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12 Days of Christmas: Books Steph Wanted to Read in 2014

December 22nd, 2014 @ 12:06 am
Posted by Steph under 12 Days of Christmas Tags: 12 Days of Christmas

This has been a very busy year for me. I found out I was pregnant on New Years Eve last year. So the first three to four months of this year were spent feeling nauseous and exhausted. Not much time for reading. Then we decided to buy a house and move when I was seven months pregnant. Definitely no time for reading. In September, I had a beautiful baby boy and have spent the last three months adjusting to the role of motherhood. At this point, I’ve forgotten what reading two to three books a week even felt like. So suffice to say, there were a lot of books that I didn’t get read this year. Here are the 10 that I really wish I had had time to read.

1. Alien Research by Gini Koch

Untitled-1

I love this series, but the books are really long. That’s not a bad thing, but I just haven’t had time to read a 400+ page book. Plus I’ve heard this one is an emotional roller coaster, and I’m just not sure I’m ready for that in my go-to lighthearted series.

2. Shield of Winter by Nalini Singh

Shield of Winter

I’ve been looking forward to Vasic’s story ever since he was introduced. Plus the events of Heart of Obsidian leave me very curious as to where the series goes from here. I need to try and read this soon.

3. Chimes at Midnight by Seanan McGuire

Chimes at Midnight

It almost physically pains me to know I’m behind in one of my favorite series. After how the previous book ended, I want to dive right into this one. Hopefully I can get to it soon. I miss my Tybalt!

4. Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews

Magic Breaks

I really need to read this soon. I’m starting to get antsy from not having had my Kate and Curran fix for over a year. I can feel the withdrawal kicking in!

5. A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin

A Clash of Kings

I read A Game of Thrones before I met my husband. That was two years ago. I really need to read this next one. Fingers crossed for 2015!

6. Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Doctor Sleep

I’m so excited there’s a sequel to The Shining, one of my favorite King novels. Now I just need to find the time to read it!

7. Fifth Grave Past the Light by Darynda Jones

Fifth Grave Past the Light

I’m so far behind in this series now it’s not even funny. Here’s hoping I can get caught up soon!

8. Shadowbound by Dianne Sylvan

Shadowbound

Some people abandoned this series after a certain event took place in book two. I continue to love it and hope I can get around to reading this one in the near future.

9. Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Allegiant

The mixed reviews of this one leave me hesitant, which is why I haven’t picked it up even though I’ve had the opportunity to read it. Maybe I’ll get around to it next year.

10. Fury of the Demon by Diana Rowland

Fury of the Demon

After the ending of the last book, I am so eager to read this one. It just hasn’t fit into my reading plans yet, which makes me sad.

Click HERE to enter the 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway!!

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12 Days of Christmas: Books Bridget Wanted to Read in 2014

December 22nd, 2014 @ 12:05 am
Posted by Bridget under 12 Days of Christmas Tags: 12 Days of Christmas

Every year there are books that I have on my TBR pile that I just don’t get to that I wish I could have. Part of the reason why I don’t read as many books from my TBR is because of reviewers guilt.  I feel like I should be reading books that I need to review versus books I just want to read for pleasure.  Also there are books I planned on reading that slip through the cracks or I don’t yet have a copy, but whatever the reason I always have quite a list of books that I wish I could have read each year.

1. Origin/Opposition by Jennifer Armentrout

 OriginOpposition

I have been a huge fan of Jennifer for a long time now and her books are ones that I instantly pre-order, so of course I got Opposition the week it released. But I will admit that I am a little behind on this series as well. I read the first three books in the series but I haven’t yet read Origin which is the fourth book. Having to try to fit two books into my already hectic reading schedule seemed impossible so once again this book ended up getting shelved, but hopefully I will have time to finish this series soon. I would love to see how Daemon and Katy’s story ends.

2. Siege & Storm/Ruin & Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Siege and StormRuin and Rising

I loved Shadow and Bone it was an amazing beginning to what I’m sure is a wonderful series.   I pre-ordered a copy of Siege & Storm and planned on reading it as soon as it came out, but that just didn’t happen. By the time I had room in my reading schedule to fit it in I decided I might as well just wait till the final book released so I could binge read them together. Then Ruin & Rising came out this year and for some reason I just haven’t picked it up yet.  I really hope that this coming year I have time to finish this series because I really need some more Darkling in my life!!!

