Tag: Young Adult (page 1 of 134)

BOOK REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Helix (International Sensory Assassin Network #2) by Mary Ting

BOOK REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Helix (International Sensory Assassin Network #2) by Mary Ting

I. LOVED. THIS. BOOK! I'm so grateful I got to be on this tour and I devoured this book oh so fast! So please check out my 5 Star Review below and enter in a fabuous giveaway. Enjoy!

BOOK REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Helix (International Sensory Assassin Network #2) by Mary TingHelix (International Sensory Assassin Network #2)
by Mary Ting
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

ALLIANCES ARE FORMING. THE RESISTANCE IS GROWING.
EVERYTHING IS ABOUT TO CHANGE.

With her memory still fragmented, Ava returns to the International Sensory Assassin Network (ISAN) to find the twin sister she never knew she had.

But as Ava hunts for information, she finds herself tangled in a web of yet more lies and conspiracy. The Helix serum may not be required to access her superpowers, and the number of male assassins-previously considered too volatile to tolerate Helix-is growing in every territory.

The more Ava uncovers, the more of a threat she becomes to ISAN. Her only salvation may be to join the rebels-if she isn't killed first.

Review:

Helix was an action packed ride that had me on the edge of my seat.  The story was rich and intricate, the characters had my emotions pulled every which way and I loved how the stakes were even higher!  This book was just as addicting as the first, and I loved being back in this world.  If you love dystopian and books that play out like a movie, then you have to pick up this series!

I wasn’t just a daughter whose father had experimented on her. I was the very thing ISAN should fear.

 

✮ A Different Take:

There was nothing I wouldn’t do for her, even give up my own life. She was my world. No matter how long it took to get her memory back, I would be patient. But we were running out of time.

This story started out with Rhett’s point of view!  And we switched back and forth between Ava and Rhett throughout the story.  I was dying to get into Rhett’s head, in ISAN, and now we got to hear every single thought of his.  It added so much emotion and allowed us to learn about Rhett inside and out.  I absolutely loved how much depth it added to the story!

 

✮ Love is Powerful:

I love you with every breath, with every fiber of my being. My favorite place in the world is next to you. – Rhett to Ava

This story held the most beautiful love story.  With little pieces of the past coming back to Ava, it filled my heart with so many emotions.  There were moments that made me smile, made me have tears in my eyes and others that gutted me.  We got to see every single side of Ava and Rhett, and it made me love them that much more.  What they would do for each other?  It. Was. Breathtaking.  If you like to read about a power couple with an ever lasting love story, Ava and Rhett are it!

 

✮ Friends are your Family:

I ran to a hole in the floor and caught a glimpse below. Gunshots echoed and red Taser beams flashed across the darkness. I had no choice. My team needed me.
I jumped in just as the floor sealed.

The side characters in this series had so much life and shined so brightly!  We got to spend time and learn even more about Brooke, Tamara, Ozzie, and Reyna.  And while yes they were two groups of friends, they felt more like family to me.  They had each other’s backs.  They trusted each other.  They would even sacrifice it all for one another. 

 

✮ Action and Twists:

“You’re a traitor. You’re a monster. You made me do what I had to do. I had to … You made me forget Rhett . Forget Ozzie. Forget Reyna . This is all your fault. My father. My sister. My mother …” My lips quivered as the words died on my tongue, and I couldn’t hold it any longer. I choked on my words and sobbed.

The action and peril was intense, and I loved how this story continued to build and grow from the first book.  It became even more intricate and I soaked in every single tiny detail I could.  Especially since we were starting to get pieces to the bigger puzzle.  We still have a lot to learn, but what we did learn in this book?  It was exciting!  But there was one twist I never saw coming.  My mind was blown!  And it made me want to go back and skim certain parts of the first book and parts of the second book too.  So I did.  And ohhhhhhhh it was such a tricky and genius twist, I loved it!

Breathless. Speechless. His words filled me. A warm tingle traveled through my veins. His featherlight fingers journeyed up my arm to the curve of my neck, and then his thumb glided over my mouth.

