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I Belong

Review: Behold the Bones by Natalie C. Parker

May 30th, 2016 Kaitlin Posted in Review No Comments »

Behold the BonesTitleBehold the Bones

AuthorNatalie C. Parker

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: Beware the Wild (Book #2)

Publication Date: February 23, 2016

Format: Hardcover, 358 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062241559 (HarperTeen)

ISBN-13: 978-0062241559 (HarperTeen)

Reviewed by: Kaitlin

Synopsis:

Candace “Candy” Pickens has been obsessed with the swamp lore of her tiny Louisiana town for . . . forever. Name any ghostly swamp figure and Candy will recite the entire tale in a way that will curl your toes and send chills up your spine.

That doesn’t mean Candy’s a believer, however. But with swamp haunts appearing in town every day, a suspicious new family in town, and her own mind starting to betray her, Candy must come to terms with the one piece of swamp lore she’s never heard before. It’s a tale that’s more truth than myth, and may hold all the answers . . . and its roots are in Candy’s own family tree.

Quick & Dirty: A decent companion novel set in a small Louisiana town.

Opening Sentence: Grandpa Craven kicked it the day I was born.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Candy Pickens lives in the tiny Louisiana town of Sticks. She’s never believed in the swamp lore that is spoken like religion, but she is about to face a surprise when ghost sightings appear everywhere. Except, she’s the only one who can’t see them, and apparently her touch chases them away, as well as the magical Shine that wreathes through the swamp. When a TV producer moves through town to film their ghost stories, his intentions are anything but innocent, and its up to Candy to figure them out and solve her ghost problem.

This novel was a companion to a previous installment, Beware the Wild. Instead of focusing on Sterling, the story followed Candace, or Candy, as she journeyed a very different adventure. For the most part, I really enjoyed the originality of the story and how the Louisiana swamp factored into the mythology and folklore of the town. Sticks was just your average tiny Southern town – with a nice heaping of ghosts and magic. Again, the rich Southern atmosphere could have been translated a little stronger, but I still really enjoyed how the author played with such eerie swamp elements.

Candy is a very different character than Sterling was. Sterling was more reserved, but Candy is the rebellious one, the one who shakes things up a bit. Her bravado and confidence tended to hide the softer parts of her. I did enjoy how the writing style diversified with a different character, because I hate when one point of view sounds exactly like another character’s (like in Allegiant by Roth). Over the story, Candy grew as a character, and became more selfless and more able to see other’s points of views.

As for the love story, I really don’t know how I feel about that. There wasn’t much focus on the romance, more on the immediate plotline, which I enjoyed. The romance was kind of built in bits and pieces, but wasn’t altogether unexpected. In all honesty, I was entirely uncaring toward the love interest. His character and the romance felt very subpar to me. There was kind of a love triangle, but never a legit one. And then, the ghosts: I liked the idea of Mad Mary. I think the first book carried a more original plotline, and more interesting one, but this second installment managed to take the world from the previous one and expand on it. This helped to explain certain things from the first book so I liked drawing these connections.

Altogether, I enjoyed the characters and development of this story. The plot was interesting and the setting was nicely done, although the tone and atmosphere could have been a bit stronger. It was a decent companion novel, with one of my bigger complaints being the romance, which didn’t interest me at all. I still think the first was better but really liked this one, and I’d recommend fans of the first to go ahead and check out this awesome book!

Notable Scene:

And here I am, the North Star. Brilliant and isolated, orienting everyone but connecting to no one. I am all I’ll ever be and I don’t know what that means anymore.

I’ve never been the girl who imagines her wedding, or anticipates a family like it’s a given I’ll have both, but I’ve never considered that neither were in my future.

But I’ve also never imagined myself alone. And right now, that’s all I see in my future. Me.

And me alone.

