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I Belong


Review: Bound by Lorelei James

April 22nd, 2016 @ 12:01 am
Posted by Roxanne under Review Tags: , , , ,

BoundTitle: Bound

Author: Lorelei James

Genre: Erotic Romance

Series: The Mastered (Book #1)

Publication Date: February 14, 2014

Format: Paperback, 400 Pages

ISBN-10: 0451467302 (NAL/Penguin)

ISBN-13: 978-0451467300 (NAL/Penguin)

Reviewed by: Roxanne

Synopsis:

Former small-town girl Amery Hardwick is living her dream as a graphic designer in Denver, Colorado. She’s focused on building her business, which leaves little time for dating—not that she needs a romantic entanglement to fulfill her. When her friend signs up for a self-defense class as part of her recovery after an attack, Amery joins her for support. That’s where she meets him.

Ronin Black, owner of the dojo, is so drawn to Amery that he takes over her training—in public and in private. The enigmatic Ronin pushes Amery’s boundaries from the start, and with each new tryst, Amery becomes addicted to the pleasure and to him. But when Amery senses Ronin is hiding something, she questions her total trust in him, despite the undeniable thrill of his possession…

Quick & Dirty: Steamy martial arts with a serious Fifty Shades feel…..

Opening Sentence: “So this is where you’re learning to kick some ass.”

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Amery attends a self defense class with her friend Molly, as support. Molly wants to come out of her shell after being attacked. Amery is immediately noticed by Ronin, aka Master Black, the Sensei of Black Arts! Okay total side note, when I saw the name of the dojo I really did wonder if this was a paranormal romance! Master Black begins to teach Amery and soon after starts showing up in her life! The attraction is immediate and fierce. Ahh, I feel like I am already doing this book an injustice.

Amery and Ronin are downright hot and steamy, I enjoyed getting to know Amery and Ronin is a bit of a hot mystery, which does cause problems later, but for now he is a hot bad ass! Amery and Ronin are navigating business, their relationship, his bondage fascination, and her friends. As they get deeper and deeper, some of his habits send Amery running, but will it be the bondage that ends their relationship or his unwillingness to let down his guard?

Oh my word, what can I say about this book? It was so unexpected, although I guess the name should have been a hint, right? But honestly, I really didn’t know anything about this book, or the author. So from the moment I opened this I was all in… Amery is a total gem, she breaking out of her shell and finding herself, she is snarky, smart, and talented! I love her flaws and her honest struggle to take in information and process it. And the ending…. I was almost in tears and the other half of me was like, hell yeah, get it girl! Major cliffhanger, the moment I am done with this review I am heading over to buy book 2, and maybe 3 and 4 because I loved this book!

I knew I was enjoying it, but when it ended I knew it kicked me in the gut, this book was so much better than Fifty Shades. I don’t even know why I put that in the quick and dirty other than to let you know this is erotica with a similar feel. The mix of martial arts and Japanese culture and the bondage was just amazing. I was enthralled and loved every single minute of it. Ronin was a bit of the ugh/and I love him mix for me. I really did like them as a couple and I am totally invested in seeing how this all plays out.  You know how some romance novels remind you why you don’t just read that genre too much anymore? Then you pick up another romance novel and it just blows you away and reminds you why this was once your favorite genre….yes Bound is in this category! What are you are waiting for? Go forth and get it now!!!

Notable Scenes:

“The blast of the heat from these liquids gold eyes reminded her that her boldness was only an act.”

“Butterflies danced in her stomach as she waited for him to answer his own question.”

“She trembled with heart-pounding, body-tingling anticipation.”

“The man had all the right words.”

“The man had ninja sex skills too.”

“But she could admit part of her reluctance had been fear.”

“On the outside he might look like a sophisticated gentleman, but on the inside Ronin Black was a pure sexual beast.”

“When his words for you to understand who I am echoed back to her, she realized this secret would’ve come out eventually.”

