EMERALD BLAZE by Ilona Andrews – double review!

As Prime magic users, Catalina Baylor and her sisters have extraordinary powers—powers their ruthless grandmother would love to control. Catalina can earn her family some protection working as deputy to the Warden of Texas, overseeing breaches of magic law in the state, but that has risks as well. When House Baylor is under attack and monsters haunt her every step, Catalina is forced to rely on handsome, dangerous Alessandro Sagredo, the Prime who crushed her heart. 

The nightmare that Alessandro has fought since childhood has come roaring back to life, but now Catalina is under threat. Not even his lifelong quest for revenge will stop him from keeping her safe, even if every battle could be his last. Because Catalina won’t rest until she stops the use of the illicit, power-granting serum that’s tearing their world apart.  


Title : Emerald Blaze
Author : Ilona Andrews
Series : Hidden Legancy (book five)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 399
Genre : urban fantasy/paranormal romance
Publisher : Avon
Release Date : August 25, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis/Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

I’ll be honest. Give me some Baylor family banter and hijinks and I’ll pretty much be happy no matter what angst or torture this duo puts me through. Which is pretty much what happened in EMERALD BLAZE. Though it was light on both angst and torture so even better?

He broke your heart.
I broke my own heart, Leon. He was just the hammer I hit it with.

While I found the mystery of the Big Bad plot to be fine (not quite interesting, but not boring), I found the Big Bad Monster element of said same plot to be.. weird and whacky and freaky and fantastic fun. You might disagree about the fun part if you’ve read this but I just found it fascinating where this author duo’s brain goes (yes, I made a brain joke, I am not sorry!).

Your ego would survive an apocalypse.”
Thank you.”
It wasn’t a compliment.
It was to me.

For me, the star of this show, beyond the aforementioned Baylor Banter (copyright pending), was some of the insight we got into decisions made in the previous books. I’ll admit I couldn’t quite tell what was new information and what was just expanded upon which tells me I definitely should’ve done a series reread before this book (whoops, my bad), but nonetheless it felt mostly new and very shocking. I felt like every time the Evil Grandmother was mentioned I could never remember exactly what, or who, she had twisted to her own purposes and now? Wow. Cards are all out on the table.

I wasn’t mourning Alessandro abandoning me. I was mourning the old me. For the new me to emerge, the old me had to disappear, and killing her bit by bit hurt.

So that was fantastic but so was the romance. I enjoyed the heck out of this dynamic in book four but I was so much more sold this time around. Because more cards are on the table for these two as well, yes, but I also felt they had grown as individuals, particularly Catalina. I find her such a great protagonist because she’s strong but not invulnerable, either physically or emotionally, and she perseveres because she must. And as for Alessandro.. like.. be ready for some heartbreak.

I do so love happy endings.
Happy ending for you, maybe. I didn’t get to shoot anybody.

As a bonus we also get some page time with Nevada and Rogan so truly this book is a gift that keeps on giving. Less lovely? That ending. I had seen some vague shrieking about it on the internetz before reading this book so I was expecting the worst and I mean.. it’s not good but wow my brain is clearly a dark place because I expected something else. Also, for those of you unaware, this was also released by the authors but only to be read after reading book five. Don’t you dare peek ahead of time! Not only do I feel a little more comforted about said ending now but also I totally want an Arabella-centic book. I’m sure it’s coming. Maybe? Who knows. At the end of the day I just want IA to never stop writing; and I don’t care what series it’s for. Is that too much to ask?


Micky’s 4 star review

No quotes from me on this one, guess which dumb reader sent the library book back before writing their review? Yep, me. EMERALD BLAZE had a bit of a flat-ish start for me, I wasn’t immediately pulled in but by 20% that changed. This instalment of the Hidden Legacy was the usual fast-paced story you’d expect, full of drama, magic, fighting and tension. The evil thing in this one was super creepy animated thing and gave me slight vibes of one of the Kate Daniels instalment but it was still unique enough to hold its own.