3. The Spiritglass Charade by Colleen Gleason

The Spiritglass Charade

I loved The Clockwork Scarab it was one of my favorite reads from last year. It was such a fun mystery and I really enjoyed the characters. The reason I haven’t read this one yet is because I kind of forgot about it till after it came out and I saw that the sequel had released.  I still haven’t been able to get a copy so of course I haven’t gotten to read it yet, but I really want to. I am really interested to see where the story picks up from the first book and I really need to get myself a copy soon.

4. Talon by Julie Kagawa

Talon

I have been a big fan of Kagawa’s ever since I read her Iron fey series years ago.  She has amazing writing and really knows how to tell an entertaining story.  When I read the synopsis for Talon I was instantly intrigued to read Kagawa’s take on dragons! I actually did get an ARC of this one but for some reason I just haven’t gotten around to picking it up yet.  Right around the time I got the ARC I found out I was pregnant and wasn’t feeling the best so my reading time went way down until I started feeling better.  But hopefully I will be able to read this one soon.

5. The Perilous Sea by Sherry Thomas

The Perilous Sea

I really enjoyed The Burning Sky it was a beautiful high fantasy story that I loved. Also I have heard that The Perilous Sea is even better so I was very eager to start this one. Once again I did an ARC of this one and I actually tried to start it, but once I honestly couldn’t remember anything that happened in the first book.  The world that Thomas created was amazing, but very complicated and I found that there was no way I was going to be able to read The Perilous Sea without rereading The Burning Sky. At the time I had so many other things on my plate that I knew there was no way I would have time to reread the first book and unfortunately I still  haven’t found the time, but I am really looking forward to reading this.

6. Death Sworn by Leah Cypress

Death Sworn

High fantasy is my favorite genre and I can’t help but want to read every single one I come across. When I saw the cover reveal for Death Sworn and then read the synopsis I knew I had to read this book.  I mean a girl has go into a den of assassins and try to teach them. Then Kaitlin from the blog reviewed this book and she really loved it so that made me want to read it even more.  I was lucky enough to win a signed copy of Death Sworn, but once again because of my crazy schedule I just never got around to reading it. Now I might just wait till the next book comes out so I can binge read them together.

7. Hexed by Michelle Krys

Hexed

This was another book that Kaitlin read and reviewed on the blog. We have really similar tastes and she loved this one so I ended up picking up a copy.  I think that the synopsis sounds good and I like the creepy cover.  The main reason I haven’t read this one is purely because of reviewers guilt like I mentioned in my intro.  I have such a huge pile of books I need to read for review and since this one has already been reviewed on the blog I felt like I should be spending my time reading those books instead. But I still hope that I will get to it sometime in the near future!

8. Something Real by Heather Demetrios

Something Real

I didn’t hear about this one till months after it released and I actually ended up winning it during a Fierce Reads chat on twitter and I thought that it sounded really cute. Then I ended up reading Exquisite Captive which is also written by Heather and I loved it. It was actually one of the best books I have read this year and that instantly made me want to read more books from her, but alas like all the other books on this list I just didn’t ever get a chance to get to it.

9. Stolen by Melissa de la Cruz

Stolen

Frozen was the first and only book I have read written by Melissa but I really enjoyed it.  I thought that it had a very interesting premises and I loved the characters.  I don’t remember the ending being terrible, but I do want to see where the story goes because I feel like there was a ton of potential.  I actually have not gotten a copy of this one yet and that is really the only reason why I haven’t read it yet, because rest assured as soon as I get a copy I will be reading it right away.

10. Don’t Look Back by Jennifer Armentrout

Don't Look Back

This is one of the only books written by Armentrout that I don’t actually own a copy of. I think the main reason I didn’t pre-order this one was because at the time I had spent way to much money on books and I felt like I couldn’t justify buying another one so I still haven’t gotten myself a copy yet.  But like I said I love her as a author and I this is her first mystery she has written so I would love to see what her take on the genre is. So this is a book I need to get ASAP!

Click HERE to enter the 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway!!