Mastered Series:

1. Bound

2. Unwound

2.5 Schooled

3. Unraveled

4. Caged

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

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Review: Seven Black Diamonds by Melissa Marr

April 21st, 2016 @ 12:01 am
Posted by Zed under Review Tags: , , , ,

Seven Black DiamondsTitle: Seven Black Diamonds

Author: Melissa Marr

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: Untitled (Book #1)

Publication Date: March 1, 2016

Format: Hardcover, 400 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062011170 (HarperCollins)

ISBN-13: 978-0062011176 (HarperCollins)

Reviewed by: Zed

Synopsis:

Melissa Marr returns to faery in a dramatic story of the precarious space between two worlds—and the people who must thrive there. The combination of ethereal fae powers, tumultuous romance, and a bloodthirsty faery queen will have longtime fans and new readers alike at the edge of their seats.

Lilywhite Abernathy is a criminal—she’s half human, half fae, and since the time before she was born her very blood has been illegal. A war has been raging between humans and faeries, and the Queen of Blood and Rage, ruler of the fae courts, wants to avenge the tragic death of her heir due to the actions of reckless humans.

Lily’s father has always shielded her from the truth, but when she’s sent to the prestigious St. Columba’s school, she’s delivered straight into the arms of a fae Sleeper cell—the Black Diamonds. The Diamonds are planted in the human world as the sons and daughters of the most influential families, and tasked with destroying it from within. Against her will, Lilywhite’s been chosen to join them . . . and even the romantic attention of the fae rock singer Creed Morrison isn’t enough to keep Lily from wanting to run back to the familiar world she knows.

Quick & Dirty: An addictive start to what I can predict will be a fantastic series.

Opening Sentence: “You were created to serve.”

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Seven Black Diamonds had me hooked from the first chapter. The storyline was fast paced, the characters were energizing and well developed and it all just ‘clicked’, if you get what I mean.

Lily is a brilliant female protagonist. Raised by The Crime Lord, she’s more than capable of looking after herself in sticky situations. Lily knows that she isn’t quite human but until she meets the other sleepers, she has no idea how much fae blood resides in her. I loved how fiercely protective she is of her friends and her loyalty to her human father and his upbringing.

Lily couldn’t say that she was surprised by Zephyr’s choices. She suspected he wasn’t truly surprised by hers. They’d both been raised to believe certain truths. For him, that meant unerring loyalty to the faery queen; for her, it meant that she would fight for her own beliefs and choices.

It would take forever to describe each of the other sleepers but my favourites were Creed and Violet. Creed, because he had the whole moody, singer thing going for him and the romantic plot between him and Lily was super cute. Violet, because of her incredibly short but fiery temper. Even her insults were hilarious!

“Easy choices, as far as I’m concerned.” Creed looked at her. “I pledged myself to you once, Lily. I can say it again if you need, but the reality is that if you need me to buy you time to escape, I’ll gladly do so.” He gestured to Torquil. “I won’t have him or Vi doing it.”
“Back up, boy.” Violet’s temper finally sparked, setting off a mini light show in the dark cavern. “One of us can set fires to idiots, and one of us sings pretty songs. Guess which is more useful?”

My least favourite was probably Zephyr. I sympathised with his situation, always knowing that he must marry Lily but falling in love with Alkamy regardless. However, it was so funny when Lily found out about the arranged marriage but didn’t even give him a second thought! Zephyr acts like he’s the martyr, protecting his friends from the queen, giving up his life to serve her and so on. But, personally, I thought he was trying too hard to prove himself as the group’s leader and show off to the queen, irrespective of how his actions affected his friends. If he loved Alkamy so much, why doesn’t he ever fight for her? He was too rule-orientated for my liking.

“I’d never let anything happen to you,” he promised her yet again. No one else understood him the way she did. Alkamy felt like his other half. He met her eyes. “Ever. I’d die before I’d let you get hurt.”
Alkamy sighed. “You’ll die for the queen’s cause; you’ll die for me…Maybe you should try finding something or someone to live for instead.”
“Is it so wrong to have a purpose?”

There’s also an excellent villain in this story, the Queen of Blood and Rage. She was scary enough for everyone to be terrified of disobeying her but I could see elements of humanity showing through at the end, so I wonder if all is not lost for the sleepers and their dreams.

