Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead {Review}

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead {Review}Title: Vampire Academy
Author: Richelle Mead
Series: Vampire Academy #1
Publisher: Razorbill on August 16, 2007
Format: Paperback, 332 pages
Source: Gift
4 Stars
The sum up

Snarky, sexy and fun. A promising start to the series.
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Salt by Danielle Ellison {Review}

Salt by Danielle Ellison {Review}Title: Salt
Author: Danielle Ellison
Publisher: Entangled Teen on January 7th 2014
Format: eBook, 266 pages pages
Source: Rockstar Book Tours
3 Stars

The sum up

A solid fast paced book that’s perfect if you want fun witchiness, or need a break from the heavier stuff.

Summary

Penelope is a witch, part of a secret society protecting humans from demon attacks. But when she was a child, a demon killed her parents—and stole her magic. Since then, she’s been pretending to be something she’s not, using her sister’s magic to hide her own loss, to prevent being sent away.

When she’s finally given the chance to join the elite demon-hunting force, Penelope thinks that will finally change. With her sister’s help, she can squeeze through the tests and get access to the information she needs to find “her” demon. To take back what was stolen.

Then she meets Carter. He’s cute, smart, and she can borrow his magic, too. He knows her secret—but he also has one of his own.

Suddenly, Penelope’s impossible quest becomes far more complicated. Because Carter’s not telling her everything, and it’s starting to seem like the demons have their own agenda…and they’re far too interested in her.

My thoughts

Penelope is a witch without her own power. Stolen from her when she was young, she still can do magic, but only when her family is nearby to “lend” her their power. All she’s ever wanted is to find the demon who took her magic, perform a ritual and get it back. She’s been training for years to become an Enforcer, mainly so she can use their extensive research library to find the demon. One day when she’s trapped by a demon, Carter shows up and suddenly she can do magic. How is that possible? And how is she going to pass the Enforcer test without her magic?

Penelope was quite a strong character. She’d lost both her parents and her magic, yet she still managed to be positive, kind and even cheerful. She was respectful of her grandparents, which I loved. She knew what she wanted, and she wasn’t about to let anything stand in her way. Even after Carter entered the picture, she was aware of his effect on both her and the future she had planned for herself. She had a snarkiness about her which I appreciated.

Carter was an enigma – we never quite knew what his motivations were. He seemed like a nice enough guy, but he definitely had secrets. Penelope was more willing to look past those than I would have been. Her sister and grandparents were great, always there for her when she needed help.

There was no sex, but there was chemistry, and some snogging. I kind of wondered whether Carter would turn out to be related to Penelope, because, after all, she could only do magic with her family nearby. But unless the next book in the series takes an alarming turn, that doesn’t seem to be an issue.

I enjoyed the world-building in the story. There’s another world alongside ours that has witches and demons. There are demons of every shape and color, and they can take human form as well, though that usually ends up killing the human. The Enforcers are like the special services of witches. They are paired into teams of two and their job is to hunt all the demons out there.

There were a few grammatical errors and one or two things that bothered me. One of the biggest ones was Penelope’s insistence on becoming an Enforcer. She had to pass 2 major magic tests to become one, but she just kind of glossed over the fact that she didn’t have magic. She was planning on having her sister around for the first test, but the second test didn’t seem to make her all that anxious, which I found odd. For someone so conscientious, she didn’t seem to have a plan in place for that.

Those little issues weren’t enough to make me not want to keep reading and overall, I enjoyed the book and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

About the author

Danielle Ellison is from a small town in West Virginia. She spent her childhood pretending to fly, talking to imaginary friends, and telling stories. She hasn’t changed much since then. You can still find her pretending to work, talking to imaginary characters, and writing stories.

When she’s not writing, Danielle is probably drinking coffee, fighting her nomadic urges, watching too much TV, or dreaming of the day when she can be British. She is the author of five upcoming novels.

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Unhinged by A.G. Howard {Review}

Unhinged by A.G. Howard {Review}Title: Unhinged
Author: A.G. Howard
Series: Splintered #2
Publisher: Amulet on January 7th 2014
Format: Paperback, 387 pages
Source: Traveling ARC
4 Stars
The sum up

This is a solid follow-up to Splintered. I really enjoyed it, and it left me eager for the next book in the series.