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Book Talk: E-book or Print?

December 21st, 2014 @ 4:30 pm
Posted by Kaitlin under Book Talk Tags: E-Books, Print

I’ve seen this topic discussed many times. Certain people like certain ways of reading — specifically, e-books or paper copies. There are arguments for both causes!

E-books

In an age where electronics are so vital, almost everyone has some device they can read on. For me, I have a Kindle. I have had three previous Nook devices, but unfortunately each of them broke — they’d just stop working one day after a few months. When the third was deceased I renounced the Nook and became a proud Kindle owner. Not only does the battery last forever, I’ve dropped mine a couple of times and owned it for over a year without any problems.

E-book lovers enjoy the cheaper prices of novels. You can be sure that at least a few bestsellers are on sale for a couple books at any given time, and that’s better than a hardbound copy for twenty. But really, it boils down to convenience. With a tap of a button you can have a copy of your most anticipated book. Is there something you pre-ordered? At twelve at night, what should appear on your screen but that beloved latest installment in a series! Of course, you can pre-order from Amazon two day shipping, but you can expect that late in the afternoon.

E-books are light. One hardcover book weighs more than an e-book, which carries seventy or so (depending on the amount of books on your device)! It’s like magic the way they pack so many words onto such a sliver. This can be important when you have a long flight and your book is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows with 850 pages.

Finally, let’s not forget that e-books save paper and trees.

Print Copies

Print copies allow nostalgia. At least for me, when I open a book I’ve read, I feel and remember what was happening as I first explored its pages. Sometimes I’ll find a stain in my books from a popsicle I had at the time, and think about that summer when I would always read on the beach. Or, I’ll find a leaf from a tree I used to lean against from reading. Maybe this is only me, maybe I’m crazy. But it’s my opinion that e-books don’t carry memories as well as print copies.

Print copies are prettier. My Kindle doesn’t have color, but even if it did, can it show the shiny beauty of a holographic cover? No. Can it capture the shine of sunlight on a rich green color? No. We have a room at my house entirely for books, bookshelves covering all sides of the room with a comfy chair and table to sit on while you enjoy a novel. We call it the library. I have a certain amount of pleasure each time I set a new book among others. It gives me so much joy to organize and reorganize the shelves. Seeing all those colors and all of my old favorites makes me happy.

Paper books you can share with friends and borrow out. E-books, not so much, unless you want to entrust them with your pricy device and all of the books you have collected on it. If you have a Nook there is a sharing system, but I doubt all of your friends have a Nook to use for that.

Buying print copies supports bookstores. Since e-books it’s been harder and harder to sell print copies and many, including beloved Borders, went out of business. My local Barnes and Noble just got kicked out of the mall- now I have to drive half an hour to parade among the shelves of a bookstore. I hate to think that any more book buisnesses will leave me when I appreciate them so much.

Print copies you can get signed. I love book signings but I can’t ask an author to sign my Kindle, can I? (I could but I don’t want to do that…)

What’s the Verdict?

My favorite way to read is print. Books are books, and I certainly won’t turn down a nice book because it’s an e-book. I enjoy a book no matter how I read it, and e-books do make it more convenient. I get my review books in e-book format and I love them all the same. I am a supporter of e-books as well as printed copies.  I’m a supporter of books in general! However, given the choice, print would be the way to go.

What’s your opinion of how to read? Let me know in the comments!

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Review: Ever After by Kim Harrison

December 21st, 2014 @ 4:00 pm
Posted by Kristie under Review Tags: Ever After, Kim Harrison, Review, The Hollows, Urban Fantasy

Ever After KHever afterTitle: Ever After

Author: Kim Harrison

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: The Hollows (Book #11)

Publication Date: January 22, 2013

Format: Hardcover, 435 Pages

ISBN-10: 0061957917 (Harper Voyager)

ISBN-13: 978-0061957918 (Harper Voyager)

Reviewed by: Kristie

Synopsis:

The ever after, the demonic realm that parallels the human world, is shrinking. If it disappears completely, so does all magic. It’s up to witch-turned-daywalking-demon Rachel Morgan to avert catastrophe and keep life from changing… for the worse.