The story itself is fascinating because it’s not just about the war between human and fae, but also about the unspoken rivalries and power struggles between the Seelie and Unseelie courts. What I enjoyed most was that there was so much taking place. Despite this, the events flowed smoothly and there were a lot more secrets unveiled than I would expect from the first in a series.

The world building was pretty good too but I would have liked to know a little more about the school they attend and some more detail on the hidden fae world, especially the two courts, but I imagine this will be covered in the next book.

I should probably stop gushing about this book now but my gut intuition is that this series will be huge!

Notable Scene:

Alkamy nodded, but she didn’t speak again until Lily was at the door to her room. “None of us want this, Lily. Not even Zephyr. He thinks we don’t know how he feels, but I see his doubts. We’re trapped. None of us want the queen’s guards to kill us in our sleep, either. They tell us we were born to do this, that we’re special, and there is no choice.”

Lily turned back. “There are always choices, Kamy. I don’t know if they’re good choices, but there are some. We can find them.”

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FTC Advisory: HarperCollins provided me with a copy of Seven Black Diamonds. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan

April 20th, 2016 @ 12:01 am
Posted by Zed under Review Tags: , , , , ,

Sword and Verse CoverTitle: Sword and Verse

Author: Kathy MacMillan

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: Sword and Verse (Book #1)

Publication Date: January 19, 2016

Format: Hardcover, 384 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062324616 (HarperTeen)

ISBN-13: 978-0062324610 (HarperTeen)

Reviewed by: Zed

Synopsis:

In a sweeping fantasy that award-winning author Franny Billingsley calls “fascinating and unique,”debut author Kathy MacMillan weaves palace intrigue and epic world-building to craft a tale for fans of Rae Carson and Megan Whalen Turner.

Raisa was just a child when she was sold into slavery in the kingdom of Qilara. Before she was taken away, her father had been adamant that she learn to read and write. But where she now lives, literacy is a capital offense for all but the nobility. The written language is closely protected, and only the King, Prince, Tutor, and Tutor-in-training are allowed to learn its very highest form. So when she is plucked from her menial labor and selected to replace the last Tutor-in-training who was executed, Raisa knows that betraying any hint of her past could mean death.

Keeping her secret guarded is hard enough, but the romance that’s been blossoming between her and Prince Mati isn’t helping matters. Then Raisa is approached by the Resistance–an underground rebel army–to help liberate the city’s slaves. She wants to free her people, but that would mean aiding a war against Mati. As Raisa struggles with what to do, she discovers a secret that the Qilarites have been hiding for centuries–one that, if uncovered, could bring the kingdom to its knees.

Quick & Dirty: A fight for knowledge.

Opening Sentence: First came Gyotia, many-limbed and all-seeing, born from mountains of hidden fire into the darkness.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

The concept behind this book is very interesting. The book world is divided between slaves called Arnath and the nobles/wealthy called Qilarites. Learning how to write is forbidden to anyone but a Qilarite. The only exception to this rule is the Prince’s Tutor, and an orphan slave (Arnath) is always selected for this role. This tradition has continued for years but the slaves are becoming restless, resistance is growing and the war for knowledge has begun.

“You think the knowledge you have is a gift,” he said. “But you wear shackles too, even if they’re silk instead of iron.”

At first, Raisa, the new tutor, struck me as a silly slave who had her head in the clouds. She’s selected as tutor and falls in love with the Prince immediately, which I thought was bizarre. But the more I learned about Prince Mati, the more I realised that he was unlike any normal Prince so it was little wonder that she fell for him. He in turn falls for her but Raisa’s uncertainties and secrets almost destroy their relationship.

She pointed at me. “At least one of you has sense. He told me that you broke it off. You’d have been wiser to do so long ago.”
Broke it off. The phrase was apt. I felt as if a piece of my body, of my heart, had been broken off.

I found it odd how many secrets she kept from Mati and stranger still was how easily he forgave Raisa. It took a while, but as the story progressed I began to like Raisa more although her inability to take a stand for her people was frustrating. Raisa isn’t a typical heroine, she preferred to sit in the background pretending to be oblivious to the injustice her people faced, which annoyed me since she was in such a crucial position to make some changes. Eventually, she sucks it up and helps bring peace to both sides.