Summary

Alyssa Gardner has been down the rabbit hole and faced the bandersnatch. She saved the life of Jeb, the guy she loves, and escaped the machinations of the disturbingly seductive Morpheus and the vindictive Queen Red. Now all she has to do is graduate high school and make it through prom so she can attend the prestigious art school in London she’s always dreamed of.

That would be easier without her mother, freshly released from an asylum, acting overly protective and suspicious. And it would be much simpler if the mysterious Morpheus didn’t show up for school one day to tempt her with another dangerous quest in the dark, challenging Wonderland—where she (partly) belongs.

As prom and graduation creep closer, Alyssa juggles Morpheus’s unsettling presence in her real world with trying to tell Jeb the truth about a past he’s forgotten. Glimpses of Wonderland start to bleed through her art and into her world in very disturbing ways, and Morpheus warns that Queen Red won’t be far behind.

If Alyssa stays in the human realm, she could endanger Jeb, her parents, and everyone she loves. But if she steps through the rabbit hole again, she’ll face a deadly battle that could cost more than just her head.

My thoughts

Alyssa is glad to be back to her normal life. Her mom is home from the asylum, and even though she’s gone overboard on the mothering thing, Alyssa’s still glad to have her back. She and Jeb are getting along great, and he’s forgotten all about Wonderland and everything that happened there. When Morpheus starts appearing, telling Alyssa she must come back to Wonderland and defeat Queen Red once and for all, it’s annoying at first. But then he gets more insistent, and signs of Queen Red start appearing in the human world.

I liked the growth that Alyssa showed from the previous book, with her mother, Jeb and even Morpheus. She has become stronger and more secure in herself, and what she wants. Jeb was just your average nice guy, but he was ignorant of Wonderland, so it’s hard to hold that against him. He did the best he could with Alyssa, without knowing her whole story. Luckily he had the chance to flex his personality quite a bit in the second half of the story, and I liked seeing that new aspect in him. Morpheus again appeared selfish, but you could see how he really cared for his world. He didn’t want anything to happen to it, or the creatures in it.

There was more romance in this book than the previous one. I struggled to find the chemistry between Jeb and Alyssa, though there was one particular scene near the end that was so fantastic, I might even suggest you read the book just for it. I’ve never been a fan of Morpheus as a romantic interest for Alyssa, but we learned more about him in the book, and some of the reasons behind his motivations. And if you’re a fan of the love triangle, you’ll be pleased with this one.

Howard continues with her gift of making even the craziest scene or setting so realistic, they’re easy to picture. The blood artwork, the spider-like Queen Red, the bony Rabid White, the talking flowers, all of it is rendered so descriptively, it’s amazing. The scary scenes are very scary, and I may have even gasped a time or two.

About the author


A.G. Howard was inspired to write SPLINTERED while working at a school library. Her pastimes are reading, rollerblading, gardening, and family vacations which often include impromptu side trips to 18th century graveyards or condemned schoolhouses to appease her overactive muse.

Her debut YA fantasy, SPLINTERED, a dark Alice in Wonderland spinoff, is now available from Amulet Books. The sequel, UNHINGED, is due to launch January 2014.

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Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn {Review}

Title: Another Little Piece
Author: Kate Karyus Quinn
Publisher: HarperTeen on June 11th, 2013
Format: eARC, 419 pages
Source: Publisher


Summary

The spine-tingling horror of Stephen King meets an eerie mystery worthy of Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars series in Kate Karyus Quinn’s haunting debut.

On a cool autumn night, Annaliese Rose Gordon stumbled out of the woods and into a high school party. She was screaming. Drenched in blood. Then she vanished.

A year later, Annaliese is found wandering down a road hundreds of miles away. She doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t know how she got there. She only knows one thing: She is not the real Annaliese Rose Gordon.

Now Annaliese is haunted by strange visions and broken memories. Memories of a reckless, desperate wish . . . a bloody razor . . . and the faces of other girls who disappeared. Piece by piece, Annaliese’s fractured memories come together to reveal a violent, endless cycle that she will never escape—unless she can unlock the twisted secrets of her past.

