romantic. I’m so glad that the author decided to give him his own book because he deserves all the love and happiness that this book had to offer!

One thing I always enjoy about these books is the dual point-of-view. We already know Vlad but we know nothing about his mysterious wife, Elena. I liked getting to know her and the feelings she has towards Vlad both before and after their marriage of convenience. Also that trope was exceptional in this book!

Elena is very passionate about journalism and uncovering her father’s truth that is connected with his disappearance. When it comes to this series, this was the most intense. I do like seeing the continual theme of how women can be poorly treated whether it’s a work environment or being trafficked from another country in hopes for a better future. Trafficking is such an important issue and I’m glad to see it get page time.

Vlad is the best cinnamon roll in the world. His love life wasn’t what I was expecting at all but it made me appreciate him more. I also love his love for animals because it’s exactly how I am, haha. Give me all the animals! His life doesn’t just revolve around hockey either. Since Vlad is passionate about romance novels, he has decided to write his own. It’s always nice to get snippets of what the men are reading or in this case, working on.

Their relationship is rocky from the beginning. They tiptoe around one another and don’t have the best communication. I loved seeing them work through their problems slowly and get the help they need from those around them.

Another trope I loved in this book was the found family. Not only is the Bromance Book Club always there for their members but Vlad also had another group made up of ladies who had lost their husbands and were alone. They also came to the rescue for his marriage and worked with Elena. It just gave me all the feelings.

Overall, this was my favorite book so far. I’m glad I finally sat down to read it as it was so worth it! I am curious if there will be more books. I feel like there was a hint at a new relationship but only time will tell!

Book Review: Fae Captive (Tangled Fae Book #2) by Sarah K.L. Wilson

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Title: Fae Captive (Tangled Fae Book #2)
Author: Sarah K.L. Wilson
Genre: Fantasy
Publication Date: February 13th, 2020
Publisher: Self-Published
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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“Think you could craft the perfect bargain?
From USA Today bestselling author Sarah K. L. Wilson comes the second book in this stunning new fantasy series.
Allie Hunter thought all she had to do was make an exchange to buy back her father’s life. She was wrong. Mortals are so often wrong about the Faewald. Usually, that kills them, or mires them in bargains that will suck their life out sip by sip.

With Allie caught in a cage and the Fae she had once tormented her new captor, can she strike the right bargain to save everything she loves?

For lovers of The Cruel Prince and An Enchantment of Ravens comes a world of violent fae royals, trickery, and magic. Grab the second book of this hot new series today!(Goodreads)

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I have been waiting for this book since I finished the first in January. Besides Acotar, this is my favorite book about Fae. They are more cunning and cruel then the others I have read about and I am so here for it! When I saw it was available sooner than I had originally thought I couldn’t resist diving in straight away.

Allie and Scouvrel are back. Allie is still determined as ever to but obviously he isn’t going to let her go just yet. I like how the first book was about him stuck in the cage and second book is all about her being stuck. It’s fun to see both sides of the coin. Their banter is stronger than ever and there feelings are definitely changing between each other. I mean, I wouldn’t be able to resist him even if he does use a glamour. He is just so irresistable!

The plot keeps ramping up and more is at stake. We also get more from Allie’s sister and I can tell you right now, I do not like her one bit. I really hope she ends up getting what she deserves. There are more than one plot twist and it’s amazing how this author can pack so much into a smaller book. Mad props!

This series is one that has grasped onto me and won’t let go. The world building is done well and the changing of the setting is always exciting. I love that even though a few days pass in the fae realm but time works different and it could be more in the mortal realm. This plays out at the end and man, that ending was intense! I can’t wait to see how this will all turn out.

Overall, I can’t help but love this series. It gets better and better with each book and I am sure that book three will be no exception. Hold on to your feelings, folks!

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

Book Review: The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War #2) by R.F. Kuang

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Title: The Dragon Republic
Author: R.F. Kuang
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Publication Date: Aug. 6th, 2019
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

eARC provided by publisher through NetGalley. All opinions are my own. I have also read this again on my own accord.

“The searing follow-up to 2018’s most celebrated fantasy debut – THE POPPY WAR.

In the aftermath of the Third Poppy War, shaman and warrior Rin is on the run: haunted by the atrocity she committed to end the war, addicted to opium, and hiding from the murderous commands of her vengeful god, the fiery Phoenix. Her only reason for living is to get revenge on the traitorous Empress who sold out Nikan to their enemies.