I wasn’t sure about that cover, the emerald aspect but in retrospect, it all makes sense. I love the building storyline of House Baylor that stretches over the whole series and seeing Catalina come into her own even more is story-goals. I really enjoyed some honest dialogue between Nevada and Catalina, it felt like they were finally on an equal footing and to be honest, I’ve missed Nevada. The snippets of her and Rogan were like candy treats.

The best thing about this book was the tension between Catalina and Alessandro, ‘coupled’ with Alessandro finally exposing himself honestly. I lived for how their story played out. This story gave me everything I needed and wanted with regards to Catalina and Alessandro and I’m currently a pile of contemplative mush on finishing.

Family was strong as ever for the Baylors and I love the characters, how they knit together, banter and support one another. Did Andrews finish this cruelly? I guess you’ll have to read and find out.

*side note – will there ever be a book of theirs I don’t like?*

THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING by Erika Johansen

Young Kelsea Raleigh was raised in hiding after the death of her mother, Queen Elyssa, far from the intrigues of the royal Keep and in the care of two devoted servants who pledged their lives to protect her. Growing up in a cottage deep in the woods, Kelsea knows little of her kingdom’s haunted past . . . or that its fate will soon rest in her hands.

Long ago, Kelsea’s forefathers sailed away from a decaying world to establish a new land free of modern technology. Three hundred years later, this feudal society has divided into three fearful nations who pay duties to a fourth: the powerful Mortmesne, ruled by the cunning Red Queen. Now, on Kelsea’s nineteenth birthday, the tattered remnants of the Queen’s Guard—loyal soldiers who protect the throne—have appeared to escort the princess on a perilous journey to the capital to ascend to her rightful place as the new Queen of the Tearling.

Though born of royal blood and in possession of the Tear sapphire, a jewel of immense power and magic, Kelsea has never felt more uncertain of her ability to rule. But the shocking evil she discovers in the heart of her realm will precipitate an act of immense daring, throwing the entire kingdom into turmoil—and unleashing the Red Queen’s vengeance. A cabal of enemies with an array of deadly weapons, from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic, plots to destroy her. But Kelsea is growing in strength and stealth, her steely resolve earning her loyal allies, including the Queen’s Guard, led by the enigmatic Lazarus, and the intriguing outlaw known simply as “the Fetch.”

Kelsea’s quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun. Riddled with mysteries, betrayals, and treacherous battles, Kelsea’s journey is a trial by fire that will either forge a legend . . . or destroy her.


Title : The Queen of the Tearling
Author : Erika Johansen
Series : The Queen of the Tearling (book one)
Format : physical
Page Count : 426
Genre : fantasy/dystopian
Publisher : Harper
Release Date : July 8, 2014

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

The Queen of the Tearling series is one of a few series I own in physical form that I have not finished. Shame. Most of these fall into the “read all but book three” category but this series is worse than that. Shame shame. I had preordered both books two and three.. and never read either. Shame shame shame! You would think that as of starting the WFH life, which for me began months ago, it would’ve been the ideal time to start churning through said physicals, or embarking on rereads from my shelf — and yes, I agree, I had good intentions to do so. I thought about it every day. But, ahem, we’re only starting that now.

But onto the book itself! I read THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING five years ago and, despite all the books I’ve read since, I still somehow remembered a few scenes from this book quite vividly. As it turned out, I remembered the first 40% almost perfectly. It was everything after that point which felt sorta new to me. Which was actually kinda nice. Reading this ended up being less of a rehash than I thought it would. What was also nice was that while I remembered liking this back in 2015, I obviously couldn’t know if it would stand up after all this time, or if I’ve feel any different. But it did and I didn’t.

What I didn’t remember is that a) this isn’t the young kind of YA you might expect after reading the summary, and in fact I wouldn’t actually classify it as YA at all, and instead just slot this in under adult fantasy/dystopian with a heroine who happens to be nineteen, and b) I forgot this world was founded in the ashes of our own. Somehow. The Tearling was an attempt to leave a dying world of behind, as well as the technology that had likely helped speed it’s demise, and so some things (references, books, history) are familiar but the world of the now is less refined, more primitive, despite the knowledge of so much more. It makes for a strange experience but one I liked. But it is, still, fantasy.