My thoughts

Annaliese was recently found after having disappeared over a year ago. She can’t remember anything from her past, including the year she was gone. She doesn’t recognize anyone from school, her house, or even her parents. And though everyone insists she’s Anneliese, she’s positive she isn’t. When she starts remembering things that have happened to other girls, she knows something’s wrong. And she doesn’t know why, but she can feel a deadline approaching fast. Now she needs to find out what happens when it arrives.

I want to be one of those people who appreciates this novel for its quirkiness and unexpected twists and turns, for it’s simple prose and elegant story telling, but I am not going to be one of them. It is quirky and has a ton of twists and turns, and it does have simple and elegant prose, but in the end, all I can think is: This story is flipping weird.

As the reader, we knew nothing of Anneliese other than what she was told. We experienced the memories and confusion just as she did, which allowed us to really appreciate how scary and disorienting it was to not know anything about yourself. She seemed very detached, which was totally understandable, but it also made it hard to like her. I felt so sorry for her parents, who were torn between wanting to never let her out of their sight and allowing her to go at her own pace.

The boy who seemed to know more about Annaliese than she did was creepy, as hem was supposed to be. And the boy who was kind-of-dating Annaliese was someone I just felt sorry for, more and more as the story progressed. And that’s all I can tell you about the characters without spoiling anything.

But really, even if I wanted to spoil you, I don’t think I could. Because, to be entirely honest, I’m not really sure what the hell was going on about 80% of the time. There were a ton of flashbacks and none of them had any context or explanation. The book isn’t described as science fiction, but that’s a huge element in it, but even that isn’t described completely. Seriously, this was me during most of the book:

I was left with an unclear story and too many questions, and I don’t enjoy that in a book.

The sum up

While I thought Another Little Piece was okay, it just wasn’t my thing. I’m not sure I would read anything else from this author.

About the author

Kate Karyus QuinnKate Karyus Quinn is an avid reader and menthol chapstick addict. She has lived in California and Tennessee, but recently made the move back to her hometown of Buffalo, New York, with her husband and two children in tow. She promised them wonderful people, amazing food, and weather that would… build character. Another Little Piece is her first novel.

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Some Quiet Place by Kelsey Sutton {Review}

Title: Some Quiet Place
Author: Kelsey Sutton
Series: Some Quiet Place #1
Publisher: Flux on July 8th 2013
Format: eARC, 350 pages
Source: Publisher
4 Stars
Summary

Elizabeth Caldwell doesn’t feel emotions . . . she sees them. Longing, Shame, and Courage materialize around her classmates. Fury and Resentment appear in her dysfunctional home. They’ve all given up on Elizabeth because she doesn’t succumb to their touch. All, that is, save one—Fear. He’s intrigued by her, as desperate to understand the accident that changed Elizabeth’s life as she is herself.

Elizabeth and Fear both sense that the key to her past is hidden in the dream paintings she hides in the family barn. But a shadowy menace has begun to stalk her, and try as she might, Elizabeth can barely avoid the brutality of her life long enough to uncover the truth about herself. When it matters most, will she be able to rely on Fear to save her?

My thoughts

For as long as Elizabeth can remember, she’s not been able to feel emotions. She doesn’t get shy, embarrassed, happy or sad. She tries hard to act normal, because her home is the only place she knows and she doesn’t want to start over somewhere else. Not only can her classmates tell she’s different, but even her parents are freaked out by her. Her mother barely looks at her, and her father avoids her. Unless he’s drunk. All she wants to do is finish school and not cause any waves.

This was a very unique story, and had a lot of elements I’ve never seen before. It was pretty long, and I picked out several parts that could have been cut without effecting the story. It dragged a bit, especially in the middle. But the final third picked up and I really liked the snappy pace through the end.

It was hard to like Elizabeth as a character since she didn’t have a personality. She had opinions and actions, but no cares or desires. It was easy to feel sorry for her, though. Not only did she want to be normal, but her home situation was a mess. It would have been nice if she’d had a friend to talk to, to tell what was going on at home. But she didn’t have anyone constant in her life except Fear, whom I loved. At first, I thought he was only interested in Elizabeth because she was an enigma – she never felt afraid, even when he brought out the big guns. But he started to show some actual depth and I saw a bit of warmth and caring peeking though.