With no other options, Rin joins forces with the powerful Dragon Warlord, who has a plan to conquer Nikan, unseat the Empress, and create a new Republic. Rin throws herself into his war. After all, making war is all she knows how to do.

But the Empress is a more powerful foe than she appears, and the Dragon Warlord’s motivations are not as democratic as they seem. The more Rin learns, the more she fears her love for Nikan will drive her away from every ally and lead her to rely more and more on the Phoenix’s deadly power. Because there is nothing she won’t sacrifice for her country and her vengeance.

The sequel to R.F. Kuang’s acclaimed debut THE POPPY WAR, THE DRAGON REPUBLIC combines the history of 20th-century China with a gripping world of gods and monsters, to devastating effect.” (Goodreads)

Sometimes it is hard for sequels to live up to the first book. I had high hopes for this book because I fell in love with the characters and the writing of the author. Let me tell you, this book exceeded my expectations!

Rin finds herself in the aftermath of war. She is filled with emotions because of it and at times those emotions lead her to make some poor decisions. Grief and loss are powerful things to deal with. Throughout the book she is developing more and more because of what she has gone through and the knowledge she comes to know. It makes her a stronger person and helps her create bonds with the ones who have always been at her side.

Characters from the first book come back and new characters are also introduced. I loved the development of some that didn’t get much page time in the first. I also enjoyed Vaisra who at times becomes the voice of reason for Rin.

As for the plot, it is dark, bloody, and full of battles on land and sea. It is heartbreaking, raw, and draws you in. I wouldn’t expect anything else from this series. It takes a lot to get through but it is such a thought provoking series that I think everyone should read.

I will be anxiously waiting for the third book in the series. If you haven’t picked up The Poppy War yet, go read it so you can pick up The Dragon Republic!

Arc Review: Southern Sun, Northern Star (Glass Alliance #3) by Joanna Hathaway

Title: Southern Sun, Northern Star (Glass Alliance #3)
Author: Joanna Hathaway
Genre: YA Fantasy / Historical Fiction
Publication Date: April 20th, 2021
Publisher: Tor Teen
Rating: 5 Stars

Thank you so much to the publisher and netgalley for an earc to read in exchange for a review!

Battles, revolution, and romance collide in Joanna Hathaway’s stunning, World Wars-inspired Southern Sun, Northern Star

Reeling from the tragedy that beset her family, Princess Aurelia has joined the resistance in Havenspur, spying on the Northern leaders who were once her allies and determined to stop her uncle’s machinations for war. Meanwhile, her beloved pilot Athan leads his squadron into battle as the Safire wage a losing war abroad and combat growing unrest back home.

When Athan is sent on leave to Havenspur following the death of a comrade, the pair reunite and rekindle their romance until Aurelia uncovers one of Athan’s secrets, a secret that could save countless lives. But exposing it to the right people will cost her Athan’s trust, and this time, their shared memories of love might not be enough to stop the fateful path of destruction that threatens all they’ve fought to defend.

As history unfolds around them, every move they make drives them one step closer to either recreating their parents’ shadowed past or redeeming the alliance that could bring peace.

The breathtaking finale to a legendary series. Part war drama, part romance, Southern Sun, Northern Star is the epic conclusion to the Glass Alliance series.” (Goodreads)

I am not even sure where to start with this review. I have many thoughts and I went through a whirlwind of feelings but I will do my best to type it out and hopefully it makes sense.

In the beginning, there is a prologue and I wasn’t sure how it fit into it all but it does show us the tragedy of war and that is quite fitting for this entire book.

As with the other books, there are two point-of-views: Athan and Aurelia. There is also a surprise one (besides the prologue) that is found much later in the book. I enjoyed being back in Athan’s and Aurelia’s mind. This time it was much different as war has really changed them both, especially Aurelia.

Aurelia aka Ali has seen and been through a lot through the course of the books. I have felt for her so many times but it was hard at times to like her in this one. She did a lot of things that didn’t fit who she was but it also made sense as war changes everyone. She had good intentions, but sometimes good intentions lead to bad results.

