YA

Book Review: The Red Labyrinth by Meredith Tate (eARC)

The Red Labyrinth

Author: Meredith Tate

Publication Date: 04 Jun 2019

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Pages: 352

Publisher: Flux

Synopsis:

The massive labyrinth was built to protect Zadie Kalvers’ isolated desert town. Unfortunately, living in the maze’s shadow makes her feel anything but safe. Even without its enchanted deathtraps and illusions, a mysterious killer named Dex lurks in its corridors, terrorizing anyone in his path.

But when Zadie’s best friend vanishes into the labyrinth-and everyone mysteriously forgets he exists- completing the maze becomes her only hope of saving him. In desperation, Zadie bribes the only person who knows the safe path through-Dex-into forming a tenuous alliance.

Navigating a deadly garden, a lethal blood-filled hourglass, and other traps-with an untrustworthy murderer for her guide-Zadie’s one wrong step from certain death. But with time running out before her friend (and secret crush) is lost forever, Zadie must reach the exit and find him. If Dex and the labyrinth don’t kill her first.

My Thoughts:

Thank you NetGalley and Flux for providing this eARC in exchange for an honest review.

I love dystopian tropes, which is why I was originally drawn to this book.

Right away, we emerge into a grim, post-apocalyptic world that consists of Blanks (people who are magically inept) of Skilled (people with varied magical abilities that’s based on a ranking system). The caveat? You’re born into these classes.

The story follows Zadie, a Blank, whose best friends with a Skilled, Limitless Landon…and of course, love is blossoming!! YES!!! Landon is referred to as limitless since his abilities essentially have no bounds. Society looks down on Zadie though since she’s not a skilled, but Landon has never held it against her.

Once Zadie actually goes through the challenges/traps of the Labyrinth, the plot loses a bit of steam. Additionally, the end of the story is a bit rushed, which is unfortunate.

Overall, I enjoyed the story, I just wanted a bit more.

Rating: 3.5 stars

YA

Book Review: Of Rioters and Royals by M.L. Greye

And eye color was everything. It was a way to interpret a person’s talents. Certain abilities were intrinsic to a person, depending on the shade of their eyes.

Of Rioters and Royals

Author: M.L. Greye

Publication Date: 18 Jan 2019

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Pages: 304

Publisher: Amazon Digital

Synopsis:

Emry is a Royal – a princess of Enlennd. As is tradition, she must have a knight at her side as her protector. The only way to appoint one is through The Trials. Her Challengers from the five regions of Enlennd must compete for the infamous title of Princess’s Knight. The problem, though, is that the people of Enlennd are split into two categories: Rioters and Royals. Finding the perfect knight may be the last of her worries. War is coming to Enlennd. 

Declan is a Rioter. An upriser. An anarchist. He mistrusts the Jewels – the sovereign family of Enlennd. Yet, he is offering himself up as a Challenger in The Trials. The Mistress, leader of the Rioters, has a mission for him. The first step is for him to become the Princess’s Knight. He is ready for the task, until he actually meets Emry and discovers that betraying her would be much more difficult than he’d thought. 

My Thoughts:

When I first started reading the prologue, I was a little bogged down with the sheer amount of information presented in order to set the foundation for the book. It was not particularly exciting for me, which put a bit of a sour taste in my mouth when I was starting chapter one. My palate was immediately cleansed once I dove into this riveting story full of magic, adventure, plot twists, and romance.

I was really intrigued by the idea of a person’s eye color predetermining the elemental magic that he or she would would harness. For example, Declan is a teal, so he has unnatural speed and partial control over nature. Princess Emerald on the hand is a silver, which is incredibly rare as are her magical abilities.

I loved the The Hunger Games esque style Trials that Declan and the other challengers faced in order to procure the prestigious position of Princess Emerald’s Knight. While Declan originally volunteers for the Trials as a means to gain access to the Princess so he can kidnap her and bring her back to the leader of the Rioters, things become complicated when he realizes that he would be betraying the girl that he saved all those years ago.