Beware the Wild Series:

1. Beware the Wild

2. Behold the Bones

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FTC Advisory: HarperTeen provided me with a copy of Behold the Bones. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: Archangel’s Legion by Nalini Singh

May 29th, 2016 Kristie Posted in Review No Comments »

Archangel's LegionTitle: Archangel’s Legion

Author: Nalini Singh

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Guild Hunter (Book #6)

Publication Date: October 29, 2013

Format: Paperback, 374 Pages

ISBN-10: 0425251241 (Jove/Penguin)

ISBN-13: 978-0425251249 (Jove/Penguin)

Reviewed by: Kristie

Synopsis:

Nalini Singh, the New York Times bestselling “alpha author of paranormal romance” (Booklist) returns to an immortal world of violent passion and lethal power…on the brink of a deadly archangelic war.

Angels are falling from the sky in New York, struck down by a vicious, unknown force.

Vampires are dying impossibly of disease.

Guild hunter Elena Deveraux and the Archangel Raphael must discover the source of the wave of death before it engulfs their city and their people, leaving New York a ruin and Raphael’s Tower under siege by enemy archangels.

Yet even as they fight desperately to save the city, an even darker force is stirring, its chill eyes trained on New York…and on Raphael. Rivers of crimson and nightmares given flesh, the world will never again be the same…

Quick & Dirty: Complex, emotional world that delves deeper into Archangel politics.

Opening Sentence: Elena watched the ducks peck at each other in the pond in Central Park and thought about the last time she’d been here.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Nalini Singh continues to amaze me with her complex and emotional worlds from Psy/Changeling to Guild Hunter with Archangel’s Legion. I’m a little behind in this series so I’m trying to play catch up. The sixth book in the Guild Hunter series brings us back to Elena and Raphael and in case we have forgotten the love that these two characters have for each other, we are quickly reminded of this wonderful and everlasting love.

The world is going crazy. Angels are falling from the sky. Vampires are getting sick and dying. And Archangels’ are gaining some really interesting powers from the Cascade. An inevitable war is coming to Manhattan.

Power is everything when it comes to Archangels. When it appears that vampires are getting sick and dying from a strange unknown disease, Raphael cannot let the news get out. He doesn’t want his own followers to know. If it gets out then war will come sooner to Manhattan. Raphael knows that Lijuan is his number one enemy but he knows that some other angels are working with her to destroy him. He just needs to unravel who all his enemies are.

Archangel/Angel politics is complicated as Elena is continuing to learn as Raphael’s Consort. She can never appear weak and always act as if nothing bad is happening. Elena is a bit weak as an angel but she’s growing stronger every day. Elena is a bit unconventional but that is one reason why Raphael loves her. Another thing that Elena is learning is how to act as a Consort at parties and secret meetings.

Archangel’s Legion had a lot of stuff going on. I will say as much as I loved this book there were a couple times when I wasn’t quite sure where the story was going. From the synopsis I thought it was just about the vampires dying of a strange disease. Every time it felt like this was over it came back even worse than before. Then there was the strange Ball that was held by Raphael’s mother that just supported how some angels don’t like Elena and her meeting one of Raphael’s past lovers which did give her a bit of an unwarranted complex that she isn’t good enough for him. In the end, I was not expecting the all-out war that the novel ended with.

Unlike the previous novel in this series, Archangel’s Legion only stayed with Elena and Raphael’s third person point of view. There were glimpses into each of Raphael’s Seven. I cannot wait to read more about Illium and Aodhan. Their story left me really wanting to know more. I highly recommend this series for readers who like the darker edge to their stories. The love scenes are intensely erotic.

Overall, this is one series that continues to go strong. I’m so excited that I can pick up more in this series without having to wait too long. I strongly urge anyone to check out this series or this author if they haven’t already.

Notable Scene:

Walking to the edge of the pond, she fought her habit of pretending things didn’t matter when they did, and admitted the truth. “I knew I’d run into one of your lovers sooner or later. I just never expected the first one to be so impressive.”