Athan is the same old pilot we know and love. He is out there doing his job and I loved reading about the plane fight scenes even if they were brutal at times. Thinking about it now, I would say that he has grown and in a good way. As with Aurelia, he wanted what was best for his people. He did have good intentions as well and again, some led to bad results. It’s easy to see the similarities between them, but at the same time he knew where his loyalty was. I couldn’t always say the same for Aurelia.

The romance between them wasn’t as big as the other two books but it worked well for the plot as it focuses more on their jobs and being away from each other. Aurelia doesn’t always make it easy on Athan to love her but he still sticks by her no matter what. I will say that he is very dedicated because I definitely wouldn’t have been so understanding in a few of the situations. I still can’t deny their love though. It’s one of my favorites.

With war comes violence and tragic losses. I’m trying not to cry just writing this out, ha. I was worried who would head to the grave and I definitely felt the losses. I cried for one and it wasn’t even for the one I was most upset about! This is a very brutal book and it will tug at your heartstrings.

When it came to the pacing, there was a few slow moments but it wasn’t hard to continue on because I needed to know what would happen next.

The ending was not what I expected and had me in tears. Don’t worry it was for a good reason!

Overall, I loved this book! It’s hard to put into words what I feel for it. As the finale for a trilogy, it’s hard to say goodbye to the characters and the journey they have taken to get here. I have loved each book dearly. I know these books will remain on my shelf for many, many years and I also know I will revisit them one day down the road.

E-Arc Review: With You All the Way by Cynthia Hand

Title: With You All the Way
Author: Cynthia Hand
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: March 30th, 2021
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an earc to read in exchange for a review!




“Ada’s life is a mess. She just caught her boyfriend cheating on her after a humiliating attempt at losing her virginity, and she’s had it up to here with her gorgeous older sister’s unsolicited advice.

But things really hit the fan during a family vacation in Hawaii, where Ada discovers her own mother is having an affair. Apparently, everyone is falling into bed with people they shouldn’t. Everyone except Ada. But when Ada decides she’s going to stop trying and start doing—sex, that is—her best laid plan overlooks an inconvenient truth:

Feelings, romantic or not, always get in the way.” (Goodreads)

After reading the blurb for this book, I felt like it was going to be an impactful read about a family and let me tell you, it didn’t disappoint. This book is so relatable and realistic, even as an adult.

Ada’s a character I saw myself as when I was teen. She is new in the relationship department and things just aren’t going well. Everything that happens to her is realistic and honestly has happened to me but just a bit different. It was so easy to understand how she felt.

At that age (the MC is sixteen), we want to make adult decisions and we also think that we are the only one with a messed up life. I mean, I still have days where I feel like I am the only one just living at the bottom of a dark hole but when it comes to adult decisions, I just don’t want to make them, ha. It’s easy to look at your siblings and parents and think everything is going right for them because we don’t know any better. I loved that this book showed us both sides of the coin. In a family there will be fighting among siblings and even parents, sometimes it both and this book doesn’t shy away from that. What matters is getting it all out, being understanding, and realizing that life for anyone isn’t perfect.

This book does talk about sex a lot but I liked the way the author talked about it when it came to the characters. There are really great messages included.

Even though I figured certain things out, it didn’t stop me from loving this book. I loved the characters and the plot.

Honestly, I am not even sure if this review makes sense or if I have even given this book justice. All I can say is that I loved it and hopefully you will too.

E-Arc Review: The Last Secret You’ll Ever Keep by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Title: The Last Secret You’ll Ever Keep
Author: Laurie Faria Stolarz
Genre: YA Mystery / Thriller / Contemporary
Publication Date: March 16th, 2021
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an earc to read in exchange for a review!




Bestselling author Laurie Faria Stolarz returns with a thrilling novel where an eighteen-year-old girl’s search for answers lands her in one of the most terrifying situations imaginable.

Four days…
Trapped in a well, surrounded by dirt, scratching at the walls trying to find a way out.
Four days of a thirst so strong, that when it finally rains, I drink as much as possible from the dripping walls, not even caring how much dirt comes with it.

Six months…
Since my escape. Since no one believed I was taken to begin with – from my own bed, after a party, when no one else was home…
Six months of trying to find answers and being told instead that I made the whole incident up.

One month…
Since I logged on to the Jane Anonymous site for the first time and found a community of survivors who listen without judgment, provide advice, and console each other when needed.
A month of chatting with a survivor whose story eerily mirrors my own: a girl who’s been receiving triggering clues, just like me, and who could help me find the answers I’m searching for.

