Bad Mommy by Tarryn Fisher

“I can make you part of something great and beautiful and still portray you as the ugly thing you are”

badmommy_amazon_ibooks Tarryn Fisher does what Tarryn Fisher does best – she plays with your psyche and makes you think.

If you plan on reading and interpreting this book literally, you might feel letdown. This book has so much symbolism in it and the best thing about TF books is that they are so fun to dissect afterwards.

The first few chapters of the book felt a bit disconnected and I was on edge to see where it will pick up. It’s so confusing and tiresome to be inside the head of a crazy. But once it picked up, there’s no putting it down. Tarryn played with the mind and emotions and allowed us to take apart the raw, ugly and flawed mold of her characters.

Her characters can be me.

They can also be you.

And that’s what creeps me out.

How many friends do we have? How many people do we know? Do we really know them to the core? Do we know them, truly? Will be trust them with everything and everyone we hold dear?

At the end of the book, I cannot say who was worse, Fig or Darius. I cannot choose between a sociopath and a psychopath and what creeps me out is that these kinds of people are those who look normal, who seem normal and those usually just within our vicinity.

Fig is a leech and legit crazy. She sees something she wants, competes to have what she wants then aims to replace the person she sees is undeserving of what she has. She is complex, demented, careful and thorough. She makes plans and executes them to her liking.

On the other hand, Darius is a master manipulator, a cheat and a liar. He has awareness of his actions but still pushes through without taking ownership. She professes love but destroys and hurts them to serve his own agenda. I always try to see something redeeming when I read about villains, but there’s nothing for these two. The worst thing is that their kind do not show any form of remorse and not even the least bit apologetic for their actions.

Lastly, my favorite POV, Jolene.

Jolene is the writer, Jolene is Bad Mommy.

** And no, this is not a spoiler, you will learn this almost immediately.

She has a ginormous and welcoming heart which sometimes prevents her from recognizing and accepting truths. Her biggest weapon was her heart but it was also her biggest weakness.

This book made me think how many people I have encountered and if any of them have been sociopathic, psychotic or both. I’ve said that I had a Fig before, not as destructive as our Bad Mommy’s Fig but this story made me realize that Figs are real and should not be ignored.

Don’t ask me what genre this is. My answer will always be the same. Tarryn’s books exist on a whole different genre for themselves. Writing wise, it’s exceptional and captivating. You have to really look deeper to see the mind games and psychological flaws of these characters.

I devour Tarryn’s books because you won’t find like books anywhere. She’s the only one. Her books and stories are never normal, sometimes uncomfortable, mostly thought provoking but always, ALWAYS consuming. Her words will always push you to your mind’s limits and will really make you think and understand. People will say that it wasn’t what they expected and that’s basically it. The moment Tarryn writes books that we HAVE EXPECTED, then that’s not Tarryn anymore.

Now what are you waiting for. Bad Mommy and Fig, they’re both waiting.

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4 FIGGIN’ STARS!

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The Demon in the Wood by Leigh Bardugo

Before he became the Darkling, he was just a lonely boy of extraordinary power.

I was truly intriguThe Demon in the Wood.jpged by the Darkling’s history and though I don’t see myself rooting for him anytime soon, I felt empathy (YES, YOU READ THAT RIGHT!!!) and compassion towards the child that was the Darkling. Without giving thought to the adult (is adult EVEN the right term for his age?!) that he has become and just thinking of him as the child, it’s impossible not to feel sadness and remorse for what happened to him. All he wanted was acceptance and belongingness. He wasn’t an instant villain. All the villain-ness came from a deep rooted past of not being accepted in his harsh childhood. Another interesting facet of this short story is the Darkling’s close relationship with his mother making me wonder how their dynamics changed and evolved.

Only 30 pages BUT filled with so much depth and revelations.

Now I know why Leigh’s writing gets all the hype.

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Ten Below Zero by Whitney Barbetti

“I so desperately wanted to be his gravity, to hold him on this earth and keep him from leaving me.”

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What prompted me to read this book is the number of readers with like interests and genres loving this and being the stalkerish bish that I am, I decided to read it once and for all.

I started it.

I finished it.

That’s it.