Raphael thought of the centuries he’d lived growing increasingly remote from the world, the power at his command eating away at the boy he’d once been, and knew Elena didn’t understand the piercing depths of who and what she was to him. Tasha, scholar and warrior, was a friend, but she’d seen the surface of him and been content with that.

In all his existence, Elena alone had torn at that surface, heedless of the risk, until she revealed the man beneath the archangel. And Elena alone had challenged his decisions and his views, forcing him to look at the world in a way he’d never before considered. “There is no comparison,” he said to the only woman he’d ever claimed for his own. “You know me in ways no one else ever has or ever will again.”

Guild Hunter Series:

1. Angel’s Blood

2. Archangel’s Kiss

3. Archangel’s Consort

4. Archangel’s Blade

5. Archangel’s Storm

6. Archangel’s Legion

7. Archangel’s Shadows

8. Archangel’s Enigma

9. Archangel’s Heart (November 1, 2016)

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FTC Advisory: Jove/Penguin provided me with a copy of Archangel’s Legion. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: Otherworld Nights by Kelley Armstrong

May 28th, 2016 Steph Posted in Review No Comments »

Otherworld NightsTitle: Otherworld Nights

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Otherworld Stories (Book #3)

Publication Date: October 28, 2014

Format: Paperback, 368 Pages

ISBN-10: 0452298342 (Penguin/Plume)

ISBN-13: 978-0452298347 (Penguin/Plume)

Reviewed by: Steph

Synopsis:

Rare and never-before published short stories featuring fan favorites from the New York Times bestselling series

It’s been more than ten years since Kelley Armstrong began the Otherworld series and drew legions of fans to a realm roamed by witches, werewolves, necromancers, vampires, and half-demons. Many of the novels have become bestselling favorites, but not all of the Otherworld adventures have been easy to find. At last, Otherworld Nights shares short stories that have previously been available only online or in obscure collections. Fans have long been clamoring for this anthology and they won’t be disappointed—they’ll find plenty of surprises are in store.

Quick & Dirty: A very entertaining and solid collection of stories from the Otherworld. Fans of the series won’t want to miss it!

Opening Sentence: Talia stared at the painting.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

If you’ve read any of my other reviews of anthologies before, you know I’m not always the biggest fan of short stories, mainly because it often feels like the story is too rushed and isn’t meaty enough. To this point, the only author whose short stories I regularly enjoy was Stephen King. Now, I can add Kelley Armstrong to the list as well. While some stories did fall a little flat, none of them failed to be entertaining or felt too rushed. I think the stories really benefited from existing in a world that’s already been explained by Armstrong elsewhere, thus no world-building needed to be done in the stories. All in all, this was a highly satisfying collection, and I’ll certainly be checking out more of Armstrong’s short stories.

Demonology – 3.5 stars

I can’t remember if we ever got to meet Adam’s mom in the Otherworld series, but it was very interesting to get a story from her point of view as she struggles to figure out what’s wrong with an eight-year-old Adam. Talia felt like a very fleshed out character even though the story is very short. In the same vein, the story was well-paced and included a flashback to Talia meeting Adam’s father. My one complaint would be that I wish the story had lasted a little longer rather than ending in the way it did. Still, I really liked it.

Twilight – 5 stars

Cassandra has never been my favorite Otherworld character, so I wasn’t thrilled to have a story from her point of view. However, it hooked me from the very beginning, and I just could not put the book down until I had finished this particular story. The strongest part of this story lies in the imagery that Armstrong uses towards the end of the story, as Cassandra realizes why it is that old vampires end up dying. The reader is placed firmly in Cassandra’s shoes and can’t help but feel what she feels. This is tied for my favorite story in the collection.

Stalked – 3 stars

Elena and Clay have never been my favorite characters in the series, and this story really didn’t change my opinion. I wasn’t fond of Clay as a narrator, and I felt very frustrated with his determination to keep Elena in the dark about the mutt stalking her. She has proven time and again that she can protect herself, so there’s really no need for him to feel that she can’t handle herself. Now, I know that part of his reasoning is that he doesn’t want to ruin their honeymoon, but it still frustrated me. This one was probably my least favorite entry.