Three days…
Since she mysteriously disappears, and since I’m forced to ask the questions: will my chance to find out what happened to me vanish with her? And will I be next?” (Goodreads)

When I saw that there would be a companion novel for Jane Anonymous I just knew I had to read it. That book I read in one sitting because it was too good to put down and I needed to know how everything would unravel. The Last Secret You’ll Ever Keep was no different!

The beginning of the book sets up the plot and introduces us to Terra who is the main character. After being kidnapped and with nobody to believe her, she learns about a site called Jane Anonymous where victims of crime-related trauma can talk with others who have dealt with similar issues.

The website is really the only connection to the first book and I was okay with that because the website does play a huge role and I really enjoyed the mixed format of this book as there are chat messages included. Another thing I liked about the format was that the chapters are split into past and present. It helps to build the full story of what happened to Terra and how much of an impact it has made on her life.

There is nothing more I love than a plot that keeps me invested from start to finish. This one really delivered and had me questioning everyone that talked to Terra. I think what also makes the plot even crazier is that Terra is also seen as an unreliable narrator because of her past. She also doesn’t make the best decisions at times and it made me want to shake her but I can also understand her perspective. She has been through a lot and when everyone thinks you are a liar, you want to do everything to prove them wrong. I definitely wasn’t expecting that ending and had to take a break from reading because it was becoming too much for my poor soul, haha.

When it came to the minor characters, I can’t say I felt too much. Her aunt could be a lot at times and I can understand why their relationship wasn’t good. Everyone else I just kept questioning their motives.

There are great messages that can be found through this book and the biggest one I can’t say because spoilers. You’ll have to read it to find out!

Overall, I really loved this book and can’t wait to see what else this author writes and I need to check out her other works. She definitely knows how to get the heart pumping!

Book Review: Good Girl, Bad Blood (A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder #2) by Holly Jackson

Title: Good Girl, Bad Blood (A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder #2)
Author: Holly Jackson
Genre: YA Mystery / Thriller / Contemporary
Publication Date: April 30th, 2020
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The highly-anticipated crime-thriller sequel to the no. 1 debut of 2019, A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder

Pip Fitz-Amobi is not a detective anymore.

With the help of Ravi Singh, she released a true-crime podcast about the murder case they solved together last year. The podcast has gone viral, yet Pip insists her investigating days are behind her.

But she will have to break that promise when someone she knows goes missing. Jamie Reynolds has disappeared but the police won’t do anything about it. And if they won’t look for Jamie then Pip will, uncovering more of her town’s dark secrets along the way… and this time EVERYONE is listening.

But will she find him before it’s too late?” (Goodreads)

I’ve had this one on my shelf since last year after buying it from Book Depository because it hasn’t been published in the US yet. I loved the first book and was really excited to dive into the next but time slips away and it remained unread, haha.

Luckily, I finally found time to read it and although it took a bit longer for me to feel immersed in the story I really enjoyed it!

After solving her first case, Pip decides that she will not continue because she becomes obsessed with searching for the truth and will only have one season for her podcast. That is until someone she knows, and brother of a friend, goes missing.

As with the first book, this one has all sorts of different formats from interview transcripts to emails, and even a court sketch for a trial her and Ravi are covering. It’s fun to see all these different elements.

The beginning has sort of a prologue to help bridge the gap from the first book to the beginning of her new case which I also liked.

Pip is always interesting to read about because once she wants to find out the truth, she doesn’t stop. This leads her into dangerous situations for her and her friends. We also get to see her in a different light when things aren’t going as expected and she reaches her breaking point. It makes her even more realistic and it’s easy to feel what she is feeling.

The plot in the beginning did take a bit for me to get into. I will also say that this one just didn’t feel as thrilling as the first either but it did pick up for me over halfway through. There are some intense plot twists that I never saw coming and honestly, that ending was insane! I really didn’t expect it and it’s always a joy when that happens. The plot does cover certain events from book one as well as new ones. Old characters are back and new characters appear. It also talks about topics such as a broken justice system, catfishing, and another topic I won’t mention because spoilers! They were all done well and definitely get the emotions pumping.