While saving the world is important, it isn’t Rachel’s only motivation. There’s also the small fact that she caused the ley line to rip in the first place, setting off a chain reaction of unfortunate events. That little mistake has made her life forfeit unless she can fix it. It’s also made her more than a few enemies, including the most powerful demon in the ever after—a terrifying entity who eats souls and now has an insatiable appetite for her. He’s already kidnapped her friend and goddaughter to lure her out, and if Rachel doesn’t give herself up soon, they’ll die.

But Rachel has more than a few impressive and frightening skills of her own, and she isn’t going to hand over her soul and her life without one hell of a fight. She’s also got a surprise: elven tycoon Trent Kalamack. With this unlikely ally beside her—a prospect both thrilling and unnerving—she’s going to return to the ever after, kick some demon butt, rescue her loved ones… and prevent an apocalypse before it’s too late. Or, at least that’s the plan…

Quick & Dirty: A deeply emotional and action packed book that once again finds Rachel fighting for her life.

Opening Sentence: “This is close enough.”

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

I want to start this review by saying that I am a huge fan of this series and I am seriously disappointed that it took me this long to read Ever After. Although I will say this novel didn’t speak to me like some of the past Hollows books did in the past but I still thoroughly enjoyed Ever After. I especially enjoyed the new dynamics of Rachel and Trent’s relationship.

Ever After continues Rachel’s struggles with the terrible demon Ku’Sox. He sabotages a ley line which in effect becomes like a black hole. The line is slowly shrinking the Ever After with the ultimate goal of destroying the Ever After and the demons with it. For the demons the only way to stop their ultimate destruction is by killing Rachel or so they believe. Since demon politics is so weird, Rachel cannot blame Ku’Sox without proof and even that proof would make it look like she was working with Ku’Sox. There are some really powerful demons that believe Rachel but they won’t take her side because Ku’Sox is even more powerful than they are. They won’t risk their lives in case Rachel can’t fix the line.

Meanwhile, Quen wants Rachel to take over is place and become Trent’s protector but Rachel’s conflicting feelings have her turning down the job. She doesn’t believe she can protect like he needs plus she really enjoys being her own boss.

As one of the last remaining elves, Trent is trying to ensure the continued survival of his species. The elves and demons have a nasty shared history and much of that is revealed in Ever After. Rachel has to team up with Trent in order for her to have any kind of hope of saving the Ever After and ultimately her life.

I love Rachel. She cares so much for other people often to the detriment of her life. She does whatever she can to help others. Ultimately it is her life above all others because she does whatever it takes to ensure her survival even if the outcome for someone else is detrimental. Although, I’m not sure that is entirely a bad trait. She is brash but she doesn’t answer to anybody and I enjoy so much how she is strong yet very much vulnerable.

I really found myself anticipating the parts of the book with Trent and Rachel.  Rachel has so many doubts and frustrations, some of which are understandable but it does help amp up the sexual tension. I still have my doubts about Trent’s loyalties but I secretly hope they get together in the end. **As of right now, I have avoided any spoilers to the last book.**

Several years have passed since I read A Perfect Blood so I did have some confusion to events and characters for the beginning of the novel. I definitely wouldn’t recommend this as a standalone or a starting point to a series that is ending in two more books. Too much has gone on in this series.

There was only one thing I really didn’t like about Ever After. There was some tragedy off the “page”. It didn’t really need to be showcased but I had a hard time believing it was true. I was expecting said person to come back at any time, however, a certain characters reaction to the tragedy made me believe that it had to be true.

Overall, I really loved this book! I went through so many emotions. I love the dark atmosphere and setting. I can just feel myself sinking into this world. I can’t wait to finish this series.

Notable Scene:

“Nicely done, Rachel.” Smiling up at Trent, I accepted his hand and stood. Our pinkie rings glinted together in the light, and I didn’t know how to feel about it. My hands were shaking, but I was ready to put another imbalance back if Bis was.

Pulling my hand from Trent’s, I looked for Bis. “Another one?” I asked, my intentions obvious, and he nodded from the retaining wall, his red eyes glowing in the lamplight.

Jenk’s wings clattered as he dropped down, shrilling something so fast I couldn’t understand him.

“You surprise me, Rachel,” came an oily voice from the dark, and I spun, heart pounding as I turned to the river. Ku’Sox? Crap on toast!