Helix ended at the perfect spot.  I loved that we could finally have a moment to breathe, but at the same point I’m dying to know what happens next.  Especially since I’m not exactly sure how everything is going to play out.  So if you love action packed stories, intricate characters and a story line that’ll keep you glued to the pages, definitely add this series to your tbr!

 

PS There was a line in Chapter 4 of ISAN that made me think I knew something about Ava’s past and I can’t wait to see if I guessed correctly or not in the next book.  Because I know we’ll get our answer in there, eeks, I can’t wait to find out!

*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book, provided by Xpresso Book Tours. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

 

 

About Mary Ting:

International Bestselling, Award-Winning Author Mary Ting writes soulful, spellbinding stories that excite the imagination and captivate readers all over the world. Her books run a wide range of genres and her storytelling talents have won her a devoted legion of fans and garnered critical praise.

Becoming an author happened by chance. It was a way to grieve the death of her beloved grandmother, and inspired by a dream she had in high school. After realizing she wanted to become a full-time author, Mary retired from teaching after twenty years. She also had the privilege of touring with the Magic Johnson Foundation to promote literacy and her children’s chapter book: No Bullies Allowed.

Mary resides in Southern California with her husband, two children, and two little dogs, Mochi and Mocha. She enjoys oil painting and making jewelry.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Bookbub

 

Giveaway:

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BOOK REVIEW: The Girl the Sea Gave Back (Sky in the Deep) by Adrienne Young

BOOK REVIEW: The Girl the Sea Gave Back (Sky in the Deep) by Adrienne YoungThe Girl the Sea Gave Back (Sky in the Deep)
by Adrienne Young
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

The new gut-wrenching epic from the New York Times bestselling author of Sky in the Deep.

For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse.

For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when their chieftain looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again—a home.

Review:

Ohhhhh boy that ending. Of all of the books to have an open ending WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE THIS ONE?!?! Even though it actually makes perfect sense with how the rest of the book was set up, that doesn’t mean I have to like it!!!

Okay, soooo I only recently, and yes, finally, got around to reading Sky in the Deep. I obviously LOVED it and immediately ran to request this ARC. The cover is SO gorgeous and I was so excited to read anything else that this woman had to offer, especially if I was able to get any kind of glimpse at my other babies. I was a little skeptical when I saw quite a few so/so reviews and wondered how that could be. Now that I’ve finished, I get it.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a very solid 4 stars for me. Like a few of the other reviewers out there, the actual story didn’t grab me like the previous one did. As I mentioned in that review, I waited to read SITD so for long because Viking stuff makes me nervous. I do NOT like reading about excessive, gory violence at all. When that story was more about two groups forming a peace and two people from each side slowly falling in love, I couldn’t have been happier. This on the other hand, had allllll kinds of blood, violence, and gore. It hurt. It was hard to read. And while you could tell that the story would probably end with Tova and Halvard getting together, it was not a main thread of this story.

No, this story, even though it had viewpoints from both Tova and Halvard, was about Tova. It was about fate, and her past, and their future. I thought that the way Young set up Tova’s Truthtongue heritage and abilities was super interesting and well done. I have always loved reading about Fate and how different people thing it rules their life. Look at this quote:

“Why did you help me?” I asked, my voice softening.
She looked surprised at the question, studying my face before she answered.
“Because you’re not supposed to die.”
“If I’m not supposed to die, then I won’t.”

She searched my eyes, making me feel unsteady on my feet again. “That’s not how fate works.”


I love that in Tova’s world, even if something is supposed to happen, or fated to happen, there are a million different forces at work based on people’s decisions that could change how a certain event could take place or change a person’s life. It’s delicious to wrap your mind around.

Other than kind of being bummed about the romance and also being kind of emotionally burned out by the violence and the way in which Tova was treated by the Svell I was a little…thrown off by the flashbacks. I really felt like I was missing something when I was reading them. I get that Tova’s set up her past and showed some big events but I felt like I was confused about why we also got a glimpse into Halvard’s past at that same point in time. I couldn’t make any connections, personally. Maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention? But I really just felt like I was missing something big.

Either way, even though I was a tad disappointed by the plot of this book, it was still GOOD. Young’s writing is phenomenal and I will continue to read anything she puts out.