Overall, I think that Greye did a great job of immersing us into this magical universe, and I am intrigued to see how her series continues to unfold.  

Thank you to M.L. Greye for providing an ebook of this story in exchange for an honest review. This had no bearing on the outcome of this review.

Rating: 4 stars

Find this book online: Amazon and Goodreads

Adult Fiction

Book Review: Finding Grace by K.L. Slater

Finding Grace

Author: K.L. Slater

Publication Date: 14 February 2019

Genre: Adult, Psychological Thriller

Pages: 253

Publisher: Bookouture

Synopsis:

This morning, my daughter sat right here, munching her breakfast, too excited to finish it. Now, she is missing. 

The day after her ninth birthday, Lucie and Blake Sullivan agree, for the very first time, to let their daughter, Grace, make the four-minute walk back home alone from a friend’s house just down the street. 

They joke with friends about hiding behind bushes to ensure she is safe. But the joke turns sour when Grace does not appear. 

Despite the best efforts of the police and local community, Grace seems to have vanished into thin air. With hope fading fast, Lucie knows she can rely on her husband to support her through such dark times. That is until the day she makes a shocking discovery, hidden in Blake’s desk, and suddenly she begins to doubt everything she knew about the man she married. 

But Lucie harbours a terrible secret of her own. One that she has never shared with anyone, even Blake … 

And as the search for Grace reaches fever pitch, Lucie receives a terrifying message. If she is ever to see Grace again, Lucie has no choice but to face the past she tried hard to bury forever. And she must do it alone. 

My Thoughts:

This was the first novel I read by K.L. Slater, and let’s just say, this will certainly not be the last! Within the first few pages, the readers are launched into an onslaught of heart-stopping chaos as Blake and Lucie Sullivan discover that their 9 year-old daughter Grace has disappeared on her 10 minute walk home from her best friend, Olivia’s house. With Grace without a trace, Blake and Lucie are confronted with questioning from the investigation team that makes them not only second guess themselves but each other’s motives as well.

The plot is chock full of twists and turns up until the very last page. As we start to peel back the layers of Blake and Lucie’s marriage so to speak, we discover that both of them are hiding colossal secrets from one another that could be the final straw to crumble their seemingly perfect marriage.

When I first started reading this story, I’ll be honest, I was not very attached to Lucie’s character because I thought at any moment she could break. The combination of her anxiety and depression is debilitating to the point that the slightest disturbances leave her bedridden. The story is told from mainly Lucie’s POV and progresses through a series of snippets from the present day where the investigation of Grace’s disappearance is taking place to the past, during Lucie’s college days, where we start to learn about the time that Lucie was a person that “she despised”. By the end, my heart was exploding for Lucie and her incredible strength.  

If you love psychological thrillers and books that will definitely have you clinging to the edge of your seat the entire time then READ this book! My heart was racing towards the end, and I thought that I might actually be having palpitations from all of the revelations along the way.

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for providing me an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence the outcome of my review.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Find this book online: Amazon and Goodreads

YA

Book Review: A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

I give her a nod and turn for the door. 
“Rhen,” she calls after me. 
I pause in the doorway and face her. 
“I’m not going to fall in love with you,” she says. Her words are not a surprise. 
I sigh. “You won’t be the first.”

A Curse So Dark and Lonely

Author: Brigid Kemmerer

Publication Date: 29 Jan 2019

Genre: YA

Pages: 489

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA

Synopsis:

Fall in love, break the curse.


It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

My Thoughts:

In all honesty, I am a cynic when it comes to retellings of the Beauty and the Beast because it is my all-time favorite fairytale. I was excited when I first heard about this book (because who doesn’t love the opportunity to relive the magic and beauty of that tale), but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I was also massively apprehensive. This book soared passed my outrageously high expectations because it was such a breathtakingly original work of literary magic that I daresay should not even be considered a retelling.