There are a whole host of characters that get significant page time, if not actual POVs, other than Kelsea, and yes that includes an ensemble cast of guards. My favourite, we love an ensemble. Additionally we also have an enigmatic potential love interest (maybe? hard to say). The Queen herself is also a very interesting character. Despite having been hidden away, sheltered and sequestered, left ignorant by certain events both in history and from her own family’s past, she’s educated and righteous and definitely a character to root for. The author has also made her plus-sized (I think? there are mentions of her weight but I don’t know if she’s just meant to be chubby or more) as well as plain. And despite her intelligence, despite her strength, I appreciated the brief glimpses of insecurity, of vanity, that she fights against when confronted by her perceived shortcomings. In that sense (and others I won’t mention), I do see shades of Carson’s Girl of Fire and Thorns series but as I love those books? It’s not a bad thing. Also, like that series, there are a number of societal and social issues that Kelsea’s eyes are opened to after inheriting her crown, systems that have been put in place, compromises made, that ignite her rage. And I love that the author is spending time with this, instead of just directing the focus to a neighbouring ruler who has done evil. She must confront the horror and injustice in her own backyard, as well.

I’m so happy I picked this book up again, so happy I decided to start my Read Your Own Damn Owned Books, Hollis journey with this series, and I cannot wait to read on. And by that I mean immediately pick up book two because I am all about that binge lyfe.

NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – OCTOBER 6, 2020

Happy “where’d all my money go?” new release Tuesday, everyone!

As you know, the most exciting day of the week in this community is the day that follows the one we all dread (Mondays for the nope) and today we’re going to highlight some of the new books chipping away at our bank accounts — but each one is so worth it.


THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE by V.E. Schwab is a story about a young woman, the Devil, and a desperate bargain that leaves her forgotten by the world. But today her story is finally told.

IN A HOLIDAZE by Christina Lauren is a Groundhog Day-style holiday story. And today you can live this day and the swoons over and over.

THE LIVES OF SAINTS by Leigh Bardugo is a book pulled from the pages of her Grishaverse series and features drawn illustrations alongside the tales of miracles and martyrdom. If it’s anything like her LANGUAGE OF THORNS release, this is going to be stunning.

THE TOWER OF NERO by Rick Riordan is the fifth and final book in the Trials of Apollo series.. but also the final in the Half-Blood Chronicles and we just don’t know what to do with that information.

SPOILER ALERT by Olivia Dade is a “delightfully fun romantic comedy set in the world of fanfiction, in which a devoted fan goes on an unexpected date with her celebrity crush, who’s secretly posting fanfiction of his own.” Sounds full of delicious tropes and have you seen that cover? Stunning! This romcom is out in the world on October 6, 2020.

THE WOLF AND THE WATER by Josie Jaffrey is a greek mythological type of tale. 16 year old Kala, ostracised by her society because of a disability, finds secrets among her grief and seeks to find answers. This YA historical fantasy is out on October 8, 2020.


Are there any titles out today you’re excited for? Let us know in the comments below!

THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE by V. E. Schwab – double review!

A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.


Title : The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
Author : V.E. Schwab
Format : eARC
Page Count : 448
Genre : fantasy
Publisher : Tor Books/Titan Books
Release Date : October 6, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis/Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5/★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

I don’t know how to start this review — I’ve watched the cursor blink for a while now — or even how to go about explaining how I knew I was enjoying this story throughout, was likely to rate it a four, but kept waiting to be blown away. It was an almost love, complete with admiration for the creativity, the detail, everything the author researched; it was a maybe reread, but equally maybe not, which is a distinction not many books get, as we all know.

Being forgotten, she thinks, is a bit like going mad. You begin to wonder what is real, if you are real. After all, how can a thing be real if it cannot be remembered?