Huge thanks to NetGalley and Wednesday books for allowing me to read this eARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
 

BOOK REVIEW: SERPENT & DOVE (Serpent & Dove #1) by Shelby Mahurin

BOOK REVIEW: SERPENT & DOVE (Serpent & Dove #1) by Shelby MahurinSerpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove #1)
by Shelby Mahurin
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Bound as one to love, honor, or burn.

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou's, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou's most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all.

Review:

This book has a plot that I never knew I needed. I mean marriages of convenience do interest me but this kind?!?!? Sworn enemies getting married to each other even though one half doesn’t actually know the other half is a sworn enemy!?!?! Drool-worthy, let me tell you.

Initial thoughts about this book:
-Loved the magic system. I LOVE when magic has balance and can’t be flung about all willy-nilly and this particular system has balance in a way that I’ve never seen done before. The witch literally has to give something up (could be her sight, could be a broken finger, could be a memory) in exchange for the magic coming to life. It seemed to me that the thing the person gives up is about equal to the magic being done, too, which makes even more sense.

-OMG LOU. AND COCO. For anyone who has read this yet, does Lou not remind you of the early assassin version of Celaena Sardothian?!?!?! She dresses up and pretends to be other people to trick literally anyone and steal from them, she’s got a FILTHY mouth which is hilarious especially when she’s trying to embarrass Reid, and she’s just an all around bad ass. I loved her so, so much. I also loved her friendship with Coco, and Coco in general. Great example of female friendship in YA and she was also an all around bad ass, duh.

-REID. Do I really even need to explain myself here? He’s a grump. And so innocent. Kinda like Jamie from Outlander. He may know how to kiss and how to rile Lou up but does that mean he knows anything else about women? Nope. Lol. It was fun watching Lou teach him. And of course he’s really such a sweetheart underneath the gruff exterior (surprise, surprise). Their slow and gradual romance was uhhhh *chef kiss* perfect.

The story here was riveting from the very beginning. It’s the witches pitted again the Chasseurs, a holy order or men sword to rid the earth of witches and protect the people. What surprised me was how truly vicious the witches could be. Yes, some of them like Lou and Coco were hiding in plain sight and wouldn’t hurt a human if they didn’t have to but there were several scenes where the witches attacked and just started killing innocent people. I think at this point I’ve just read too many books where magic and witches are a lot less violet and gruesome as all that. It definitely made things seem more desperate between the two though and of course made things more interesting when Lou was trying to get Reid to understand that just because some witches are horrible creatures, that it doesn’t mean they all are. It’s that delicious gray area of life that makes morals so complicated. 

Anwayyyy after that freakin kind-of-sort-of cliffhanger I am DYING to get my hands on the next book! So glad I picked this one up.

Huge thanks to NetGalley and HarperTeen for allowing me to read this eARC early in exchange for an honest review!

BOOK REVIEW: Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer

BOOK REVIEW: Call It What You Want by Brigid KemmererCall It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

When his dad is caught embezzling funds from half the town, Rob goes from popular lacrosse player to social pariah. Even worse, his father's failed suicide attempt leaves Rob and his mother responsible for his care.

Everyone thinks of Maegan as a typical overachiever, but she has a secret of her own after the pressure got to her last year. And when her sister comes home from college pregnant, keeping it from her parents might be more than she can handle.

When Rob and Maegan are paired together for a calculus project, they're both reluctant to let anyone through the walls they've built. But when Maegan learns of Rob's plan to fix the damage caused by his father, it could ruin more than their fragile new friendship . . .

In her compulsively readable storytelling, Brigid Kemmerer pens another captivating, heartfelt novel that asks the question: Is it okay to do something wrong for the right reasons?

Review:

Call It What You Want was a beautifully, emotional story.  If you’re looking for something that will consume you, pull your emotions every which way and will stay with you for a long time to come, then definitely pick this one up.  I easily became obsessed with Rob and Maegan’s lives.  And I’m so happy I fell madly in love with another book by Brigid Kemmerer.

We were from two different worlds once: popular boy and nerdy girl. We’re still from two different worlds: cop’s daughter and criminal’s son.