There was a lot of mystery in the story. Not only the whole “Why can’t Elizabeth feel anything,” but also how did she end up that way? Was it the accident? Why does her mother avoid her? Has her father always treated her so badly? Why doesn’t anyone else in the family have the same problem? Why is Fear so obsessed with finding out why she isn’t affected by the Emotions? Who are the people in her paintings?

The romance was subtle, but it was definitely there. You might even say the book had a touch of swoon. And those who dislike love triangles can rejoice, as there wasn’t one here, though it started off looking like there might be.

Kelsey Sutton has a gift, and I was surprised to learn this was her debut novel. She writes like someone with many books under her belt. She creates a world just like ours, with a slight difference (the visible Emotions), and manages to make it real. The writing is evocative and dynamic.

Originally published as a standalone, a sequel has been announced, but I’m not sure if that’s the right way to go. I really enjoyed this book, and you might think that means I’d automatically welcome another in the series, but you’d be wrong. I’ll probably read it, but unless it’s fantastic, I’ll most likely say it would have worked better as a standalone novel as opposed to a series.

The sum up

Different and unique, I enjoyed this romantic take on emotions. 

About the author


Kelsey Sutton has done everything from training dogs, making cheeseburgers, selling yellow page ads, and cleaning hotel rooms. Now she divides her time between her college classes and her writing, though she can also sometimes be found pounding out horrible renditions of Beethoven on the piano and trying bizarre drinks at her local coffee shop. Kelsey lives in northern Minnesota with her dog and cat, Lewis and Clark.

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Review: Levitating Las Vegas by Jennifer Echols

Title: Levitating Las Vegas
Author: Jennifer Echols
Publisher: May 7th, 3013 by Pocket Star
Format: ebook, 300 pages
Source: Publisher, in exchange for an honest review

Summary

Nothing up her sleeves…or so she’s been led to believe.

Showgirl Holly Starr is sick and tired of assisting her dad, a celebrity magician, in his Las Vegas casino magic show. As soon as he keeps his promise to her and shares the secrets to his tricks, she can break out on her own. But can she really make it? For years Holly has taken medication to stave off crazy hallucinations that she can levitate objects. Just when she thinks she’s ready to make a career and a life for herself, her medicine—and her luck—run out.

Elijah Brown suffers from a similar delusion—that he can read minds—and he’s out of medicine too. Determined to save himself and his old flame Holly, he kidnaps her and takes her straight to the source, a town high in the Rockies where their medicine is made. What they discover there leads them to suspect their powers are not imaginary after all…and neither is the intense attraction they feel for each other.

They make a pact to stick together as they return to Vegas to confront the people who kept them in the dark so long. But soon they’re pitting their powers against each other in a dangerous world where the nightlife is seductive, domination is addictive, the sex is beyond belief…and falling in love is murder.

My thoughts

Elijah asks Holly out on a date during their sophomore year of high school. When her parents find out, they force Holly to break the date and give her a flimsy excuse. While stewing in her anger, she discovers she can levitate objects (including herself) with her mind. Her parents walk in on the levitating and suddenly she’s in a doctor’s office being told she has a terrible disease that gives her delusions. To stave off the symptoms, she must take medication for the rest of her life. Elijah discovers that very that night that he has the same disease, and must take medication to prevent his delusions of being a mind reader. Seven years later, when the pharmacy runs out of the medicine, Elijah becomes so desperate for more that he kidnaps Holly and drives all night to the source. Once there, they figure out that they don’t actually have a disease, they have real powers.

Holly was an interesting character, a bit unusual in the new adult genre. She was a showgirl, and perfectly comfortable parading on stage in a spangled bikini. She was smart and determined and (gasp!) a virgin. (Why is that always supposed to be such a shocker?) She had a nice relationship with her parents, they were a tight family who spent a lot of time together. Elijah was close to his mother, with no father in the picture. Considering they lived in Vegas and worked in a casino, they were pretty average kids.

Their parents, however, were awful people. They knew their children had these powers, and instead of teaching them how to be responsible with them, they scared them into thinking they had a horrible scary disease, then drugged them. In fact, a lot of the adults were real asshats. The old “We’re doing it to protect the kids” excuse didn’t cut it.