The opening chapters describe a scene where Harper witnesses a man (Grey) attempt to kidnap a girl in broad daylight in bustling Washington D.C. Even though Harper has cerebral palsy, which gives her a physical disadvantage, she still holds her own with a tire iron. While the girl is able to escape Grey’s attempted kidnapping, Harper is the next victim to be sent to Emberfall.

After reading those opening chapters, I instantly fell in love with Harper. First off, bravo for the inclusivity of characters with disabilities. Also, thank you for not making her disability a crutch or a source of pity. Harper is fiercely independent and will not allow anything, disability or not, to stand in her way of returning home to her dying mother and brother who must hustle to pay off their father’s gambling debts.

As the story continues, we are introduced to Grey, the Commander of the Royal Guard or at least he was before the creature killed everyone, and Rhen, the Crowned Prince of Emberfall who is cursed by the enchantress Lady Lillith to become a creature that preys on the kingdom once a season. Prince Rhen is convinced that the only way to break the curse is to fall in love.

Cue Harper. Harper does not buy the whole falling in love to break the curse spiel. She’s been kidnapped for god’s sake, so why on Earth would she fall in love with her kidnapper?! Instead, after she learns the state of destitute at which the citizens of Emberfall have fallen on, Harper takes it upon herself to help the people of Emberfall irrespective of their impending doom. She may not be able to help them all, but she will die trying!

As the story continues, the layers from the previous seasons of despair and defeat gradually peel away from both Prince Rhen and Grey. They accept that this is the final season of Lillith’s torment and regardless if the curse is broken or not, they will assist Harper in ensuring that their people are not forsaken.

Contrary to what I originally believed, this picturesque Beauty and the Beast adaptation was what I needed. The splendor of this story is that there is no love at first sight. Trust has already been completely shattered. Yet, you fall in love with the real moments that these characters have with one another. There’s something magical and enriching about stories that have relatable characters.  I cannot recommend this story enough. It will definitely be one that people will seamlessly integrate into their memories of the Beauty and the Beast.

Rating: 5 stars

Have you read A Curse So Dark and Lonely? Do you like fairytale retellings? Let’s discuss!

Middle Grade

Book Review: The Bone Garden by Heather Kassner (ARC)

I am done with you. I will cut the tether. I will burn your bones. You will be no more. – Miss Vesper

The Bone Garden

Author: Heather Kassner (Illustrated by Matt Saunders)

Publication Date: 06 Aug 2019

Genre: Middle Grade

Pages: 272

Publisher: Henry Holt

Synopsis:

“Remember, my dear, you do not really and truly exist.”

Irréelle fears she’s not quite real. Only the finest magical thread tethers her to life―and to Miss Vesper. But for all her efforts to please her cruel creator, the thread is unraveling. Irréelle is forgetful as she gathers bone dust. She is slow returning from the dark passages beneath the cemetery. Worst of all, she is unmindful of her crooked bones.

When Irréelle makes one final, unforgivable mistake by destroying a frightful creature just brought to life, Miss Vesper threatens to imagine her away once and for all. Defying her creator for the very first time, Irréelle flees to the underside of the graveyard and embarks on an adventure to unearth the mysterious magic that breathes bones to life, even if it means she will return to dust and be no more.

My Thoughts:

Do not be fooled by the middle grade genre, this beautifully dark story is chocked full of horror, despair, adventure, and hope.

The story begins with Irréelle raiding coffins to gather more bone dust for Miss Vesper. Miss Vesper is Irréelle’s creator, and she makes some of the vilest villains seem like a walk in the park. She is unbelievably cruel, constantly reminding Irréelle that she is not real and can be returned to the bone dust from which she came at a moment’s notice. My heart broke for poor Irréelle because all she ever wanted was to please Miss Vesper and be real. Cue the tears (Again, don’t let middle grade fool you! This book has all the feels!)

Irréelle disrupts Miss Vesper after she has created yet another horrifying monster, a hand that attacks Irréelle. Naturally, Irréelle tries to crush the hand (think Thing from the Adams Family), which sends Miss Vesper into a blind rage. Miss Vesper drags Irréelle to be burned back into bone dust, but Irréelle manages to escape.