“It’s Ku’Sox!” Jenks shouted, dripping an angry, frightened red dust. His sword was out, and his wings by my ear, harsh.

“Not in that you figured it out,” Ku’Sox said, a small sphere of light blossoming in his hand to show his presence beside my screaming, damaged line, “but that you’re stupid enough to be out here alone.”

Bis landed on my other side, puffing up as much he could by sucking in the moisture from the air. The size of a large dog, he crouched beside me with his tail thrashing.

“She’s not alone,” Jenks spat, hovering at head height and brandishing his sword. “Back off, Cute Socks. I cut your nose off before, I’ll do it again.”

The Hollows:

1. Dead Witch Walking

2. The Good, the Bad, and the Undead

3. Every Which Way But Dead

4. A Fistful of Charms

5. For a Few Demons More

6. The Outlaw Demon Wails

7. White Witch, Black Curse

8. Black Magic Sanction

9. Pale Demon

10. A Perfect Blood

11. Ever After

12. The Undead Pool

13. The Witch with No Name

13.1 Sudden Backtrack

skull5

FTC Advisory: Harper Voyager / Harper Collins provided me with a copy of Ever After. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: Into the Woods by Kim Harrison

December 21st, 2014 @ 3:00 pm
Posted by Kristie under Review Tags: Into the Woods: Tales from the Hollows and Beyond, Kim Harrison, Review, The Hollows, Urban Fantasy

Into the Woods Tales from the Hollows and BeyondTitle: Into the Woods: Tales from the Hollows and Beyond

Author: Kim Harrison

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: The Hollows (Book #10.1)

Publication Date: October 12, 2012

Format: Hardcover, 384 Pages

ISBN-10: 0061974323 (Harper Voyager)

ISBN-13: 978-0061974328 (Harper Voyager)

Reviewed by: Kristie

Synopsis:

A true queen of urban fantasy–the New York Times bestselling author of the wildly popular series featuring bounty hunter witch-turned-daywalking demon Rachel Morgan–the phenomenal Kim Harrison explores the Hollows more deeply than ever before in Into the Woods, her first collection of short stories. Rachel is here, as are Jenks the pixie, elven tycoon Trent Kalamack, and an unholy host of vampires, demons, shapeshifters, ghosts, and other assorted supernatural beings, friends and foes. Into the Woods combines original work, including a new Hollows novella, as well as all of Kim Harrison’s previously published short fiction gathered together in one volume for the very first time. No true Hollows aficionado will want to pass this up–and readers of Laurell K. Hamilton, Kelley Armstrong, Patricia Briggs, and Jim Butcher; fans of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight novels and of paranormal romance superstars Christine Feehan and Sherrilyn Kenyon, will be likewise enchanted.

Quick & Dirty: Wonderful collection of short stories, some action-packed adventurous fun to some dark and depressing.

Excerpt: Yes “Million Dollar Baby”

The Review:

Into the Woods is a collection of old and new stories by Kim Harrison. As a huge fan of the Hollows series, I’m surprised it took me this long to read this. Although, I had read most of the Hollows stories already but I was really looking forward to reading “Million Dollar Baby” and “Grace.” I’ve reviewed each story individually, but as a whole I really loved this collection.

“The Bespelled” – 5/5 – Originally appeared in paperback editions of The Outlaw Demon Wails

This short story is an excellent look into the devious demon Al and his thought processes as he trapped Ceri as his familiar, one thousand years before Rachel was born. Al is feverishly trying to figure out how to overcome Ceri as his emotions go from panic to love to ecstatic happiness as he gets what he wants. I really enjoyed being in Al’s head and learning how he justified love and being a demon to himself.

“Two Ghosts for Sister Rachel” – 5/5 – Originally appeared in the anthology Holidays Are Hell

A deep and insightful story about Rachel at eighteen. Rachel is very much a strong willed girl and she knows what she wants to do with her life and is very much on the right path to make it happen. This is the second time reading this story for me so I really enjoyed seeing Pierce again when he was all cute and awkward with his 18th century ways. I definitely recommend reading this novella about Rachel’s early life and learning about her family and the struggles that she has gone through. The Hollows would be an entirely different place if Rachel had chosen the “safe life” that her brother was trying to talk her into.