This story started off with an emotional bang and we get brought right into Rob’s life.  His dad betrayed his family in multiple ways and he and his mother were left with the damage and fall out from it all.  There was no escaping it and I could feel Rob’s heart bleeding from the pages.  And in the next chapter we were dropped right into Maegan’s world.  Her sister came home from college pregnant, and if that wasn’t enough to push the tension in her house through the roof, Maegan did something that labeled her a cheater at school.

“I’m sorry,” I say. “Maybe . . . we can start over.”
His eyes search my face. “Fine.” He puts out a hand like a businessman. “Rob Lachlan. Non-slacker.”
“Maegan Day.” I shake his hand. Most boys at school shake hands with the passivity of a trained cocker spaniel, but Rob’s fingers close around mine securely. I can feel the strength in his grip. I have to swallow. “Overly judgmental.”

Rob and Maegan had both been branded at their school.  They became outcasts and their classmates had no problem saying horrible things to their faces.  They were both drowning in their own problems and pain, and it felt like they were both so alone.  So when Rob and Maegan got partnered together in math class, to work on a project, I had so much hope.  But right from the start they got off on the wrong foot and were completely awkward around each other.

I pull a slip of loose-leaf out of my binder and write a quick note to him.
Are you okay
When I slide it on top of his notebook, he stares at the words for the longest time.
I wish I could crawl inside his head and figure him out. Then he gives me a brief nod, folds the note in half, and tucks it into his backpack.
And then, for the rest of the period, he keeps his eyes focused forward and never once turns to look at me.

But as they met more and more, they started to talk with each.  When Rob gave little peaks of his life to Maegan, my eyes would sting with tears.  His world was pain and I hurt so bad listening to him.  But Maegan’s world was extremely emotional too.  Even just a family dinner at her house was a mine field.  The tension was horrific and drama and emotions were always running high.  Rob and Maegan both wanted to escape their houses and who they were.  So when they were next to each other, not even talking, it seemed like they felt a little less alone.

I don’t deserve her friendship. I don’t deserve kindness. Not from anyone.
But her fingers were so warm on mine. The air so quiet between us. The beginning of trust.
Then her friends showed up.
We know who he is.

If you’re a sucker for tortured characters, you’re going to love Rob.  His thoughts were dark, deep and brutally honest.  I quickly connected and was consumed by Rob.  But I desperately wanted to protect him since he was so immersed with his hurt and it felt suffocating at times.  And when obstacles were thrown in his path, I just wanted him to find some happiness or peace.  He deserved it and I hoped he’d find that with Maegan, while also helping her with her pain.

“One mistake doesn’t define you.”
She sniffs and carefully swipes at her eyes. “You’re going to wreck all of Sam’s handiwork.”
That makes me smile. I want to touch her so badly that my hand aches , but I still can’t tell if she feels the same way, or if she’s saying these things out of kindness.

On top of Meagan and Rob, there were two side characters I became attached to also.  Samantha, was Maegan’s sister, and I I loved watching their relationship play out.  And Owen, who seemed like a possible friend to Rob.  Watching both of those relationships transform added so much depth to this story, especially since Samantha and Owen shined so brightly.  So YES, I definitely recommend this book.  If you love YA, emotional stories and deep characters then definitely pick this one up!

BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: Rage (Stormheart #2) by Cora Carmack

BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: Rage (Stormheart #2) by Cora CarmackRage (Stormheart #2)
by Cora Carmack
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Princess or adventurer.

Duty or freedom.

Her Kingdom or the Stormhunter she loves.

If Aurora knows anything, it's that choices have consequences. To set things right, she joins a growing revolution on the streets of Pavan.

In disguise as the rebel Roar, she puts her knowledge of the palace to use to aid the rebellion. But the Rage season is at its peak and not a day passes without the skies raining down destruction. Yet these storms are different—they churn with darkness, and attack with a will that’s desperate and violent.

This feels like more than rage.

It feels like war.

Review

Initial thoughts after finishing: OHHHH SHOOTTTTT, lolllll. Famous last words, amiright?😈 

I always appreciate when books start out just about where the previous one in the series left off and that’s exactly what this one did. The group of hunters had made it back to Pavan only to find out that Aurora’s kingdom is now in complete disarray. It’s easy to tell that something just isn’t right and Aurora knows she needs to do whatever necessary to get into that castle.