After Irréelle’s escape, her adventurous life truly begins. She meets Guy and eventually Lass. She discovers that she is no longer alone even if she aches to feel truly human. At this point, I fell in love with watching Irréelle develop as a character. We watch her progress from being a victim of Stockholm Syndrome to putting her fears aside to protect her friends at all cost. Irréelle and her friends set out to uncover the dark truths of Miss Vesper in order to be truly free from this vile being. Along the way these three realize that even though they were little monsters created from bone dust and dark magic, humanity arises through the love that is forged through friendships.

Overall, this story was a fantastic read. You’ll be rooting for Irréelle as she escapes a life of pain and servitude to a life of love and belonging and ultimately, human.

Rating: 5 stars

Add this book to Goodreads

Adult Fiction

Book Review – The One Who’s Not the One by Keris Stainton (ARC)

All men leave eventually. Some of them even take your purse with them.

The One Who’s Not the One

Author: Keris Stainton

Publication Date: 26 Feb 2019

Genre: Adult Fiction – Romantic Comedy

Pages: 229

Publisher: Bookouture

Thank you NetGalley and Bookouture for providing me a free eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:


Cat’s life has hit a brick wall. Since she broke up with her ex Sam five years ago she’s quit stand-up comedy, landed in a steady but dull job, and lives in a tiny flat with roommates she knows only as The One Who Eats All My Food and The One Who Has Really Loud Sex. 

Cat, by contrast, is vividly aware that she hasn’t had sex for over two years

So when she bumps into old friend Harvey and sparks fly, Cat is surprised. The more time she spends with Harvey, the more their chemistry grows – but Cat knows she has to ignore her feelings. 

Because Harvey is Sam’s brother, and so absolutely, 100% off-limits romantically. If only Cat didn’t keep forgetting that…

My Thoughts:

Calling all romantic comedy fans! You NEED to read this book. This book was absolutely brilliant. It was hilarious, refreshing, addictive, and completely relatable. I read this book in a span of 24 hours. I just couldn’t put it down!

The book opens with Cat stopping at Starbucks to grab some breakfast and a coffee for her boss since she’s already running late for a job that she could care less about, so she might as well earn some brownie points. She sets her stuff down on a table that this gorgeous guy is sitting at while she readjusts herself. After a bit of flirtatious banter, he leaves…with Cat’s purse in tow. This scene perfectly sets the theme of this story: men in Cat’s life always leave.

Cat’s life has descended into a mundane routine. She has a flat share with Georgie, a sorry excuse of a roommate that has a complete disregard for anyone or anything that doesn’t concern her and her boyfriend. Her love life is non-existent. She has boring job as an accountant, which is nowhere near as thrilling as comedy was. Cat’s only friends are her best friend Kelly and her husband Sean. Kelly is a tough love kind of woman that refuses to put up with Cat’s wallowing and tells her what she needs to hear even when Cat tries to run away.   

Cat’s life is turned upside when she discovers that Sam has returned to London for a gig. She all but drags her best friend Kelly to the show after she finds out that his show is called ‘Cat Amongst the Pigeons’, which obviously has to be about her. Maybe she will finally get some answers as to why Sam left for Australia without asking her to come with. Following the show, Cat bumps into Harvey, Sam’s younger brother. Sparks fly, but Cat becomes fixated on the “dating a sibling’s ex” taboo. Yet, as Cat spends more time with Harvey (as friends, or so she tells herself), she is too scared to admit her feelings for him because everyone always leaves.

Cat’s character was definitely frustrating at times. Cat is so engrossed with the idea that everyone always leaves her, so she has accepted that her life is destined to be full of unhappiness in both her personal relationships and career. Despite Kelly’s constant tough love, Cat rarely stands up for herself since she is nonconfrontational and has a fear of abandonment. However, once Harvey re-enters Cat’s life, Cat is forced to question whether people actually left her or if she ran away out of fear.   