There were a lot of little bits that bothered me. Like how Elijah and Holly just accepted their diagnoses with no question. I don’t know about you, but when I get the tiniest little symptom, I’m on WebMD checking to make sure I don’t have the bubonic plague. But they never did the first Google search. Even 7 years later, they still took those pills without question. Speaking of their pills – the name of the miracle drug was Mentafixol. As in “Mental Fix All.” How cheesy is that? Also (highlight the text to view the spoiler), Holly and Elijah were practically in love, then within a few short minutes, they were threatening real violence to each other. Holly’s best friend betrayed her and she was okay with that? And not to be too picky, but “the sex is beyond belief” is quite the exaggeration. There’s 1 sex scene total, and it’s not all that spectacular. There was definite chemistry, but nothing I would consider super sexy.

And this was probably the thing that bugged me the most – Holly spent at least 3 quarters of the book in her showgirl outfit – a sparkly sequined bikini and heels. That’s all. She walked around Vegas in it, rode a mass transit bus in it, slept in it overnight, then continued to wear it while walking around another town. Never once did she suggest stopping at a WalMart to pick up some shorts, or that she might be uncomfortable or underdressed. That just smacked of improbability.

There were also a few unanswered questions (I really dislike those). For example, one scene clearly described how someone used their keys to open a slot machine specifically to touch the metal inside while exerting their powers. But why they had to that was never explained. I can only assume that the metal helped to conduct powers…?

That was a lot of nitpicking, so let me mention some of the things that I liked about the book. It was very zippy and the plot sped along, so I was never bored. The writing was very descriptive and I enjoyed the dialogue. I loved how strong Holly was, she was confident and friendly. The chemistry between her and Elijah was great, lots of sexual tension and longing looks.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to overcome my issues with the book. Near the end, in the middle of the climactic final scenes, I literally found myself thinking “I really should care about what’s happening.” But I didn’t. I honestly didn’t care how the book ended, but by then there was less than a chapter left, so I figured I’d just finish it.

The sum up

I just couldn’t get into the book. I didn’t connect with any of the characters and had only a mild interest in what happened to them. On the plus side, it was a quick and entertaining read.

About the author

Jennifer Echols
Jennifer Echols was born in Atlanta and grew up in a small town on a beautiful lake in Alabama—a setting that has inspired many of her books. She has written nine romantic novels for young adults, including the comedy MAJOR CRUSH, which won the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the drama GOING TOO FAR, which was a finalist in the RITA, the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the Book Buyer’s Best, and was nominated by the American Library Association as a Best Book for Young Adults. Simon & Schuster will debut her adult romance novels in 2013, with many more teen novels scheduled for the next few years. She lives in Birmingham with her husband and her son.

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Review: Emblaze by Jessica Shirvington

Title: Emblaze
Author: Jessica Shirvington
Publisher: March 5th 2013 by Sourcebooks Fire
Format: Hardcover, 464 pages
Source: Publisher
Series: Embrace | Entice | Emblaze | Endless
4 owls

Summary

Once again Violet Eden faces an impossible choice … and the consequences are unimaginable.

Violet has come to terms with the fact that being part angel, part human, means her life will never be as it was.

Now Violet has something Phoenix – the exiled angel who betrayed her – will do anything for, and she has no intention of letting it fall into his hands. The only problem is that he has something she needs too.

Not afraid to raise the stakes, Phoenix seemingly holds all the power, always one step ahead. And when he puts the final pieces of the prophecy together, it doesn’t take him long to realise exactly who he needs in order to open the gates of Hell.

With the help of surprising new allies, ancient prophecies are deciphered, a destination set and, after a shattering confrontation with her father, Violet leaves for the islands of Greece without knowing if she will have a home to return to…

My thoughts

Violet is trying to live her every day as normal as possible, all while wearing a glamoured (so nobody can see it) weapon, holding after school fight training and hunting down exiles at night. And now, thanks to his new girlfriend’s influence, Violet’s father is showing a sudden interest in her life. When Violet and her family of Grigori are dishonest in their plan to swap the Grigori Scriptures with the Exile Scriptures with Phoenix, he kidnaps her best friend Stephanie. Now they have to swap the Scriptures for Steph’s life.