“If you betray us, I’ll kill you myself.”
I had no doubt he meant it. I should have been terrified, but his words only angered me. Who was he, to demand my help and threaten me when I gave it?

As a Prince, I didn’t expect to like Mati as much as I did. In fact, when his betrothal to Soraya was announced yet he continues to pursue Raisa, I thought he was just using her and felt disgusted by him. However, Mati was the compassionate and open minded Prince his father never was. The innumerable times he protected Raisa and saved her life might not be realistic but were certainly romantic!

Between the chapters of Sword and Verse, there are snippets of history relating to the old gods but I didn’t quite understand the relevance of these until a lot later in the story. Yes, there was always some sort of link between the events of history to the scenes in Raisa’s life, but I only appreciated the importance of history and the author’s creativity until I reached the final chapters of this book.

I shoved the stopper into the bottle and stood abruptly. “I’ll do this, but only for those children. Not for you. Be perfectly clear: I wouldn’t help you if you were on fire and I were the ocean.” I whirled and ripped back the curtain, startling Kiti.

Finally, I would like to add that there were times when this story dragged on and occasionally I wondered why it was taking so long to wrap up but the surprising ending made it worth the wait. Despite this, Sword and Verse is unlikely to be on my list of book recommendations!

Notable Scene:

I couldn’t let anyone see how much I wanted to learn to write. I’d long ago learned that wanting things too much was a sure way to have them taken from you.

Sword and Verse Series:

1. Sword and Verse

skull2

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

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Review: Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima

April 19th, 2016 @ 12:01 am
Posted by Zed under Review Tags: , , , , ,

FlamecasterTitle: Flamecaster

Author: Cinda Williams Chima

Genre: YA High Fantasy

Series: Shattered Realms (Book #1)

Publication Date: April 5, 2016

Format: Hardcover, 544 Pages

ISBN-10: 006238094X (HarperTeen)

ISBN-13: 978- 0062380944 (HarperTeen)

Reviewed by: Zed

Synopsis:

Set in the world of the New York Times bestselling Seven Realms series, a generation later, this is a breathtaking story of dark magic, chilling threats, and two unforgettable characters walking a knife-sharp line between life and death. This dazzling beginning to a new series is indispensable for fans of Cinda Williams Chima and a perfect starting point for readers who are new to her work.

Adrian sul’Han, known as Ash, is a trained healer with a powerful gift of magic—and a thirst for revenge. Ash is forced into hiding after a series of murders throws the queendom into chaos. Now he’s closer than ever to killing the man responsible, the cruel king of Arden. With time running out, Ash faces an excruciating choice: Can he use his powers not to save a life but to take it?

Abandoned at birth, Jenna Bandelow was told that the magemark on the back of her neck would make her a target. But when the King’s Guard launches a relentless search for a girl with a mark like hers, Jenna assumes that it has more to do with her role as a saboteur than any birth-based curse. Though Jenna doesn’t know why she’s being hunted, she knows that she can’t get caught.

Eventually, Ash’s and Jenna’s paths will collide in Arden. Thrown together by chance and joined by their hatred of the ruthless king, they will come to rescue each other in ways they cannot yet imagine.

Quick & Dirty: Unlikely allies with a shared goal: to kill the King of Arden.

Opening Sentence: Compare to the freezing weather outside, the stable was warm and steamy and alive with the sleepy murmurings of horses.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

A most anticipated April release, I had high hopes for Flamecaster but sadly, I was rather disappointed. A few of my friends have recommended books by Cinda Williams Chima but this is the first book I read from this author and I expected an excellent read. Don’t misunderstand me, it was good, but it took me many attempts to actually get into the story and flow of things. Some stories are captivating from the first chapter but Flamecaster wasn’t one of them.

If wishes were horses even beggars would ride.

The story is told from numerous points of view, which normally doesn’t bother me but with this book it confused me. Plus, it didn’t help that there was a time jump at the start and the main characters changed their names in an attempt to disguise their true identity. Just as I began to grasp the character’s past, their name changed and I was left wondering what was happening!

