Blog Tour: The Devil Aspect – Craig Russell

Blog Tour: The Devil Aspect – Craig Russell

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Release Date:
March 7th 2019
Publisher: Constable
Pages: 496
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis

A terrifying novel set in Czechoslovakia in 1935, in which a brilliant young psychiatrist takes his new post at an asylum for the criminally insane that houses only six inmates–the country’s most depraved murderers–while, in Prague, a detective struggles to understand a brutal serial killer who has spread fear through the city, and who may have ties to the asylum 

In 1935, Viktor Kosarek, a psychiatrist newly trained by Carl Jung, arrives at the infamous Hrad Orlu Asylum for the Criminally Insane. The state-of-the-art facility is located in a medieval mountaintop castle outside of Prague, though the site is infamous for concealing dark secrets going back many generations. The asylum houses the country’s six most treacherous killers–known to the staff as The Woodcutter, The Clown, The Glass Collector, The Vegetarian, The Sciomancer, and The Demon–and Viktor hopes to use a new medical technique to prove that these patients share a common archetype of evil, a phenomenon known as The Devil Aspect. As he begins to learn the stunning secrets of these patients, five men and one woman, Viktor must face the disturbing possibility that these six may share another dark truth.

Meanwhile, in Prague, fear grips the city as a phantom serial killer emerges in the dark alleys. Police investigator Lukas Smolak, desperate to locate the culprit (dubbed Leather Apron in the newspapers), realizes that the killer is imitating the most notorious serial killer from a century earlier–London’s Jack the Ripper. Smolak turns to the doctors at Hrad Orlu for their expertise with the psychotic criminal mind, though he worries that Leather Apron might have some connection to the six inmates in the asylum.
Steeped in the folklore of Eastern Europe, and set in the shadow of Nazi darkness erupting just beyond the Czech border, this stylishly written, tightly coiled, richly imagined novel is propulsively entertaining, and impossible to put down.

Review

“I will return,” the voice hissed in Viktor’s ear. “I will return and show you the truth and you will be blinded by it. I will show you such horror and fear that you will be burned by its beauty and its clarity.”book cover - 2019-04-19T094103.467

This is my first time reading a book by Craig Russell and I can tell you right away that it definitely won’t be my last. The Devil Aspect follows a young and ambitious psychiatrist named Viktor Kosarek who begins work at an institute for the most criminally insane people of Czechoslovakia. Victor is determined to prove that the six murderers housed here are evidence of the devil aspect. Also occurring in the story is a serial killer loose in Prague, striking fear into the cities residents. As police investigator Lukas Smolak attempts to uncover who’s behind the murders, he discovers there may be a connection to the inmates of the infamous asylum.

I honestly couldn’t put this book down. This story is so tense and gripping, it will definitely have you reading long past bedtime. The story kept me guessing at every turn and I really enjoyed the two different story arcs and the way that they weaved together. I really liked the characters, they were well developed and Viktor and Lukas made for really fascinating protagonists. The story blended murder mystery with supernatural horror incredibly well and the whole way through I was questioning what was real and what wasn’t.

The story in this book is really superb but thing that really made this a five star read for me was the atmosphere. It was so dark and chilling, it made me feel like I was right there in the story. Russell really brings to life this dark and creepy asylum and the freezing foggy streets of Prague. This Gothic horror tale is an addictive roller coaster ride that doesn’t let you off till the very last page. If you’re looking for a new favourite read, I can’t recommend this enough.
5 stars
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Blog Tour: The Lives Before Us – Juliet Conlin

Blog Tour: The Lives Before Us – Juliet Conlin

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Release Date:
March 28th 2019
Publisher: Black and White
Pages: 400
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

A beautifully written, sweeping story of survival, community and love…

It it April 1939, and, in Berlin and Vienna, Esther and Kitty face a brutal choice. Flee Europe, or face the ghetto, incarceration, death.

Shanghai… They’ve heard it whispered that Shanghai might offer refuge. And so, on a crowded ocean liner, these women encounter each other for the first time.

Kitty has been lured to the other side of the world with promises of luxury, love and marriage. But when her Russian fiancé reveals his hand, she’s left to scratch a vulnerable living in Shanghai’s nightclubs and dark corners. Meanwhile, Esther and her daughter shelter in a house of widows until Aaron, a hot-headed former lover, brings fresh hope of survival.

Then, as the Japanese army enters the fray and violence mounts, the women are thrown together in Shanghai’s most desperate times. Together they must fight a future for the lives that will follow theirs.