I wish I’m not writing this review right now but I’m never one to beat around the bush so here goes.

The premise is intriguing and right up my alley. Broken souls, scarred humans ~ finding friendship and love in such an unlikely place and time. It’s supposedly made for readers to feel all the broken feels but to me, it just fell flat.

I found no love for Parker. I tried, I really tried to work around her character, see beyond her flaws but I just can’t connect with her. She’s rude and detached and it was only on the very last pages that I glimpsed warmth and emotions from her. Speaking of rude, the “rude thing” banter between the two of them was sort of cute at first but got old real fast. I’m not sure if it was meant to showcase more of Parker’s character and personality but there was one scene when she was acting as a decoy which felt unnecessary to me. 

On the other hand, I know Everett was supposed to be another tortured soul I should empathize with but with his POV lacking, I just can’t get into his head. I am like only half-heartedly with him. There were times when he starts to grow on me but no, not going there.

Despite my issues with the characters, there were also things about this book that I really liked. First, I love the message that it’s trying to convey – fighting for your happiness and fighting for your life. This book is basically is basically the voice of two numb souls who had their second chance at life and love. Second, I did enjoyed the twist, well not really a twist but a semblance of explanation to some questions I had along the way and also, that ending basically salvaged what I thought has been a weary read.

PLUS, you cannot ignore all the quotable quotes scattered all throughout the story. I lost count how many I have marked. 

Another thing I’d like to point out is that I felt like while reading, I was subconsciously comparing it to another book with quite a similar theme and premise – The Edge of Never, if you’re curious and just so you know, I loved the hell out of that book.

I’m not particularly sure how I felt about the writing – some parts were good, some felt a bit choppy. I didn’t love it as much as I hoped I would and had the urge to put it down a number of times. The ending was better than the entire story. The last few pages were so emotion filled and just raw and powerful. I wish that I felt just as strongly while reading the whole book. I know A LOT of people who loved this but maybe this is not the book for me. I did enjoy reading it but I was more of an audience looking in rather than being one and connecting to the story. 

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Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

“The problem with wanting is that it makes us weak.”

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I was checking the list of books I have read for this year and saw that I am truly behind in fantasy. Like way, wayyyyyyyy behind. For this year, I have only read A Court of Thorns and Roses, A Court of Mist and Fury, The Wrath and the Dawn and the TWAD novellas. And that’s it. I was planning to remedy this before the year ends so I got the Six and Crows-Crooked Kingdom duology.

I was about to dive in but I was talking to a friend who is also an OC reader and from our conversation, we decided to start with the Grisha trilogy first before jumping into SoC and CK. We know it’s different stories but the worlds are the same.

Anyway, enough of my intro-slash-explanation. I have heard so much praise for Leigh Bardugo and being the hype-averse type of reader that I am, I tend to ignore. But eventually, I decided to give in. Heck, everyone I know is reading her books and I wanted to see for myself.

There is no denying Leigh’s talent. She is beyond good and I can see why so many readers got lost in the world/s she has created. This woman has created an entirely different universe, far beyond the scope of my imagination. It’s a dark, intriguing place and I was hooked.

Given, I’m in a rather busy stage of my life right now and it took me a while to finish this but there was VERY  MINIMAL TIME when I felt disconnected to the story or the characters. On the contrary, I was reeled in and I couldn’t wait to find out what happens next.

Alina is a likable heroine, not exactly my favourite but she has her strengths. There were certain parts of the story when I felt the YA-ish texture of the novel especially on Alina’s vanity moments. At first, I pegged her for being weak but she redeemed herself in the end. She actually showed that she can be feisty and strong yet her heart is in the right place. She started out as a lost girl, unsure of where she stands and what her purpose is. Eventually, she found her strength and drive and I loved the Alina that emerged from the power. I do hope I get to see more of this side in the next books.

Mal on the other hand is my guy. Alright, at this point I ship Mal and Alina. He is loyal to the core and would do anything for her and their friendship/relationship. At this point, I’m not sure where they stand but Mal is an okay guy and I would love to know more about him. There’s not much said about him and his background and I feel like I need to know more, I want to know him more. 