What made this an incredible read for me was how realistic/honest/relatable it was when it came to love and relationships. Most of the time, love is not this over the top fairy tale that it is painted to be.  People have baggage. People are not rational when it comes to love. Previous relationships with parents and/or exes can influence a person’s mindset for pursuing a new relationship. People can be too scared to speak up and/or shift the status quo of their everyday lives. Keris beautifully tackles all of these everyday issues while still making you laugh and think “Yeah, I’ve been there”.   

Rating: 5 stars

YA

Book Review: House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig (ARC)



House of Salt and Sorrows

Author: Erin A. Craig

Publication Date: 06 Aug 2019

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 416

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Thank you NetGalley and Delacorte Press for providing me a free eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

Get swept away in Erin A. Craig’s mesmerizing House of Salt and Sorrows. As one by one her beautiful sisters mysteriously die on their isolated island estate, Annaleigh must unravel the curse that haunts her family. Be careful who you dance with. . . .

In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last–the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge–and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who–or what–are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family–before it claims her next. House of Salt and Sorrows is a spellbinding novel filled with magic and the rustle of gossamer skirts down long, dark hallways. Get ready to be swept away.

My Thoughts:

This book transforms the fairytale of the twelve dancing princesses into a dark, sinister ghost story that makes you weary of falling asleep with the lights off.

 The story begins with Annaleigh Thaumus returning yet another family member, her fourth eldest sister Eulalie, to the Salt. Annaleigh has already lost her eldest three sisters and her mother as well. Eulalie’s body was discovered at the base of the cliff’s edge, and with everyone assuming that the Thaumus family is cursed, the majority of people assume that Eulalie committed suicide. Everyone except Annaleigh. Annaleigh’s young stepmother, Morella, the new Duchess of the Salaana islands decides, at the funeral, that she is done with mourning and uses it as a platform to announce that she is pregnant with a son.

Now at this point, I was asking myself how in the world did this woman know that she was pregnant with a son. She told Annaleigh that she was probably around 3 months pregnant, maybe more, so the gender of the baby should not be known at this point. Also, Morella decided to take a time of remembrance to focus on herself. I understand why the daughters were hesitant to like Morella because that was incredibly disrespectful behavior.

Following the funeral, Morella decided that Highmoor would no longer be in mourning, which was uncharacteristic for the people of the Salaan islands since the mourning period for the death of a relative was a minimum of one year. While Annaleigh was hesitant to oblige, her sisters were eager to go to balls and dance the night away. While the first ball to honor the triplet’s birthday was unsuccessful, the girls discover Pontus’ magical door, which allows them to travel to distance kingdoms where no one has heard of the Thaumus curse.

I enjoyed watching the development of Annaleigh’s character because I saw her as the voice of reason. Annaleigh was the first to accept Morella as a friend and give her a chance when her sisters viewed her as a gold digger. Annaleigh also was able to connect with Verity, her youngest sister, in a way that the other sisters could not since they presumed her to be filled with childish notions. Verity confides in Annaleigh that she sees her dead sisters after Annaleigh discovers her journal is covered in drawings of their rotting corpses.

Without giving away the plot, this story was an absolute page turner for me. Erin weaves this magical tale that is horrifying, heartbreaking, but most importantly, hopeful. The nuances in which she develops the characters made me fall in love with them; making it even more heartbreaking as the terror continued to unfold. Erin did warn us to be careful who you dance with, but were you paying attention?

Rating: 5 stars

Adult Fiction

Book Review: They Called Me Wyatt by Natasha Tynes (ARC)

Dying was not the worst part. It was was what came after dying.

They Called Me Wyatt

Author: Natasha Tynes

Publication Date: 11 June 2019

Genre: Adult, Mystery/Thriller – has sci-fi elements

Pages: 280

Publisher: Rare Bird Books

Thank you to Natasha Tynes for providing a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

When Jordanian student Siwar Salaiha is murdered on her birthday in College Park, Maryland, her consciousness survives, finding refuge in the body of a Seattle baby boy. Stuck in this speech delayed three-year old body, Siwar tries but fails to communicate with Wyatt’s parents, instead she focuses on solving the mystery behind her murder. Eventually, her consciousness goes into a dormant state after Wyatt undergoes a major medical procedure.