Review

book cover - 2019-04-09T224206.829I absolutely adored Juliet Conlin’s The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days so I was incredibly excited to pick up her newest release, The Lives Before Us. Set in 1939 the story follows three characters – Esther, Kitty and Yì as they attempt to escape from the violence and death that is spreading across the world at this dark moment in history. It is a powerful and emotional story that I found difficult to put down.

This is definitely the kind of story that sticks with you long after you’re finished reading. The story is told from the differing perspectives of the three characters who are each dealing with their own issues and struggles. They experience the horrors and hardships of a world at war but the story also focuses very much on the ideas of friendship and family at a time when so many are being persecuted.

I really liked all three characters – Kitty who is going to meet a fiance whom she discovers is already married, Yì is a young Chinese boy who has been badly treated all his life and Esther who is trying to escape persecution and protect her daughter. Each character brought a really unique perspective and they blended well to create a compelling tale.

I really enjoyed Conlin’s writing style in her previous novel and if possible I loved it even more in this book. It was so easy to sink into the book and be swept along in the story of these characters. The book was well paced and definitely gave me the opportunity to gain more knowledge about life during that time period. I also really liked the setting for this story – Shanghai – Conlin’s writing really brought it to life and it was fascinating reading about a place I know so little about.

The Lives Before Us is a gorgeously written, touching tale that fans of historical fiction will absolutely adore. If you’ve read The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner, you’re definitely going to love this too.
4 stars
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Book Review: The Devil’s Highway – Gregory Norminton

Book Review: The Devil’s Highway – Gregory Norminton

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Release Date:
January 25th 2018
Publisher: Fourth Estate
Pages: 224
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 2.5/5

Synopsis

Three journeys. Three thousand years. One destination. The Devil’s Highway is a thrilling, epic and intimate tale of love, loss, fanaticism, heroism and sacrifice.

A Roman road, an Iron Age hill fort, a hand-carved flint, and a cycle of violence that must be broken.

An ancient British boy, discovering a terrorist plot, must betray his brother to save his tribe. In the twenty-first century, two people – one traumatised by war, another by divorce – clash over the use and meaning of a landscape. In the distant future, a gang of feral children struggles to reach safety in a broken world. Their stories are linked by one ancient road, the ‘Devil’s Highway’ in the heart of England: the site of human struggles that resemble one another more than they differ.

Spanning centuries, and combining elements of historical and speculative fiction with the narrative drive of pure thriller, this is a breathtakingly original novel that challenges our dearly held assumptions about civilisation.

Review

overThis is a fascinating little book that explores three different journeys at different time periods. At just over two hundred pages that’s quite a lot of ground to cover, but this short read is well paced and full of history and imagination. Spanning across three thousand years, all three perspectives have one destination in mind: The Devil’s Highway.

The three different time settings show life in Britain at completely different times. One is kind of present day setting featuring a young solider returned from Afghanistan, attempting to find a way to live a normal life as a civilian. There is also a future wasteland in which much of what we know of society has broken down, including speech. Finally there is a Roman perspective, in which a group of rebels are attempting to launch an attack on their Roman overseers.

Each story feels realistic and well thought out, the characters are well portrayed and Norminton subtly weaves the similarities between each time period, while still making them feel unique and interesting. Although I enjoyed reading all three, I found the story of the Romans and the Celts to be the most fascinating.

I did find the wasteland future perspective a little difficult to enjoy, the breakdown of language makes it a bit of a difficult read, and that took away some of my enjoyment of the story. Overall I found this an engaging and enjoyable read. The Devil’s Highway is a really original read, and one that manages to pack a lot into such a small space. If you’re looking for a book that is clever and subtle, this should definitely be your next read.
3 stars

Book Review: The Girl in the Tower – Katherine Arden

Book Review: The Girl in the Tower – Katherine Arden

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Series:
The Winternight Trilogy #2
Release Date: January 25th 2018
Publisher: Ebury Publishing
Pages: 364
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingale continues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.

Review

nightingaleThis is the second book in the Winternight trilogy. The first book has become one of my favourite books of all time and so I was incredibly eager to see what was next in store in this magnificent series. I was a little apprehensive that I wouldn’t love it as much as I did the first book, but if possible I loved The Girl in the Tower even more than The Bear and the Nightingale.

The thing that I love most about this book and in fact this series is the detail, the vivid and imaginative world that Katherine Arden has created. It leaps off the page and is so full of magic and folklore that you can’t help but fall in love with this beautiful world. The Girl in the Tower has a fantastic plot that kept me eager for more and on one occasion I almost missed my bus stop on the way home because I was just so absorbed in the story.