Probably, the most interesting for me is the Darkling. I know I’m supposed to loathe him after what went down in the end but there’s a big mystery and story surrounding his character. I can feel it. I can tell there’s more to him and that his role in this trilogy is essential.

With those things I have loved about this book, there are also some things that I found lacking. These are not really big issues, but these prevented me from giving it more stars.

For starters, I was actually looking forward to a lot of action, a lot of high intensity fight scenes but I only got a few. I’m not sure where this expectation of mine came from but I was not expecting a lot of narratives about cliques, mean girls, gossip, and who is prettiest and who is most popular. It swayed from the dark and intriguing vibe of the premise.

Also, I felt like I was blindly thrown into the world without any guide at all and I had to look different words up to grasp what I was reading. It was a few chapters in before I felt the connection to the book. 

Despite its flaws and my indifference to some of the characters, I liked, no scratch that, I L-O-V-E-D Bardugo’s writing. It was easy to read and captivating and definitely the main factor why I’m keeping the next books in my TBR list.

3.5 SHADOW FOLD STARS

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Hearts in Darkness by Laura Kaye

“Sometimes distance was easier than acting, or explaining.”

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I didn’t realize that I was reading a novella until I was done with it. Initially, I was having mixed emotions since I am not a huge fan of instalove. But for a quick read, it was …… okay.

This is a charming short story about Makenna and Caden and one fateful day trapped in the elevator. With only each other and the darkness keeping them company, they started opening up to each other, breaking down barriers bit by bit. This is a very fast, and I emphasize on FAST, strangers to lovers type of story.

Commercial: Am I the only one who thought of The Voice while reading this?

To those of you unfamiliar with The Voice, it is an international reality television singing competition   wherein the blind auditions have the judges/coaches facing away from the artists. With this, they will only be judging them based on their voices alone.

The HID plot is a lot like that. Trapped in a pitch black elevator, without any idea when they will be let out, Makenna and Caden had to lean onto each other for support. It was a sweet survival mode as they traded stories, backgrounds and even food and water. They found companionship and attraction in a very unlikely situation.

Personally, I found the story to be cute and fun but truly unrealistic. I was detached from the main characters from start to finish. I mean, I could understand some of the things that happened in the elevator but the rest that followed felt a bit too much. It’s entertaining at best but the insta-lust meter is just blaring. I felt like majority of the story was more on sexual and less on plot and emotions.

The writing is okay though I was a bit distracted with the sudden shifts in POV. I would suddenly get lost as to whose voice I was already reading but I quickly recovered. If you’re looking to pass time, a bit bored maybe or if you’re looking for a quick steamy fix – then this one might do.

Heads up: I am still curious as to what happens to them and their relationship (seeing as they professed love right away. Um okay.) as they discover more about each other, see each other in the light of day and tackle more day to day dilemmas without the bubble of an elevator. With that said, I am definitely not closing my doors on the next book.

2.5 STARS

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Royally Screwed by Emma Chase

“Infamy is temporary, celebrity is fleeting, but royalty…royalty is forever.”

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Let it be put on record that Drew Evans is and still remains to be my undefeated favorite Emma Chase bae. If you’re asking why, clearly, you haven’t read the Tangled series yet and I am imploring you to do so. Again,let me repeat, Drew Evans remains undefeated!!! UNDEFEATED!!

Prince Nicholas may have failed to steal the top Emma Chase book boyfriend crown from Drew but this book still wins in more ways than one.

Both characters, Nicholas and Olivia are likeable enough. Nicholas’ playful nature totally contradicts his princely demeanor. There’s a balance between seeing him on his boyfriend element and on his role and duty. On the other hand, Olivia is a freaking fighter. She does what she wants, she doesn’t second guess herself and she’s not afraid to risk it. Again, like I said, likeable.

However, Nicholas and Olivia’s characters are not new. Feisty female + Cocky male. Yeah, I’ve read about the likes of these two. But I was still entertained because the plot has very minimal drama. Other books go on and on about repetitive dilemma but what I enjoy about this pair is that they talk. They actually communicate. In a story with steamy sex scenes, I find it refreshing that Nicholas and Olivia also talk and discuss. There’s a connection that’s not just sexual and I like it. I really appreciate it. 