I loved this book! There was so much action, but it didn’t take the place of character development; there was plenty of that as well. Violet started to finally get a grasp on her strength and powers. She matured quite a bit and didn’t go running off half-cocked. Her father actually started to act like a father, and you could almost see the moment where he realized how much he’d screwed everything up by not being around. We got to see things Phoenix’s point of view, and they really helped shape his persona. We know why he acted the way he did in the earlier books. It certainly made me like him a bit better. And Lincoln… wonderful Lincoln. Finally, we know how he truly felt about Violet. It was a long time coming, but worth the wait.

The action was almost non-stop. Between the night time exile hunting, fighting Phoenix and the island battles, it seemed like there was lot more fighting than usual. There was also a lot more emotion in this book than in the previous ones. The characters were finally being more upfront about their feelings, though sometimes Violet’s need for Lincoln became almost comical in its strength. Luckily, there was an actual reason for that, it wasn’t just to make things more dramatic.

There was a bit of “I’m secretly planning something stupid instead of talking to someone about our options.” which really drives me nuts. Communicate, people! The scenery was wonderful, I could picture the Greek Islands as Violet did, especially the volcano and lighthouse. There is a cliffhanger, but it’s not unsatisfactory. It’s more of a surprise than a true cliffhanger.

The sum up

Another home run in the Violet Eden series. I can’t wait for the next one!

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Review: The Goddess Inheritance by Aimee Carter

Title: The Goddess Inheritance
Author: Aimee Carter
Publisher: February 26th 2013 by Harlequin Teen
Format: Paperback, 384 pages
Source: NetGalley
Series: The Goddess Test | The Goddess Hunt (1.5) | Goddess Interrupted | The Goddess Legacy (2.5) | Goddess Inheritance
4 owls

Summary

Love or life.
Henry or their child.
The end of her family or the end of the world.
Kate must choose.

During nine months of captivity, Kate Winters has survived a jealous goddess, a vengeful Titan and a pregnancy she never asked for. Now the Queen of the Gods wants her unborn child, and Kate can’t stop her–until Cronus offers a deal.

In exchange for her loyalty and devotion, the King of the Titans will spare humanity and let Kate keep her child. Yet even if Kate agrees, he’ll destroy Henry, her mother and the rest of the council. And if she refuses, Cronus will tear the world apart until every last god and mortal is dead.

With the fate of everyone she loves resting on her shoulders, Kate must do the impossible: find a way to defeat the most powerful being in existence, even if it costs her everything.

Even if it costs her eternity.

My thoughts (Spoilers!)

Goddess Inheritance takes place 9 months after the conclusion of Goddess Interrupted. Kate is being held captive by Cronus and Calliope. Calliope wants to keep Kate’s baby as her own and Cronus just wants to jump her bones. Though she tries once or twice to escape, she finally gives up and sits back to await rescue. When she realizes it’s not coming, she must decide whether to make a deal with Cronus or try again to save herself and the baby.

This was a very fast-paced and full novel. There were little fights throughout and the big climactic battle at the end, though the constant fighting started to drag the story down for me a little. There were also a lot of reveals (Kate’s dad’s identity, Ava’s role in the story, the extent of Cronus’s evilness, etc.), and it was great to finally have resolution to some lingering questions.

A big thing that I liked was how most of the characters were more fully realized. They became much more complete and it was nice to learn more about them. Kate, especially, grew up a lot in this book. She had her whiny moments, of course, but she seemed to have found her voice and her strength here.

One thing that continued to annoy me in this (and any other) series was Kate and Henry’s lack of communication. They were both ready to die for their family (nothing wrong with that), but if one of them had said to the other “Here’s what I’m thinking…”, the story might have been completely different. On the other hand, Henry was much more able to express his feelings to Kate, which was a nice change from the previous books.

The Goddess Inheritance was similar in style and writing to the previous books in the series, so if you liked them, you will like this one as well. I really enjoyed this series and am sad to see the end of it.

The sum up

Though I’m sad for the series to end, this was a satisfying conclusion.

 

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