The MCs, Ash and Jenna, were well developed and although both had difficult pasts, their goals were the same; to kill the king of Arden. I liked Jenna’s fiery character and outlook on life, to enjoy the present and not think too far ahead or behind.

“Karn!” she cried out. Vaulting from the bed, she knelt beside the healer, but Karn was already there.
Swearing, the lieutenant rolled the boy onto his back. “What happened? Did you stab him, too?”
“Shut it,” Jenna said. “I think he’s fainted.”

Ash, on the other hand, was a worrier and I liked him to begin with, but I soon became irritated with his plans to kill the king. His ideas for assassination were all in his head because he never took any action. I don’t think he would have irritated me as much if he had tried and failed (without getting caught, of course) but Ash appeared to be simply biding his time. At times I wondered whether he genuinely wanted to murder Montaigne or not!

“That way I won’t waste time watching people die who might have lived if I only had the skills.” Despite his best efforts, his voice shook.
“That’s the thing about guilt,” his father said. “It always seems like there’s enough to go around. The only ones who don’t take a share are the ones who are actually guilty.”

My favourite character was Lila. At the start I wasn’t too sure how she fits into the story but her bluntness was entertaining. She certainly added the much needed humour to Flamecaster and it helped that she was pretty kickass!

When the thane spotted the dragon, he took a quick step back and gripped the hilt of his sword. “Is…is that what I think it is?”
“That depends on what you think it is,” Strangward said.
Lila couldn’t help liking the emissary’s style. Whether she’d keep liking him remained to be seen.

To conclude, I didn’t enjoy this story nearly as much as I had expected, especially given the hype it received. Perhaps if I had read the Seven Realms series, I might have enjoyed it more but it is unlikely that I will continue this series.

Notable Scene:

“That’s not what I mean, and you bloody well know it,” Adrian hissed. “Yes, she loved him. He’s dead because he loved her back, and because she loved me, and he shouldn’t have to pay that price for love.”

“Aye, there’s something we agree on.” Taliesin set her cup down. “He shouldn’t have had to pay that price. Love is the root of so much suffering and misery, so much loss. It’s the worst thing in the world, to risk yourself by loving someone. At the same time, it’s the best thing in the world-and worth the risk…”

Shattered Realms Series:

1. Flamecaster

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

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Review: Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan

April 18th, 2016 @ 12:01 am
Posted by Kristie under Review Tags: , , , , ,

Tell the Wind and FireTitle: Tell the Wind and Fire

Author: Sarah Rees Brennan

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: N/A

Publication Date: April 5, 2016

Format: Hardcover, 368 Pages

ISBN-10: 054431817X (Clarion/HMH)

ISBN-13: 978-0544318175 (Clarion/HMH)

Reviewed by: Kristie

Synopsis:

In a city divided between opulent luxury in the Light and fierce privations in the Dark, a determined young woman survives by guarding her secrets.

Lucie Manette was born in the Dark half of the city, but careful manipulations won her a home in the Light, celebrity status, and a rich, loving boyfriend. Now she just wants to keep her head down, but her boyfriend has a dark secret of his own—one involving an apparent stranger who is destitute and despised. Lucie alone knows the young men’s deadly connection, and even as the knowledge leads her to make a grave mistake, she can trust no one with the truth.

Blood and secrets alike spill out when revolution erupts. With both halves of the city burning, and mercy nowhere to be found, can Lucie save either boy—or herself?

Quick & Dirty: Ominous and dark tale of a girl who unwittingly becomes a pawn in a war she didn’t even know was coming. Based off of A Tale of Two Cities.

Opening Sentence: It was the best of times until it was the worst of times.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Tell the Wind and Fire is a young adult novel that is heavily inspired by A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. The theme of the story is the same just some details and facts have been changed to make it more of a “modern” story. This story is set with an ominous tone and throughout the story I couldn’t help but think over and over again about how unfair life is. The good guys and the bad guys are just relative to what side you are siding with. What happens when you become the symbol (pawn) in a civil war (rebellion) that you didn’t even know was happening?