As for the other characters, I just wish I can see more of them in the future books. I know that Royally Matched will be about Prince Henry (so I guess I won’t be missing him too much) but I would also love to see and know more about Franny (yes Ugly Bitch!!), Ellie and even the bodyguards. I mentioned it before but I would also like to point it out here that it’s always good to have main characters who are dynamic and engaging. But it is equally important to build up secondary characters with depth and meaning, not just haphazardly thrown into the story to complete the cast. And Chase nailed just that!

There were parts when I was feeling meh but got easily pulled back in because of the banter and humor. This story is cute and fun. It was a steady read but I think it was in the last few chapters when I started feeling a teeny tiny bit emotional. Though I know it’s fiction, there was something about the resolution that was honest to goodness too good to be true. And also, the main characters have been fretting  about THAT problem since the beginning then here comes a solution – why havent they thought of that before? Alright, I understand that it was a big something that was given up. But still, it was not like his whole life will change. It’s the one big conflict in the story and initially, it was presented like there’s no solution at all except to accept that it was the way it’s supposed to be. Then all of a sudden, bammm, here’s a solution for y’all. Convenient eh?

And also, do I still need to talk about the writing? Ladies and gents, it’s Emma Chase! The writing is flawless and fun and full of snark and wit. She writes with precision and her dual POV is sharp as always. She has once again delivered a fun yet lovable story of a cocky bad boy and a strong heroine.

What kept me glued to the story is the superb Chase writing. I don’t think I could ever get tired of reading her because her writing style just flows. However, the reason I cannot give any more stars is because of the abundance of cheesiness, predictability and lack of wow factor in terms of overall plot. 

It wasn’t actually bad. But it was just okay. If you want something fun and light to read? Prince Nicholas is in the waiting room

Stars - 3

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Maybe Maby by Willow Aster

“Being with you makes me forget who I really am.”

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People tend to use the term OCD lightly. But in truth, there is nothing light about this disorder. Willow Aster once again took me to a whole new adventure, a whole new understanding and this time, it’s by following the story of Maby and her battle against life and OCD.

Confession Time: I was actually saving Maybe Maby as my last unread Willow Aster book for the reason that I just want to still have something from Willow to look forward to. I’ve been saving this for a long time until I just can’t resist anymore.

This is the story of Maby and her fight to literally keep her sanity and life in general. She’s been having a rough time dealing with the death of her mother, breakup with her boyfriend, abandonment of a friend and stress with work. It was becoming too much for her, her walls felt like they were closing in and it was suffocating her. This is a story of coping, of heartbreak, uncertainties and just trying to survive life. I mean, seriously, how much can a girl handle?

I love how this book surprised me, and it was a pleasant surprise. Given, I know it’s going to be good because it’s Willow, but the way I latched on to every word, to every emotion just showed how invested I was in the characters.

Maby is a very likable character albeit frustrating in many different ways, in many different occasions. She has a lot of meltdowns, push and pulls but you have to see things through her mind. She’s unlike other heroines I have read about. She is flawed and quirky and kind and unsure about so many things. Minus the OCD, she’s like every other twenty-something girl, trying to fit into adulthood.  There were times when I got seriously exasperated with her decisions but if you take into consideration all the things she’s been through, you will, in some way, understand her reservations.

Here, we meet three men: Dalton, her ex-boyfriend (who was a real asshole by the way), Saul, her longtime friend and Coen, the barista-slash-I wanna take him home please please please give him to me now!!!

It was painful to read how Maby tried to go through life on her own. She was basically an island with no friends, no social circle and no support system. But as the story progressed, my heart became happy when Maby, slowly but surely, opened up and gained more people in her life. It wasn’t an easy choice, she had reservations and doubts but she braved on. Attagirl!!

This story is endearing and a real eye-opener. Personally, I do not know anyone suffering from OCD and it makes me feel more empathy to their situation in general. Like Willow’s other books, I instantly felt a connection with the characters – gotta love Coen’s family by the way – despite feeling a bit irritated with some of them.

I adore how Willow was able to tackle such subject matter with respect and care. I have always admired how flawless and polished her writing is and this work is no exception.