And then suddenly I’m crying. Then I’m marveling at.. something. Then I knew I loved it.

Time has no face, no form, nothing to fight against. But in his mocking smile, his toying words, the darkness has given her the one thing she truly needs : an enemy.

Even knowing the premise of what this book was about, I didn’t think long enough on the mechanics of it, the complexities and caveats created by the bargain. And I thought that was wonderfully done. I’ll admit certain bits did feel a bit repetitive in the beginning, and I wasn’t always totally immersed in Addie’s mind or perspective (though I couldn’t tell you why), but neither of those things take away from the fact that the way this was written, the choice of words, the passages, the.. everything.. was just so beautiful. I don’t know if maybe the sheer loveliness or the sheer loneliness is to blame for sometimes pulling me out of the story, instead of pulling me under, but I mean.. that’s still kind of a good thing?

This should definitely be on your radar and, incase you couldn’t tell, I can’t wait to read this one again.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **


Micky’s 4 star review

This was a book of two definite halves for me. The first half I found morose, depressing and inexpliably sad. I told my buddy that it needed to be called The Hopeless Life of Addie LaRue. But on reflection, VE Schwab knows best.

The story was compelling, even in the first half, no doubt about that. But, it was hard to read about Addie’s life, her struggle, the moments she had to get through. The past and present timelines were so clearly outlined that I never faltered with the jumps back and forth.

“Are you lost?”
Déjà vu. Déjà su. Déjà vecu. Already seen. Already known. Already lived.

The second half did a number on me, it won me around in a way I didn’t see coming. It made the first half fall into place and as a whole it was 100% memorable. I found hope, I found fear and everything came with an aftertaste of bittersweet. This wasn’t a neatly tied story, it was incredibly melancholy but I do welcome a read that takes you out of a normal format of story strucure and expectations.

I’ve told you nothing about the story in this review but the characters were exceptional. Addie in particular was humbly endearing with necessary grey facets to that character. I’m left feeling unsure how I feel about Luc, how believing I was of him, but I know this, Henry was a beautiful creation who won my heart.

“Three hundred years,” she whispers. “And you can still find something new.”

There were illustrations at the start of the seven parts to this book and they took my breath away, none more than the start of Part Seven where tears gently welled.

VE Schwab wrote uniquely, with imagination that is rare. This was some story that definitely needed to be told. If you do struggle with that first half, hold on, because there are words to pull you through.

I remember you.

Thank you to Titan Books for the gifted review copy.

MISS METEOR by Tehlor Kay Mejia & Anna-Marie McLemore

There hasn’t been a winner of the Miss Meteor beauty pageant who looks like Lita Perez or Chicky Quintanilla in all its history. But that’s not the only reason Lita wants to enter the contest, or why her ex-best friend Chicky wants to help her. The road to becoming Miss Meteor isn’t about being perfect; it’s about sharing who you are with the world—and loving the parts of yourself no one else understands. So to pull off the unlikeliest underdog story in pageant history, Lita and Chicky are going to have to forget the past and imagine a future where girls like them are more than enough—they are everything.

Witty and heartfelt with characters that leap off the page, Miss Meteor is acclaimed authors Anna-Marie McLemore and Tehlor Kay Mejia’s first book together.


Title : Miss Meteor
Author : Tehlor Kay Mejia & Anna-Marie McLemore
Format : ARC
Page Count : 396
Genre : YA LGBTQIAP+ contemporary/magical realism
Publisher : HarperTeen
Release Date : September 22, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

If you’re looking for a lovely, heartfelt, and heartwarming story about friendship, about accepting who you are even in the face of judgment and ridicule, about taking risks, about friendship blossoming into more..? You need this book.

I am a girl worth the space I take up.

I won’t say it’s a walk in the park to read. As mentioned RE judgment and ridicule, there is a significant amount of bullying, homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia within the pages of this book. There were times this was hard. There were times I wanted to set fire to certain characters. But those who were being targeted found their voices, they pushed back, and I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that the bullies don’t win this one.