The story follows Lucie as she two years after she was liberated from Dark New York City to Light New York City. Lucie is happy and content now with her life in the Light. She doesn’t talk much about her life from before because there are too many secrets that would endanger her status. Secrets that would have her killed. At the beginning of the novel, Lucie and her boyfriend, Ethan, are on vacation. As they are traveling back to Light New York, Ethan is ripped from her arms and sentenced for immediate execution because he was seen giving secrets to the sans merci, a Dark group bent on rebellion. Lucie can’t save him, she can’t think of a valid excuse to keep him alive until a doppleganger wearing Ethan’s same face interrupts his execution. Lucie, Ethan and Carwyn (the doppleganger) are brought back to the city to face justice but instead it is swept under the rug. No one can know Ethan has a doppleganger because it is illegal to have one.

He looked like Ethan. I hadn’t confused the two of them, but seeing the familiar, beloved lines of his face, even on someone else, had confused me. I’d been able to be familiar with him, to take chances on him without feeling as if they were the deadly, life-altering risks they were.

Because of that, I’d trusted him, much more than I should have, when I shouldn’t have trusted him at all. He was my beloved’s shadow self, an image made out of darkness, but worse than that he was a stranger, and I did not know what he was capable of.

Lucie is swept unwillingly into a revolution in her name. As the Golden Thread in the Dark, the Dark believe that she will save them. They believe that Ethan’s family has been holding her as a prisoner. Lucie is just trying to keep herself and her friends alive. She hates what has been going on in Dark New York but she really hasn’t been doing much to change it since she left. Ethan begins to act funny and when he is arrested for real, Lucie must come up with a plan to save his life.

Tell the Wind and Fire has more of a “modern” feel with current technology but with the added achievement of magic. Light and Dark magic was created many years before, not everyone has a propensity to magic. Light and Dark magic users are separated from one another but they dependent on each other. Since there are more Light magic users, the Dark have been quarantined into certain areas of cities because they are scared of their powers. Light magic poisons their users so they must be drained by Dark magic.

We need them. That is the truth everybody knows and nobody speaks. That’s why we resent them and fear them and tell stories describing how they are evil, how they deserve all they get and we deserve all that we have.

People always hate those they rely on.

***

When the power of Light and Dark was discovered, the world was transformed. There was no going back: the shine and shadow of magic swallowed the old world up.

That was when the world was torn between those who practice Light magic, born of sun and moon and stones, and those who practice Dark magic, which comes from life instead of light. Dark magic uses blood, and the dead.

No wonder the people who could do no magic were scared of Dark magicians, and not of Light. Besides, there were always more of the Light magicians—ten times more. We were always stronger, and we were told that meant we were better.

What I liked about Lucie was that she really was unremarkable. She became famous, a national symbol, even though she barely had powers of her own. She wasn’t super powerful, she didn’t have special powers that came out of nowhere. The power lay in the symbol that she became for a rebellion. It was helped by her good looks and why she became the Golden Thread in the Dark.

My father told the truth and was punished. I told a lie and was richly rewarded.

Overall, this novel has a dark, ominous feel. A lot of bad, unjustifiable things happen. If you have any idea of how A Tale of Two Cities ends then you have an idea how this one will go. My only complaint was the ending was too quick. It has an open ending and I just don’t have any faith that the story gets any happier from there.

Notable Scene:

“I’m sorry,” Ethan breathed into my hair. “I never meant to mess up this badly, I never, never meant to draw you into all this. That’s why I treated you like I did on the show. I don’t want you associated with any of the trouble I’ve caused. I’m so sorry.”

He didn’t seem to realize the implications of all he had said on television: that people truly would think he was guilty of conspiring with rebels. He’d led a charmed life, easy and luxurious. He’d never had to face horror and death. He could not help being naive, expecting there to be no consequences forever. I could not help wanting to shield him from those consequences.

“It’s okay,” I breathed back. “It’s going to be okay.”

But I had lost the power to convince other people of a lie, and I had never been able to convincingly lie to myself.

crow3

FTC Advisory: Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt provided me with a copy of Tell the Wind and Fire. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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