“Undead in the Garden of Good and Evil” – 4/5 – Originally appeared in the anthology Dates From Hell

This novella focuses on Ivy, a living vampire, before she met Rachel. This Ivy is certainly not the Ivy from the beginning of the Hollows series. She drinks blood and because of that she is much more blood thirsty and temperamental (although that can be argued). My only complaint about Ivy is about how much she complains about having to fight her emotions so much. I really like Ivy but sometimes I have a hard time with her vampiric emotions. I think she comes off quite a bit self-absorbed and bitchy. Overall, I really enjoyed reading about Ivy’s time in the homicide division with the terrible vampire Art as her boss. Also, Kisten appears in this story, which is always a plus.

“Dirty Magic” – 4/5 – Originally appeared in the anthology Hotter Than Hell

Life as a banshee is not easy. After many years of loneliness Mia has finally found love but when you can soak up their life energy that love cannot last long. This is a dark and emotionally rich story fit for a banshee who lives off powerful emotions.

“The Bridges of Eden Park” – 4/5 – Originally appeared in paperback editions of For A Few Demons More

The last short story featuring Kisten before his tragic demise. The Bridges of Eden Park is an exciting but ominous side adventure that sadly foreshadows Kisten’s impending doom. Rachel even gets to learn more about Kisten and his family. This was a wonderful story, but like all things Hollows, I would have loved this to be a little longer.

 “Ley Line Drifter” – 5/5 – Originally appeared in the anthology Unbound

A fun and action packed adventure featuring Jenks, the pixy, and Bis, the gargoyle. Jenks is hired to help a fellow pixy take care of a spirit that has been possessing his children, even burning one child from the inside out. This story was a fun, inquisitive look into Pixy family life and structure while still showing the dark side of the Hollows world.

 “Million Dollar Baby” – 4/5

Exciting adventure with Trent and Jenks. I really loved having an inside look into Trent’s thoughts, although, I would have loved to have more insight into Trent’s thoughts on Rachel. I did think the story dragged a little during the beginning of Trent’s biking scenes, it seems to focus too much on “how he biked” than on the story, but other than that it was a wonderful story. Overall, I really enjoyed reading this story, but after reading the rest of the series, I felt there was a bigger secret hidden in this story (a secret between Trent and Jenks) but I think I missed it.

Non-Hollows Stories:

“Pet Shop Boys” – 3/5

The first of the non-Hollows stories features a boy named, Cooper, who helps run a pet shop. Cooper is very easily distracted by the pretty women around him. Pet Shop Boys is an eerie and slightly confusing story until the very end when everything is brought to light. Both main characters were a little too childish as the story played out. This story offers a strange twist to vampires and fey worlds/dimensions.

“Temson Estates” – 4/5

Kim Harrison certainly likes her dryads. This is the 3rd story in this collection featuring these rare creatures. Will has inherited land from his grandfather. The land contains a huge forest that Will wants to sell for a lot of money. One reason he needs the money, is so he can pay for his expensive schooling. Will’s great aunt tries to talk him out of selling the forest and to prove it she needs him to spend some time in the woods. The dryads in this story are pretty cute and lend to the sweetness of the story.

“Spider Silk” – 4/5

The 4th and final story in this collection that features dryads and unlike the previous story, this one is much more dark and depressing. This novella goes between two points of view between a mother and her daughter. The mother knows some dangerous secrets and the daughter who believes her mother is crazy and should be locked up in an old folk’s home. Trust could go a long way, especially after seeing something that you never thought possible. The ending wasn’t entirely surprising but it definitely kept up the dark feel of the storyline.

“Grace” – 4/5

An action packed story about Grace, a woman with a strong sense of duty and a strange power. Grace was a different and unique story that at first I had a hard time understanding, but by the end of the story I think I had a grasp of what was going on. I really enjoyed this story and how Grace really cared for those around her and she even stood for what was right even in the face of blackmail. Out of all the stories from the second half of this collection of stories, I think this is the world I would like to see expanded upon.

FTC Advisory: Harper Voyager / Harper Collins provided me with a copy of Into the Woods. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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