You guys aren’t, like, mad? You don’t think I’m a weirdo?
Honey, we’re not even surprised. I mean, at first I didn’t know what [pansexual] meant. I thought maybe we’d left you alone in the kitchen to wash the skillets too many times and..

This story has a magical realism element that is just.. well, magical. A little strange. A bit whimsical. A whole lot of wonderful. It helped, too, that said magical element was also surrounding my favourite POV. While Chicky’s sibling dynamic was a huge highlight of this story, and I loved that she broke out to claim something of herself, I’ll admit I didn’t quite love being in her head. At least not compared to Lita. Lita who also had the sweetest of love interests (though actually I liked both romances, yes, two for the price of one!) and.. yeah, Lita just completely won me over. I feel very soft.

“I called Kendra. She said it was okay.”
She what?
She said, ‘Yeah, sure, why don’t you just move in while you’re at it?’
Do we need to have a discussion about what sarcasm is?

This whole experience, even the hard bits, was just a delight. There are familiar elements at work — small town, battle of the classes/jocks vs not-jocks, popular kids picking on the not-populars, etc — but this’ll stand out not just because of the representation, of which there is much, but because of how lovely and supportive this group of friends are. You know me, I’m trash for an ensemble, and throw in a cause (in this case, challenging the status quo of the beauty pageant), and it all just.. works.

When you look at me, I know you see more than the shortstop, or the trans guy, or whatever people call me when they forget my name. Do you know how much I need that? Do you know what it’s like to have that when you usually don’t get it?

I highly recommend finding some #ownvoices reviewers, as their opinion should definitely take precedence over mine, but I also highly recommend you just read this book.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

AS THE SHADOW RISES by Katy Rose Pool

The Last Prophet has been found, yet he sees destruction ahead.

In this sequel to the critically-acclaimed There Will Come a Darkness, kingdoms have begun to fall to a doomsday cult, the magical Graced are being persecuted, and an ancient power threatens to break free. But with the world hurtling toward its prophesized end, Anton’s haunting vision reveals the dangerous beginnings of a plan to stop the Age of Darkness.

As Jude, Keeper of the Order of the Last Light, returns home in disgrace, his quest to aid the Prophet is complicated by his growing feelings for Anton. Meanwhile, the assassin known as the Pale Hand will stop at nothing to find her undead sister before she dies for good, even if it means letting the world burn. And in Nazirah, Hassan, the kingdom-less Prince, forms a risky pact to try to regain his throne. When the forces of light and darkness collide in the City of Mercy, old wounds are reopened, new alliances are tested, and the end of the world begins. 


Title : As The Shadow Rises
Author : Katy Rose Pool
Series : Age of Darkness (book two)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 496
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Release Date : September 1, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

I’m not going to say this was a disappointing sequel, because it wasn’t, but I’ll admit that the excitement I felt in book one was mostly missing here. Whereas in THERE WILL COME A DARKNESS I think I was pretty interested in all of the POVs, this time I definitely had favourites and sorta slogged along in some of the paralell plotlines as they eventually converged into one. That said, this is definitely a twisty installment and of a few of the reveals, I think I only managed to predict one of them. I really liked that.

I mentioned in my review for book one, this is definitely a darker, grittier, version of the Falling Kingdoms series. And I totally stand by that assesment; in fact, this book only solidified my opinion on that comparison. We didn’t gain any new POVs, though we did gain quite a few new faces along the way, but what did change were many of the dynamics we had been given in book one. I enjoyed seeing these characters overlap, pass amongst each other, and then come together.

I did like this installment, it pretty much absorbed me all afternoon, but I hope book three pushes this out of like-zone and back to really like (if not love!)-zone to round out the series.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

BROTHERSONG by TJ Klune

In the ruins of Caswell, Maine, Carter Bennett learned the truth of what had been right in front of him the entire time. And then it—he—was gone. 