If you want something that’s realistic, heartfelt, humorous, kinda low on steam but high on love with a bit of an unstable female but a swoon worthy male – then this is the story for you.

Stars - 4

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Sugar Free by Sawyer Bennett

“What you and I have, Sela…no one will ever comprehend it. No one will ever come in between it. But it’s real and it’s ours and I’m never letting it go.”

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I had so much hope and anticipation for this third and final book in the Super Bowl series and I am extremely pleased to say that it exceeded my expectations and I didn’t realize I was holding my breath until that very last page. Damn that ending girllllllllllllllllll.

This series went from a steamy romance with a touch of darkness to a highly suspenseful read. I was amazed that a lot of different elements came into play in this third book, making me fully realize the talent that Sawyer Bennet has.

As always, Beck is just amazing. There’s no other word for him except that. Hell, I could look up all the synonyms in the thesaurus for “amazing” and it would boil down to him being exceptional.  He is anything and everything and I would keep him if I could. I’m also thrilled that this third book showcased Beck in different sides and emotions- we got to taste a more intimate (personal, not sexual as we had loads and loads of that already. LOL) and deeper Beck, and see him for his heart and soul. Every time a layer of a certain character is peeled off, I can’t help but cheer the author on because I know that great effort was exerted in crafting a well-developed lead. Well done SB, I wanna hug you so tight just for Beck alone.  

I wish I could say the same for Sela though. If you have been following my reviews, you know that I had mixed feelings for her in the first book, which was changed in the second book and now in this third book, I could just gouge her eyeballs out. Okay, not all the time. But there were moments when this girl can seriously be annoying and if I could silence some of her book parts out, I totally would.

Not all characters can be awesome to a T but even if I couldn’t care less for Sela, it’s the other way around for the secondary characters. I love and adore how the secondary characters built our main characters up. They were not just random voices in the background. They play pivotal roles to the story too. William (and Maria), Caroline and Ally as well as Dennis are beautifully individualized and showed big personalities throughout the story and even my irritation with Sela could not dampen my love for them. I found that scenes with them are some of my favorite.

This story is best read when your mind is blank and away from interruption because it is highly addicting and truth be told, you just won’t be able to put it down. Every chapter break was just another big tease and the suspense and intense buildup right off the bat was heavy. I can tell exactly which parts prompted me to put the book down for a few minutes because it was already tension filled. Granted, we already know the culprits, we know what happened but what we do not know is how all these things will play out. And in the grand scheme of things, despite Sela being Sela, I really wanted our main characters to be happy and to redeem themselves. I wanted Sela to just go find her closure and peace of mind. I wanted Beck to have the family life that he missed out on. 

I felt a lot in this book. I felt them through our characters and I really applaud Bennett for not leaving any loose ends, for having all questions answered and basically for making me an exceptionally pleased reader right at this moment, despite the stress I endured while reading, because really, trying to wrap my head around what was happening was nerve-wracking but in a delicious way only us readers could understand.  

Plus, that little cameo of the Filipino judge made me do a little happy dance. It is oh so very rare when Filipinos are given much importance in a character assignment. Usually, the Pinoy/Pinay is a maid, an illegal or a social outcast. To have a Pinoy given a character of social importance made me cheering all the more.  

There was a point when I kind of hated Bennett for all the cliffhangers because that is just plain torture. In a reader’s active imagination, so many things can happen and so many theories can build up just as soon as the book ends. Imagine my frustration at the cliffy that is Sugar Rush. However, I have to say that with the Epilogue and how the story ended (I have to admit I was freaking out at 91% because only a few pages were left and I still had like a bucket of questions left unanswered), Sawyer Bennett, you are more than forgiven.

4.75 SUGAR STARS.

(I just have to take .25 off for the number of times Sela drove me nuts)

Stars - 5

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C h e c k  o u t  t h e  f i r s t  t w o  b o o k s  h e r e . 

Check my review for SUGAR DADDY

Check my review for SUGAR RUSH

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The Air He Breathes by Brittainy C. Cherry

“No soulmate leaves the world alone; they always take a piece of their other half along with them.”