Chivalrous – 5 stars

This would be the other story that’s tied for my favorite entry. Wow. That’s really all I can say. Since I read this series over such a spread out period of time, I can’t remember if we ever got Reese’s back story or not. I have a feeling we did, and I just forgot. Either way, seeing it play out for myself was heartbreaking. I can’t really think of anything else to say. It’s just an awesome story.

Lucifer’s Daughter – 3 stars

This one follows Hope and Karl as they attend an event that Hope’s grandmother has put together. Chaos ensues of course, and Hope and Karl find themselves at the center of it, trying to stop a demon from wreaking havoc. Despite the seriousness of what’s going on, I never truly felt like matters were urgent. I knew Hope would be able to take care of things, so that took a little enjoyment out of the story for me. Still, it was entertaining.

Hidden – 4 stars

This one is a full novella rather than just a short story. Elena and Clay have taken their kids away for their first Christmas alone. While trying to enjoy their family time, evidence begins to pile up that there could be a maneater in the area, so Elena and Clay have to investigate while trying to keep their kids from being exposed to the dangers of the werewolf world. This one was very well written and kept me guessing as to what was going on. I also really enjoyed the side story involving Elena trying to figure out when to tell her children about werewolves. Despite the subject matter, it felt really true to life. When do you sit your kids down and talk to them about serious matters? Watching Elena struggle with this made me feel more connected to her than I ever have before. Very solid story.

From Russia with Love – 4 stars

This one was really short, but good. I don’t want to say much about it to avoid giving away spoilers. It’s another Elena story and takes place after the events of Thirteen.

Vanishing Act – 4 stars

How Savannah ended up being my favorite narrator, I have no idea, but I really do love it when she takes the lead. This is another story that takes place after Thirteen and follows Savannah and Adam as they try to protect a boy who’s being chased by one of the cabals. It’s nice to see how Savannah has grown up and matured throughout the series, and we get to see the culmination of that here. This was a solid story and left me feeling fully satisfied.

Notable Scene:

“I’ve always said I like a woman who can take care of herself. You could before, too, but you were a little wobbly on the self-confidence when I met you in Winslow’s playroom. You remember that? When we were prisoners together, watching each other’s back?”

“I was his prisoner. You were his employee.”

“But I still helped you, didn’t I?”

“For a chit, which I repaid. Do you remember that? You made me steal the From Hell letter while I was six months pregnant.”

“But it all worked out. You have two beautiful, smiling . . .” He looked at the twins. Both were staring at him stone-faced, Logan coldly appraising the situation, Kate tensed to pounce.

“It all worked out,” he insisted, his voice a little less certain.

“Did it? Have you forgotten that letter released zombies? One of them gave Clay a really nasty scratch.”

“But he’s fine now, right?”

“After a very long, very grueling rehabilitation. You should ask him about it sometime.”

Xavier looked like he’d rather swallow thumbtacks.

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FTC Advisory: Penguin/Plume provided me with a copy of Otherworld Nights. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Early Review: Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill

May 27th, 2016 Bridget Posted in Review No Comments »

Ever the HuntedTitle: Ever the Hunted

Author: Erin Summerill

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: Clash of the Kingdoms (Book #1)

Publication Date: December 27, 2016

Format: Hardcover, 400 Pages

ISBN-10: 0544664450 (HMH Books)

ISBN-13: 978-0544664456 (HMH Books)

Reviewed by: Bridget

Synopsis:

Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.

However, it’s not so simple.

The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.

Quick & DirtyEnthralling fantasy that you won’t soon forget! This is quite possibly my favorite book this year and I would highly recommend it to everyone!!!

Opening Sentence: To survive these woods, a man has to be strong as the trees, Papa had said.