This book, to me, felt quite a bit different than the first. The writing itself was just as amazing, if not more, but the story was split off into four different directions this time. While I get that they were all necessary because all were coming from very different people doing very different things, it kind of broke things up for me a little bit. I still obviously very much enjoyed myself, though. 

I loved getting to see Aurora getting more courageous and strong while still making mistakes and making questionable decisions (and actually owning up to them). It was refreshing to see. I also loved that she told Kiran to stuff it more, lol. He was still pretty overprotective but she just kind of was like well, I know you don’t want me to do this but here I am doing it anyway so you can just DEAL, BUDDY. Yassss Queen. 

We were introduced to some new, and very interesting characters that I can’t wait to see more of and obviously we got to spend more time with our old favorites too. (BTW I KNEW IT!!!!!) <–You all will understand that when you read the part I’m talking about. I am dying to know more about that particular part/person. Also I’m still super confused about the Stormlord. Like who TF is he. I’m guessing he’s related to someone we know but I honestly have no theories whatsoever.

Also….that ending……very very VERY VERY interested to see where *that* will take us muahahahah. That’s all I’m giving you for now.  If you liked the first one, you’re definitely going to want to pick this one out as soon as it’s out!

Huge thanks to Netgalley and Tor Teen for allowing me to read an eARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

 

RAGE is available NOW!
Amazon: http://tiny.cc/rageamazon
Barnes and Noble: http://tiny.cc/ragebn
Books-A-Million: http://tiny.cc/ragebam
Apple Books: http://tiny.cc/rageapple
Book Depository: http://tiny.cc/ragebd

 

About the Author
Cora Carmack is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of New Adult Romance and YA fantasy.  Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages around the world. Cora lives in Austin, TX, and on any given day you might find her typing away at her computer, flying to various cities around the world, or just watching Netflix with her kitty Katniss and her dog Sherlock. But she can always be found on Twitter and Instagram (@coracarmack), Facebook (www.facebook.com/coracarmackbooks), and her website (www.coracarmack.com).

 

Want to meet Cora and celebrate Rage’s release in person? Check out her tour stops below and see if she’s coming to a city near you!

 

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Link:

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The following is an exclusive excerpt from Rage!

Excerpt 1

Two nights later it was time to make their move. They had left the
Rock hidden deep in the woods, hoping that would be enough to
keep it safe. Aurora had cried as they released their horses to the
wilds. Honey had tried to follow her to the remnant camp, but
listened when Aurora ordered her to stay. For so long, that horse
had been her only company, her only solace. She hated leaving
her behind. But it was impossible to take her with them.
The night died a thousand deaths as they waited for the perfect
moment. Again and again, the dark sky lit up like the world itself
was splitting at the seams. Perhaps it was.
Aurora wore a thick cloak, but when the night was dark be- tween
bolts of skyfire, she could still see the faint glow of her own heart
beneath the fabric. It flickered faster, reminding her with every
frenzied heartbeat that she was about to go home. She was about
to get all the answers she had been desiring and dreading. She
was not the same girl she had been last time she stood this close
to her home. She’d left powerless with nothing more than hope in
her hands, and she’d come back with a storm wrapped around her
heart.
The skyfire storm approached from the southwest, and while it was
not directly upon the city yet, she could already hear the voices of
the remnants carrying on the wind, begging at the city gate for
admittance. She ached to go back to them, to do something, but as
soon as she turned her head in their direction, Kiran was there. His
voice was a low whisper as he said, “There’s no time. We must go
now, while there’s a distraction.”
She understood that, understood that Kiran and the rest of the
hunters were doing this all for her, and she hadn’t even gathered
the courage to tell them why. But she had not realized that once
she came home with magic, she could still feel as utterly powerless
as before.