Vasya was my favourite character in The Bear and the Nightingale and I loved seeing her grow and prove herself in this second instalment. She’s brave, stubborn and the most wonderful protagonist. I can’t tell who I love more, Vasya or her fearless horse Solovey. There are a whole host of other characters which are well developed and complex, which makes the story come alive even more.

The story manages to encompass so much – not just magic and adventure but friendship, family, romance, politics and lots of other themes in between. The Girl in the Tower has something for everyone, and I cannot recommend it enough. The writing is lush and beautiful, I loved The Girl in the Tower from start to finish and my only problem now is waiting to read the last instalment in Vasya’s story.
5 stars

Book Review: The Familiars – Stacey Halls

Book Review: The Familiars – Stacey Halls

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Release Date: February 7th 2019
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
Pages: 432
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy to review
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis

Fleetwood Shuttleworth is 17 years old, married, and pregnant for the fourth time. But as the mistress at Gawthorpe Hall, she still has no living child, and her husband Richard is anxious for an heir. When Fleetwood finds a letter she isn’t supposed to read from the doctor who delivered her third stillbirth, she is dealt the crushing blow that she will not survive another pregnancy.

When she crosses paths by chance with Alice Gray, a young midwife, Alice promises to help her give birth to a healthy baby, and to prove the physician wrong.

When Alice is drawn into the witchcraft accusations that are sweeping the North-West, Fleetwood risks everything by trying to help her. But is there more to Alice than meets the eye?

As the two women’s lives become inextricably bound together, the legendary trial at Lancaster approaches, and Fleetwood’s stomach continues to grow. Time is running out, and both their lives are at stake.

Only they know the truth. Only they can save each other.

Review

book cover2Last year I read The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown and was completely captivated by the story so when I heard about The Familiars which centres on a young woman accused of witchcraft. The story follows Fleetwood Shuttleworth a young gentlewoman who after miscarrying three children, finds a letter which suggests if she has another child she will not survive. Horrified by this she desperately seeks a midwife who can help her deliver the child that is already growing. When she stumbles upon Alice Gray a local woman with the skills she needs, the two women are caught up in the accusations of witchcraft that are spreading across Lancaster. Only Alice is capable of delivering the baby but will Fleetwood be able to save her from a guilty verdict?

This book is by no means a short book and I read it in a single day. I was completely caught up in the story of Fleetwood and Alice. The story is beautifully told with lush descriptions of the manor houses and wide open countryside that the women traverse. The plot is gripping with plenty of tension as women across the country continue to be accused of witchcraft. The story is very atmospheric, especially the scenes with more supernatural elements. I loved everything about this story from the gorgeous writing style to the magnificent setting.

The story touches on a lot of important subjects from grief, family, marriage and the witch trials but the thing that struck me most about this book is the theme of friendship. Alice and Fleetwood are nothing alike, have lived completely different lives but as the story grows so does their friendship and I particularly loved seeing that blossom as they fought to save each other.

The Familiars is in every way a spellbinding book and while it has a stunning cover the story it contains is just as brilliant. Fans of historical fiction should definitely be adding this to their wish list – The Familiars is definitely not to be missed.
4 stars

 

Book Review: Beautiful Star & Other Stories – Andrew Swanston

Book Review: Beautiful Star & Other Stories – Andrew Swanston

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Release Date:
January 11th 2018
Publisher: The Dome Press
Pages: 256
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis

History is brought alive by the people it affects, rather than those who created it. In Beautiful Star we meet Eilmer, a monk in 1010 with Icarus-like dreams; Charles I, hiding in 1651, and befriended by a small boy; the trial of Jane Wenham, witch of Walkern, seen through the eyes of her grand-daughter. This is a moving and affecting journey through time, bringing a new perspective to the defence of Corfe Castle, the battle of Waterloo, the siege of Toulon and, in the title story, the devastating dangers of the life of the sea in 1875.

Review

beautifulSome days there’s nothing I love better than curling with a good historical fiction and enveloping myself in a different time period. When I was offered the chance to review Beautiful Star & Other Stories I jumped at the chance, not only because I love Andrew Swanston’s Incendium, but because something I’ve read very little of is historical fiction short stories. This collection has seven different tales, all from differing time periods and locations. I thoroughly enjoyed each one, giving a fascinating snapshot of that time period.

The stories are all in some way based on a true event or a true person, and that made the stories all the more enjoyable, knowing that I was learning about stories that are not often talked about. Each story was richly described with a very personal narrative voice. They were vivid and unique, dealing with a variety of themes from friendship and family, to loyalty and courage.