Excerpt: No

The Review:

Britta has spent her entire life tagging along with her father who was a talented bounty hunter for the King! He taught her how to hunt, track and fight. It was just the two of them so when her father was murdered she was left with nothing and no one to turn to. If she wants to avoid dying of starvation she will have to poach on the kings land, an offense punishable by death! When she is caught by the kings guards she fears her demise is inevitable, but she is offered a deal. If she will agree to hunt down her fathers killer she will be forgiven for all her crimes and given the ownership of her father’s property! The only problem is the alleged killer is her one and only friend.

Cohen was her father’ s apprentice and Britta fancied herself in love with him. But when she told him how she felt he left and never came back! How could he have killed her father? They were like a family to each other. As she journeys to find the real killer she learns much about herself, and about the special abilities she has locked inside of herself!

Britta was such a beautifully crafted character and I instantly connected with her. She is smart, resourceful, witty, sweet, and very stubborn! For her entire life she had been shunned because of her heritage and that has forced her to become a very untrusting person. Once her father died she had no one to turn to but she refused to give up even though her situation seemed impossible! She has so much determination and it was a very admirable trait. In so many aspects of her life she has felt unworthy, but I loved watching her slowly gain a sense of confidence! She was always strong but as the story progresses she really grows into her own. I loved her character and I am so excited to see where her story leads next!

Cohen is such a dreamy guy, just thinking about him puts a smile on my face (I am literally smiling right now)! He is sweet, charming, intelligent, and loyal! I love how dedicated he was to his family. He worked so hard to better his situation and I really admire that. He also has a very stubborn streak but I loved that he had flaws. It made him more realistic! His relationship with Britta is very hot and cold, which generally I’m not a fan of, but it worked for them. The tension between them is great and the way their relationship develops is perfection! I have always been a huge sucker for best friend romances and their relationship is an ideal example of it!! Cohen pretty much had me at hello and I just fell more and more in love with him as the story progresses!

Ever the Hunted is an epic high fantasy that immediately captured my heart. From the first page I was hooked and I literally didn’t want the story to end because I was enjoying it so much! The pacing was spot on and there was never a dull moment. The romance was adorable and written so well! The plot was intense and full of great twists. The characters were so well rounded and I loved all of them. The writing was gorgeous and the ending left me satisfied but still dying for more! If you can’t tell by all my flailing, I LOVED this book and would highly recommend it! If you are a high fantasy fan this is a must read!!!!

Notable Scene:

I hear him whisper my name once more for his mouth is on mine. Oh stars. My lips are frozen beneath his as shock and logic wage war–this is everything I shouldn’t want. Still, I don’t care. He kisses me gently at first, and then not so much when my lips respond. His hands clutch me to him, the firm spread of his body presses against mine. I can taste the mint leaf on his lips. His tongue. Flames shoot through my limbs and bring my heart, erasing everything of thought in my head except for the sweet awareness of Cohen. Of her needy kiss.

My fingers are process, tracing up his neck to twist in his hair. I’m on escapes his throat. Oh my. It’s the most alert and sound I’ve ever heard.

Clash of the Kingdoms Series:

1. Ever the Hunted (December 27, 2016)

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FTC Advisory: HMH Books for Young Readers provided me with a copy of Ever the Hunted.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry

May 26th, 2016 Bridget Posted in Review No Comments »

The Passion of DolssaTitle: The Passion of Dolssa

Author: Julie Berry

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

Series: N/A

Publication Date: April 12, 2016

Format: Hardcover, 496 Pages

ISBN-100451469925 (Penguin Teen)

ISBN-13: 978-0451469922 (Penguin Teen)

Reviewed by: Bridget

Synopsis:

I must write this account, and when I have finished, I will burn it. 

Buried deep within the archives of a convent in medieval France is an untold story of love, loss, and wonder and the two girls at the heart of it all.

Dolssa is an upper-crust city girl with a secret lover and an uncanny gift. Branded a heretic, she’s on the run from the friar who condemned her mother to death by fire, and wants Dolssa executed, too.