She opened her mouth to argue, but it was Duke who stopped her
this time. “We can’t fight the storm either, Roar. This is Storm- ling
territory. We would put everyone in greater danger if we tried to
interfere.”
For the thousandth time, she wanted to throw back the hood that
covered her hair and declare to the world that she was Stormling,
that she was home. That she wanted to make things better.
But just as she had been shaped into something new by the
wildlands, Pavan too had changed.
Aurora had done what she could to help in her time among the
remnants. Kiran kept scolding her for giving food and supplies
away for free rather than trying to barter, arguing it made them
stand out too much. But after that display by Casimir, she knew
these people had nothing to trade, and even if they did she would
not take it from them. Each hour had heaped more guilt upon her
shoulders, until she wondered how she could still walk upright.
Once they were inside the city, she would tell Kiran the truth. She
would tell them all the truth. Even if it meant they all left her behind.
Tonight, she had led them all through what remained of Pavan’s
famed wheat fields. They were largely scorched or otherwise
destroyed by storms, and in the few untouched areas, they clearly
had not been tended to in weeks. The land was overgrown with
weeds and other plants.
She could no longer hear the remnants over the rumbling storm by
the time they stopped at their destination, a point on the city wall
far out of sight from the gate where the soldiers’ attention was now
focused. She had been sad to observe in recent days that when a
storm hit, the men on duty seemed more concerned with keeping
remnants out than being on alert should the storm slip through the
city’s Stormling defenses, which meant the only other worry they
had were the soldiers stationed in each of the high towers facing
the cardinal directions. So they had chosen a spot equidistant from
the two nearest towers, and thus their best chance at scaling the
wall unseen.

It was a gamble. But no one expected them to have an earth witch
on their side.
Jinx knelt in the dirt, and reached into the breast pocket of her
leather jacket, pulling out a single seed. She pushed that
insignificant seed into the soil, planting each finger around it like
the roots of a tree.
It took only a few breaths before a tiny green leaf broke through to
open air, unfurling as though taking its first breath. The leaves
grew and multiplied, followed by reaching vines that moved quickly
over the earth until they found the stone wall that surrounded the
city of Pavan. Faster, the vines began to uncurl, reaching higher
and higher, winding about each other to reach the top. Roar
recognized the plant as Rezna’s rest, the same plant she’d relied
on for weeks in the wild to knock her out when she lost her
emotions to a storm. The plant seemed to whisper as it climbed,
gasping and growing in a way that reminded her too much of the
people who were even now grasping the front gates in fear,
begging for mercy, hoping just for a reprieve from the onslaught of
this dangerous world.
When the vines had grown thick and sturdy, Jinx sat back, her
normally tawny face dotted with sweat, and her skin several
shades paler than usual. “That should work,” she said in a whisper.
Ransom was there a moment later to pull her to her feet. Jinx
brushed him off with a cavalier smile and turned to look at the
others.
“Who wants to try first? It’s completely safe. Probably.” “Probably?”
Bait asked, his eyebrows raised in exaggeration. Roar stepped
forward, her voice quiet but firm as she said, “I
will.” She saw Kiran about to object out of the corner of her eye,
and she held up a hand. “I’m doing this.” After all, they were all
only here because of her, because she asked, and because they
now counted her part of their team. Her stomach clenched, and
she re- fused to let herself think about how they might feel
differently soon.

Before anyone else could object, she marched up to the thick vine
and grabbed hold. She lifted her foot, finding a sturdy notch in the
vines, and then pulled herself up a little with her arms. She wanted
to take it slow, to step cautiously, but she knew there was too much
at risk to be anything but quick and efficient. When she reached
the top, she was relieved to find that Jinx had grown the vine not
only up the wall, but down the other side. For one brief second, she
allowed herself to look out over the city of Pavan. There were
hardly any lights to be seen, and the streets were de- serted. She
knew all the people were likely hiding in shelters, but it didn’t stop
the unease she felt at seeing her city so lifeless. If she dared to
lower her shields, she could probably feel the souls of the people
below, maybe even pick up a bit of their emotions, but it was too
dangerous to risk her walls being breached.
She felt the rustle of the vine as someone else began their as-
cent, and quickly threw her legs over to continue her climb down.
When she was a few feet off the ground, she jumped, the sound of
her landing swallowed by a boom of thunder that seemed to shake
the skies.
Kiran was there by the time she found steady footing, having
dropped from the top without bothering to climb down at all. “And
you call me reckless,” she whispered. “You could have bro- ken
your leg.”
He didn’t answer, simply closed the distance between them, curled
his hand around the nape of her neck, and pulled her for- ward into
the softest kiss he had ever given her. It lasted only a moment, but
they stayed close, heads bent together, lips a whisper away. And
slowly, the frenetic beat of her heart eased, the tension in her
fingers loosened, and she felt all her fear slide somewhere farther
back in her mind, pushed away by the intensity that always rose up
between them.
She could do this. They could do this.
This man had taken down hurricanes and lived through fire-
storms, and he loved her. She would tell him the truth, and he