Fast-forward twenty-two years. Wyatt is a well-adjusted young man with an affinity towards the Middle East and a fear of heights. While working on his graduate degree in Middle Eastern studies, Wyatt learns about Siwar’s death, which occurred twenty-five years ago. For reasons he can’t explain, he grows obsessed with Siwar and spends months investigating her death, which police at the time erroneously ruled as suicide. His investigation forces him to open a door he has kept shut all his life, a spiritual connection to an unknown entity that he frequently refused to acknowledge. His leads take him to Amman, Jordan where after talking to her friends and family members and through his special connection with the deceased, he discovers a clue that unravels the mystery of her death. Will Siwar get justice after all?

My Thoughts:

This novel is broken into two parts. The first part of the story mainly focuses on Siwar’s narrative. Siwar plunged to her death on her 25th birthday after being pushed off a building. Unfortunately for her, her consciousness survives but relocates itself into a speech delayed three-year-old boy named Wyatt. Siwar still has the thought processes of a 25-year-old woman but are ultimately useless in a toddler’s body that is uncapable of responding in the manner she wants. I definitely found it entertaining to watch a 25-year-old Siwar get so utterly frustrated trying to communicate with Wyatt’s parents Krista and Noah. If my life went from independence and pursuing my dream career to watching one hour of either Sesame Street or Barney every day, I’d be fussing and cussing just as much as Siwar.

I think Natasha did a wonderful job with the progression of the flashbacks that start to piece together Siwar’s story starting from her preteen years in Jordan. Siwar was always fiercely independent and set on pushing back against the archaic and conservative expectations of females in Jordanian society. As we see more of Siwar’s background, I felt myself empathasizing with her story. I could not blame her for wanting to get away from so many rules that dictated her existence just because she was a female.

However, as the plot continues during part one, we start to get glimpses of just how manipulative Siwar is. When she tries to communicate to Wyatt’s parents, Krista and Noah, and she doesn’t get the response she wants, she has full blown temper tantrums. Since she’s an adult trapped inside of a child with a mission to find out how she was murdered, she doesn’t particularly care if she hurts their feelings. While I understood her frustration, you could see that Wyatt’s behavioral issues were also tearing apart Krista and Noah’s already fragile marriage.

Book one ends with Wyatt going in for a procedure to correct his urinary tract, so he is sedated for the operation, which means both Siwar and Wyatt are silenced. Turn the page to book two, and now we have a 25-year-old Wyatt and wondering if Siwar is alive or dead (well passed on would probably be more appropriate since she technically is dead).

Surprise – Siwar is still with Wyatt, but now she’s no longer in control of Wyatt’s consciousness. She’s the dull whispers in the background that only become vivid when Wyatt is either inebriated or under the influence of Valium. Because Siwar can still peer into Wyatt’s consciousness, he has become obsessed with solving her cold case but has no clue why this need is consuming him.

Book two was a bit slower for me. I plowed through book one because I was fascinating in learning Siwar’s story through her own memories that are implanted in Wyatt. I also have a strong preference for Siwar’s narrative over Wyatt’s because I found her independent attitude refreshing while not being obtrusive. During book two, I grew more and more frustrated with Wyatt repeatedly wasting away in a drunken or medicinal stupor just so we could get back to Siwar and her truth. In hindsight, I realize that like Siwar, I didn’t necessarily care about Wyatt and the consequences associated with seeking justice for Siwar because the plot wasn’t about Wyatt. Right? Or was it?

Overall, the is a great debut novel from Natasha Tynes. She does a wonderful job of assessing America from an outsider’s perspective while also giving a glimpse into Jordanian society, which most Americans probably are not privy to. The plot has a great pace. There are definitely interesting twists and turns as we learn more about the relationships that Siwar had as well as the man Wyatt has grown to become. The ending definitely took me by surprise.

Rating: 4 stars