Botille is a matchmaker and a tavern-keeper, struggling to keep herself and her sisters on the right side of the law in their seaside town of Bajas.

When their lives collide by a dark riverside, Botille rescues a dying Dolssa and conceals her in the tavern, where an unlikely friendship blooms. Aided by her sisters and Symo, her surly but loyal neighbor, Botille nurses Dolssa back to health and hides her from her pursuers. But all of Botille’s tricks, tales, and cleverness can’t protect them forever, and when the full wrath of the Church bears down upon Bajas, Dolssa’s passion and Botille’s good intentions could destroy the entire village.

From the author of the award-winning All the Truth That’s in Mecomes a spellbinding thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the final page and make you wonder if miracles really are possible.

Quick & DirtyInteresting historical fiction that I feel very torn about. It read really slow, but I still found the way it was written quite fascinating!

Opening Sentence: I must write this account, and when I have finished, I will burn it.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

This is a tale set during medieval France and it’s about two young girls and how their  friendship could change the world!

Dolssa grew up as part of the privileged people. She had good parents who were well off and she had good prospects of making either an esteemed marriage or becoming a nun! But Dolssa has a special ability and she wasn’t afraid to speak out about it. She claimed to have the power to speak with God! The church deemed her a heretic and she was sentenced to burn along with her mother. By some miracle she escapes and while fleeing she becomes unlikely friends with Botille!

Botille is a witty young women who enjoys being a matchmaker in her small village! She grew up poor and for years her and her sisters used to steal to provide for them sleeves. Luckily they have changed their circumstances and now they try to stay on the right side of the law! When Botille runs into an injured and dying girl near a riverbank she doesn’t hesitate to help.

Dolssa and Botille form a strong friendship while Dolssa is nursed back to health. But the church is still looking for Dolssa, and if they find her it could mean the destruction of not only them but the whole village!

Dolssa was a hard character to connect with at times. Honestly, she was just hard to understand. She grew up in a wealthy family but she claimed to be visited by God and it just seemed a little weird. Dolssa was a smart girl but at times she didn’t seem to have much common sense. She was very ignorant to what the world was truly like and it got frustrating at times. I did like how resourceful and determined she was. Dolssa never gave up fighting for what she believed in and that was very admirable! She also shows a great amount of growth throughout the story and ultimately I did like her character! But like I already said, her story was hard to understand and sadly it made it really hard to connect with her for much of the story!

Botille was probably my favorite character in the book. She was so witty and being inside her head was very entertaining. I loved watching her make matches and she was just an all around good person. Sure she has some bad habits but that just added to her charm. I really enjoyed her parts of the story and thought she was a very fun character.

The Passion of Dolssa was a very interesting read and I honestly can’t decide what to think of it. This is one of those books you have to take the time to savor it so you can fully appreciate the message the author is trying to convey! To be perfectly honest, I think that is one of the reasons I struggled with it. I have a hectic life with four kids, a part time job, and a review schedule I have to follow. I don’t have a ton of time to focus on one book. I did find the story intriguing, but I also found it a little difficult to read. The format and the language were hard to follow at times and like I said, it is a book you really need to focus on to understand it. I do think the author did an amazing job capturing the brutality of the time period. The setting and the characters felt very realistic. The pacing was slow but it fit the story perfectly. As you can tell, I am rather torn over what I thought of the book. If you are a history fan I think you will really enjoy this story, but if you are looking for a quick easy read this is not the book for you!

Notable Scene:

Something struck my ankles, then my wrists, bound behind me.

“Run.”

So soft was the word in my ear that I didn’t believe it.

“Run.”

Hands plucked the cords from my wrists and ankles and steadied me.

“Run,” said the voice again. I saw no one. Hands seized, my arms and steered my body away from the flames. From the friars and the bayle’s constables. Hands pushed me on my way, so to keep from falling, I ran.

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FTC Advisory: Penguin provided me with a copy of The Passion of Dolssa.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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