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I’m just feeling a bit salty as to why no one has shoved this down my throat before. I keep seeing so many positive reviews for The Silent Waters and it triggered me to look this author up and just get the Elements series. I dove into this blind and wow, this woman can write!

Emotionally, she was able to push all the right buttons. There is so much truth in this story, so much power and realness. I felt a strong pull towards the main characters IMMEDIATELY. As much as I don’t like instalove, that’s exactly how I felt with them.

The two main characters, Tristan and Elizabeth, are two broken souls. Devastated by tragedy, they both chose their own ways to cope. My heart goes out to both of them. This book is a twist after another after another.

The book is mostly in Elizabeth’s voice and I find myself craving to see more of Tristan’s thoughts. I will not rehash the story or the plot but this story is just powerful and addicting to read. You would not want to put it down. I was moved by the changes in Tristan’s persona – how he went from a doting husband and father to a complete antisocial, shutting himself from everyone. Everything he did was with purpose. Some may not understand his actions or how he chose to cope but that is the beauty if this story, it rings true. Each one of us may know a Tristan in real life. This teaches us not to judge prematurely and to have a more accepting heart towards people who choose to be different.

Elizabeth, on the other hand is a beautiful and resilient character. She does not see it often, but she is strong. She’s one of those main characters that you would wish exist in real life just to pick a few life pointers from them.

This book is a quick read but the way it was written is beautiful. It has heart and soul and you will just feel. It’s one of those books that will take you along the story and be one with the characters. If you’re ready to be consumed and to hurt (a bit), go read this story NOW!

Stars - 5

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Sugar Rush by Sawyer Bennett

“He was a new life.
A fresh start.
A possibility I thought I’d never have.
But right now, he’s the man who just broke me.”

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WOW this is just… WOW!!! I have no words because I am drafting this review merely 5 minutes after I finished the book (October 8, 2:26 AM MNL time) and my emotions are still all over the place.

Everything I felt missing on the first book, everything I felt was overly done were all balanced out in this second book. Looking back, perhaps the first book was plotted that way to prepare for this second one. I don’t know, I’m just assuming but it feels like Sugar Daddy was an appetizer to an even bigger and better meal AKA Sugar Rush.

The book picked up where Sugar Daddy left off and given the painful ending of Sugar Daddy, us readers could only hope for a more positive start to Sugar Rush. And we got that. I, for one, felt particularly satisfied by how this second book started.

Sela and Beck are more dynamic than ever. Relationship wise, they are now focused on being entirely honest with each other – no secrets to keep, no holds barred. I love the noticeable growth in their relationship from just being physically attuned to each other to being emotionally attached as well. I loved and enjoyed Sela more in this second book. I felt like she was really becoming better and without the burden of keeping anything from Beck, she became more focused and consistent.

Beck, on the other hand, is amazing as usual. His loyalty and devotion to Sela is just swoon worthy. This time, with everything laid on the table, we’ve seen just how much he appreciated Sela and not just in the bed but as a person, a friend, a partner. Danggg lucky woman!!

The plot became tricky when family ties, friendships and pasts best forgotten played roles in the turn of events. I love how this book, though still contains sex scenes that are beyond steamy, focused more on the plot and big reveals. This has revelations upon revelations and it’s just so addicting to read.

My heart rate started speeding up at roughly 78% and it was intensity filled from there. I was literally holding my breath and I didn’t even realize I was doing it.

I mentioned that I liked Sela better in this book than the first right?? At about 88%, I was willing to take everything back. I wanted to just pull her hair, keep her from doing what I feel was an idiotic move and just lock her up in their room. Seriously, why do main characters tend to do something stupid all the time?

However, this “stupid move” of Sela’s is what brought everything out in the open. It was twisted and shocking and I freaking loved every minute of it!! I was at the height of my emotions when the second book ended at a cliff hanger. Bummer? I know. I felt so cheated. I wanted more!! I feel like I was just getting to the yummiest part of a burger when it was suddenly snatched from me. Yes, the author warned that there will be a cliffhanger but I JUST WASN’T PREPARED FOR THAT.

DAMN, I NEEDED THE THIRD BOOK YESTERDAY.

5 SUGAR STARS!

Stars - 5

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