Desperate for answers, Carter takes to the road, leaving family and the safety of his pack behind, all in the name of a man he only knows as a feral wolf. But therein lies the danger: wolves are pack animals, and the longer Carter is on his own, the more his mind slips toward the endless void of Omega insanity. 

But he pushes on, following the trail left by Gavin. 

Gavin, the son of Robert Livingstone. The half-brother of Gordo Livingstone. 

What Carter finds will change the course of the wolves forever. Because Gavin’s history with the Bennett pack goes back further than anyone knows, a secret kept hidden by Carter’s father, Thomas Bennett. 

And with this knowledge comes a price: the sins of the fathers now rest upon the shoulders of their sons. 


Title : Brothersong
Author : TJ Klune
Series : Green Creek (book four)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 522
Genre : LGBTQIA+ fantasy/paranormal
Publisher : BOATK Books
Release Date : October 13, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 5 star review

When I tell you this book made me cry a lot.. I don’t think that is going to come across in a way that you’ll understand until you read this book. I shed tears, I wept, I held back sobs. Over and over again. I don’t know what it is about this author and his ability to wreck me (us) with his words but oh god. Prepare youself for devastation, for beauty, for heartbreak, for healing, for sadness, for quiet moments.. everything.

We weren’t Ox and Joe. Or Kelly and Robbie. Or even Gordo and Mark, though the fuck you vibe was apparently a family trait.

I can’t really say anything about this beyond that. Not only is BROTHERSONG a sequel but it’s an end. For us. Whether something new might begin? Who is to say. So many songs have been sung along the way; from wolves, to ravens, to hearts, and brothers. This series is about bonds, formed out of blood or built out of friendship, connection, and the fact that I’m tearing up as I write this, when I should long have run out of tears, says it all.

Three years. One month. Twenty-six days. I lived through that. I lived through the thirteen months it took for us to get [spoiler for book three] back. I saw firsthand what happened with Mark and Gordo. And then you decided to.. what? Be wholly original and leave, too?
Whoa. That was a bitchy thing to say. Go Ox.”

I reread the books leading up to this, thinking I needed it all fresh in my mind, needed to once again be close to these characters before I could say goodbye, and while I’m sure many Klunatics are doing so? It’s not needed. So much of this book hashes out previous events, prior wrongs, in an attempt to come together, to finally do more than just apply bandages on still lingering wounds, so they can let go and face this big conflict that might be the end of them. This family, this pack (packpack), has so much baggage and Klune makes them work through it. It can be agonizing at times, to go through it over and over again, to see the same choices lead to the same mistakes, but it’s utterly human; for all that these characters are mostly not.

Will, sit your ass down and leave my customers alone.”
I’m his constituent. I have a right to know what’s going on in my local government, especially when it involves shape-shifters. Huh. Of all the sentences that have ever come out of my mouth, that one was the strangest.”

Is it perfect? If I were to reread it, would I award it full marks, or would I downgrade like I did on my WOLFSONG revisit? Hard to say. But right now? It gets everything. Not just because I cried an ocean but because I couldn’t tear myself away. In a time when even when I’m loving a book I’m still occasionally distracted, reaching for my phone, I didn’t do that once. The only moments I stepped away were to blow my nose (seriously, the crying, it was ridiculous) so, I mean, there were a lot of those moments. But it was impossible to look away for anything else.

Don’t take the chance that he’ll always be there. We must remember to say what’s in our hearts aloud because we can never know if it’ll be the last time we’ll ever get the chance.

I can’t wait for this book to be out in the world, I can’t wait for all the longtime fans to get their paws on it, I feel so lucky to have read this early, particularly as I’m rather new to this world, but I promise you it’s worth the wait. You know the drill by now; you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll do both at the same time, you’ll break apart only to be stitched back together. Again and again. Because that’s how it goes.

Packpackpack 4ever.

** I received an ARC from the author (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

THE DAMNED by Renée Ahdieh – double review!