Overall, I really enjoyed this one but not as much as the first. It was still a fantastic book and I can’t wait for the next in the series! I am hooked when it comes to this author.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Made Me Laugh Out Loud (2/23/21)

Hello, Lovely Bookworms!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018.

Today’s prompt is Books That Made Me Laugh Out Loud. It doesn’t happen often where I laugh because of a book, but when it does it’s simply the best! But to be honest, I think book make me cry more than anything, haha. This list took me a bit to compile.

1.) Would Like to Meet by Rachel Winter

2.) Every Reason We Shouldn’t by Sara Fujimura

3.) The Devil Does Exist by Mitsuba Takanashi (whole manga series)

4.) Maid-Sama by Hiro Fujiwara (whole manga series)

5.) The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones (silly goat!)

6.) Yona of the Dawn by Mizuho Kusanagi (whole manga series(Specifically this volume!))

7.) Meet Me in Paradise by Libby Hubscher

8.) The Tourist Attraction by Sarah Morgenthaler

9.) Mistletoe and Mr. Right by Sarah Morganthaler

10.) The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

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What book made you laugh out loud?

Let me know in the comments below!

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

Audiobook Review: Beneath the Haunting Sea by Joanna Ruth Meyer

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Title: Beneath the Haunting Sea
Author: Joanna Ruth Meyer
Genre: YA Fantasy/Mythology
Publication Date: January 9th, 2018
Publisher: Page Street YA
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


Can’t you hear it, Talia?
Can’t you hear the waves singing?

Sixteen-year-old Talia was born to a life of certainty and luxury, destined to become Empress of half the world. But when an ambitious rival seizes power, she and her mother are banished to a nowhere province on the far edge of the Northern Sea.

It is here, in the drafty halls of the Ruen-Dahr, that Talia discovers family secrets, a melancholy boy with a troubling vision of her future, and a relic that holds the power of an ancient Star. On these shores, the eerie melody of the sea is stronger than ever, revealing long-forgotten tales of the Goddess Rahn. The more dark truths that Talia unravels about the gods’ history–and her own–the more the waves call to her, and it may be her destiny to answer.” (Goodreads)

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Edit: I just finished rereading this but this time I listened to it and thoroughly enjoyed the audiobook. The narrator does a great job of differing the voices and I just loved how it felt listening to the mythology of the gods from the book. It was well done and my thoughts still stand as my original review. Wen is the sweetest cinna-roll ever and I love him!

The only reason I knew this book existed was because of NetGalley and seeing the sequel on there. The sequel sounded interesting and so I decided to request it knowing that I would need to read the first. Usually, this could be a very bad thing. I am glad that it worked out and that I enjoyed this book! It was different than what I thought it would be and I only had a couple minor issues with the book overall.

Talia was a character that had to deal with a lot bad things. I’m not really sure how she managed to stay so strong through it all because I would have been a wreck. Even when things begin to look up, something else happens and she still held her head high. I liked that about her. There were a couple times that I wanted to yell at her and tell her how selfish she was being but I think that everything she was doing was to be expected. She was stubborn and didn’t want to do what others told her to do. I probably would have made the same choices as her, to be honest. My one gripe with her was how she quickly forgave this other girl and laid the blame all on Caiden even though the girl was the mastermind behind what was happening.

As for the other characters, I loved Wen and Caiden. Any book with brothers is a plus for me! They were both different since Wen was quiet and Caiden was bold and very charming. They each had their faults at times and when I thought I knew who I wanted her to be with, the other brother becomes so irresistable! Now, I will say that the relationships in the book can be considered insta-love. Did I hate it? No, because that brother is just so dang charming! (I couldn’t resist it!)

There are other characters that are introduced throughout and the one thing I didn’t like about the minor characters was needing more from a few. Once their plot point had run its course then they were done. There was closure but I am just set in my ways and I needed more!

The book is filled with plot twists that involve love triangles, family drama, and a sea that calls which can drive you to madness. It was easy to get swept away and it made it real hard to put down even when it was time for bed. I will say that the ending was anti-climatic and definitely my least favorite part of the book. I just needed more action or something from someone who was supposed to be quite powerful.

The one thing that really pulled me into this book was the world building. The author did a great job of creating it and adding stories of the old gods to help bring everything together and let the reader understand why it was all so important. As someone who loves mythology, this was perfect!

Overall, this book was enjoyable and I would definitely recommend it!