would understand. He had to, because she wasn’t sure how she
could get through the next few days without him. If she searched
for her mother, only to find out the worst . . . she did not know what
she would do then.
Kiran whispered, “I can feel you tensing up again.”
A thump signaled another hunter’s arrival on this side of the wall.
Roar gave Kiran the best smile she could manage and prom- ised,
“Later.”
She had been promising later for days, but this time she meant it.
She pulled him down for another hard kiss, and when they pulled
apart, he looked more worried, not less.
“I promise I will tell you everything—”
He cut her off. “But first, we have to find your mother. I under-
stand, princess.”
She winced, and hoped he did not see it in the dark. “I also need to
find out about what has happened since I left.”
“We all do. We need to know what kind of trouble we are in here.”
Trouble she had dragged them into. Goddess, she was selfish. If
she had any honor, she would tell them right here, right now and
let them leave before they got involved any further. But the greedy
part of her was not going to make it any easier for Kiran to leave
her. If she could just prepare him, and say the right words at the
right time, maybe she did not have to lose everything she had
gained in the last few months.
Kiran laid his palm over her heart, and she felt the zing of sky- fire
rise up to meet his touch. She didn’t think he could feel it, but it
always made her feel as if her heart were too full, as if it might
burst under his attention.
“What are you two up to over there?” Bait asked. Roar hadn’t even
heard him descend. He continued, “Am I going to see some- thing
inappropriate the next time the sky lights up? Because some of us

have virgin eyes. Not from lack of effort, mind you.”
Kiran rolled his eyes, and blew out a steady breath before pull- ing
away. “Nothing to see. Your purity will remain intact.”
“Too bad.” It was dark, but somehow Roar could feel Kiran’s glare
fix on the novice hunter, and by the way the redheaded teen threw
up his hands, he could feel it too. “What? I’m only saying you could
both stand to loosen up. You act like we’re breaking into a hostile
city in the middle of a violent storm during the dead of night and
could be caught and jailed at any moment.”
No one replied for a long moment. By skyfire’s streaking light, they
saw Jinx step down gracefully from the vine and head toward
them.
“What? No laughs for that one?” Bait frowned. “I thought it was
clever.”
“Now’s not the time to be clever,” Jinx said.
 “It’s always a good
time to be clever.”
“No, it isn’t,” Duke said from halfway up the
vine.
The old man took longer than all the rest, and Roar watched
him as best she could in the fractured darkness. She would tell him
second, after Kiran. She was fairly certain he already suspected
her secret, but she would need him on her side if she were going to
convince the crew to stay and help her put things right here. If that
could even be done—the unknowns were unraveling con- stantly in
her mind, threatening to pull her into a panic.
Of course, Duke was not the only one among their group who
suspected Roar had been untruthful about aspects of her past. Sly,
who had somehow appeared on this side of the wall without Roar
ever glimpsing her on the vine, stood leaning against the wall. With
her arms crossed over her chest, and her eyes as sharp as ever,
Sly scanned the abandoned city around them. Roar was relieved
not to have those keen eyes on her for a change.
Ransom was the last to come down the vine, his large body
moving with surprising agility. Roar supposed she shouldn’t be

shocked—he was a hunter, after all.
Once everyone had cleared the wall, Jinx crossed back to the vine.
With a brush of her fingers and a few whispered words of peace,
the vine grew dry and brittle, and broke apart in the wind. After a
few gusts from the storm, there was no evidence of their break-in
to be found.

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