New York Times bestselling author Renée Ahdieh returns with the second installment of her new sumptuous, sultry and romantic series, The Beautiful.

Following the events of The Beautiful, Sébastien Saint Germain is now cursed and forever changed. The treaty between the Fallen and the Brotherhood has been broken, and war between the immortals seems imminent. The price of loving Celine was costly. But Celine has also paid a high price for loving Bastien.

Still recovering from injuries sustained during a night she can’t quite remember, her dreams are troubled. And she doesn’t know she has inadvertently set into motion a chain of events that could lead to her demise and unveil a truth about herself she’s not quite ready to learn.

Forces hiding in the shadows have been patiently waiting for this moment for centuries. And just as Bastien and Celine begin to uncover the danger around them, they learn their love could tear them apart.


Title : The Damned
Author : Renée Ahdieh
Series : The Beautiful #2
Format : eARC / eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 456
Genre : Fantasy
Publisher : Hodder Books
Release Date : July 7, 2020

Reviewer : Micky / Hollis
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★.5 /


Micky’s 4.5 star review

Damn but that was good (see what I did there). THE DAMNED utilised all that world-building from book one and just pressed launch. This read was full to the brim of vampiric content and I came to love these characters so much more in this installment. It was an exciting read from cover to cover with a reasonably fast-pace, peppered with lulls to catch your breath.

Sometimes when a book is really good, I highlight and highlight text but with THE DAMNED, I forgot about highlighting, I was that absorbed. The characters I’d come to like from THE BEAUTIFUL became characters I loved and of course, Bastien and Celine were central to this. With that ending to THE BEAUTIFUL, you just know that the world was a confusing place for both these characters at the start of this book.

The story was complex and cleverly woven, but some of the confusion I felt in book one was not a factor in this book. That previous world building paved the way for the characters and different beings to play out with ease. There were so many unexpected factors and plot twists that kept me on the edge of my seat. I enjoyed particularly the Wyld and the Vale components to the story.

This book /series has delicious side characters and Odette continued to float my boat and I enjoyed getting to know Jae, Ahrun and even Nicodemus better. Pippa had some low level involvement but I see more from her to come.

The chemistry between Bastien and Celine was like a vampire sizzling in the hot sun (snort). These two had a journey and I had no idea where it was going to end up. I will say that Bastien was the kind of hero I could get on board with.

“Do you wish you could make this decision for me?”
“I do. More than I care to admit.”
“Then why have you given me the choice, against this inclination?
“Because I should not make your story about me.”

THE DAMNED blew book one out of the water for me. It gave me all the vampire I wanted and needed and a story to grip consistently. I want more from this series and the end indicates that’s the case.

Thank you to Hodder Books for the early review copy.


Hollis’ 1.5 star review

So my biggest take-away is : you mean to tell me this isn’t a duology? Siiiiiigh.

Appropos of said realization was the fact that I could not understand how this sequel fit in that two-book wrap up. I felt we took such a dramatic turn from the lack of worldbuilding in book one to overdosing on it, but not in a good or helpful way, in book two that the whole pacing and feel of this world was just.. off. Not to mention, did we have this many POVs in book one? That threw me off, too. Particularly because I wasn’t having fun with any of them..

Most of these issues are clearly my own fault for not understanding this was a series, not a duology, but I’m still not satisfied. I genuinely feel like nothing about this fit. We either have lots of nothing or lots of everything and no middle ground. But then there is also a whole host of secondary characters with their own set of problems (and, if you’re Odette in one of the early chapters, a whole monologue of speaking aloud to.. no one) we’re supposed to apparently care about — which I feel is unrealistic given their page time — and then.. the villain? That whole element/plot/evil plan? I don’t even know where to begin.

I’ll probably read the final (please tell me this is only a trilogy and nothing more..) because hashtag completionist but wow what a disappointment. I mean, it’s not like I had been a huge fan of THE BEAUTIFUL, I only rated it a three for the potential, but I guess I expected better or at least something on par with that. Not.. this. Guess middle book syndrome strikes again.

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