Of the seven stories there were a few that particularly stood out for me. I loved the story of Lady Mary Bankes, who defended Corfe Castle when it was sieges by Parliamentarian forces. This was something I had never heard of, and after doing my own research I am now eager to go and visit the ruins. I also loved the story of the young monk who dreams of learning to fly, as well as the story of a young boy who meets Charles I in a rather unexpected place. It’s the mark of incredible writing that each time period and setting comes alive, and that is definitely the case with Beautiful Star and Other Stories.

Richly detailed and thoroughly researched, Beautiful Star and Other Stories is a wonderful mix of stories. Full to the brim with realism and human voices, it is everything a historical fiction fan could ask for.
4 stars

December Book Haul!

December Book Haul!

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Today I thought I would post my December book haul! I’ve split this into two parts, this one being books that publishers kindly sent me and books that I bought and I’ll have another post later on with the books I got given for Christmas. I’m really proud of myself because I only bought two books in December, as I’m trying to lessen the amount of books I buy. That being said I did get quite a few from publishers, so lets dive in!
 

From Publishers

This Lie Will Kill You – Chelsea Pitcher
book cover (72)This young adult mystery/thriller has been likened to Riverdale and I’m so excited to pick it up.

One year ago, there was a party.
At the party, someone died.
Five teens each played a part and up until now, no one has told the truth.

But tonight, the five survivors arrive at an isolated mansion in the hills, expecting to compete in a contest with a $50,000 grand prize. Of course…some things are too good to be true. They were each so desperate for the prize, they didn’t question the odd, rather exclusive invitation until it was too late.

The Year After You – Nina De Pass
book cover (73)This is a beautiful contemporary ya novel coming from Ink Road books in February. It sounds like it will be a really moving story and I’m really looking forward to reading it.

New Years’ Eve, San Francisco. The most promising party of the year ends in a tragic accident. Cara survives. Her best friend Georgina doesn’t.

Nine months later, Cara is struggling, consumed by guilt and grief. Her mum decides a Swiss boarding school will be the fresh start Cara needs. But Cara knows that swapping sunshine for snow won’t make a blind bit of difference. Georgina is gone, and nothing will bring her back.

Once and Future – Amy Rose Capetta & Cori McCarthy
book cover (74)A Merlin retelling in space? SOLD. I honestly squealed with excitement when this came through the door and it has gone straight to the top of my TBR pile. That cover is also stunning!

I’ve been chased my whole life. As an illegal immigrant in the territory controlled by the tyrannical Mercer corporation, I’ve always had to hide who I am. Until I found Excalibur.

Now I’m done hiding.

My name is Ari Helix. I have a magic sword, a cranky wizard, and a revolution to start.

When Ari crash-lands on Old Earth and pulls a magic sword from its ancient resting place, she is revealed to be the newest reincarnation of King Arthur. Then she meets Merlin, who has aged backward over the centuries into a teenager, and together they must break the curse that keeps Arthur coming back. Their quest? Defeat the cruel, oppressive government and bring peace and equality to all humankind.

No pressure.

Stain – A. G. Howard
book cover (75)This is another release that I am honestly so desperate to read. A Gothic fairytale inspired by The Princess and the Pea? Who wouldn’t want to read that?

Once upon a nightmare, her fairy tale begins…

After Lyra—a princess incapable of speech or sound—is cast out of her kingdom of daylight by her wicked aunt, a witch saves her life, steals her memories, and raises her in an enchanted forest … disguised as a boy known only as Stain. Meanwhile, in Lyra’s rival kingdom, the prince of thorns and night is dying, and the only way for him to break his curse is to wed the princess of daylight, for she is his true equal. As Lyra rediscovers her identity, an impostor princess prepares to steal her betrothed prince and her crown. To win back her kingdom, save the prince, and make peace with the land of the night, Lyra must be loud enough to be heard without a voice, and strong enough to pass a series of tests—ultimately proving she’s everything a traditional princess is not.

Burn for Burn – Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivan
book cover (76)I recently read all of the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before books and a few people have recommended this series to me so I was so pleased when this surprise piece of post arrived!

Postcard-perfect Jar Island is home to charming tourist shops, pristine beaches, amazing oceanfront homes—and three girls secretly plotting revenge.

KAT is sick and tired of being bullied by her former best friend.

LILLIA has always looked out for her little sister, so when she discovers that one of her guy friends has been secretly hooking up with her, she’s going to put a stop to it.

MARY is perpetually haunted by a traumatic event from years past, and the boy who’s responsible has yet to get what’s coming to him.

None of the girls can act on their revenge fantasies alone without being suspected. But together…anything is possible.

Slay On Tour – Kim Curran
book cover (78)The SLAY boys are back and this time they’re heading to Japan. I honestly can’t wait to find out what’s next in store for this demon fighting boyband!

SLAY are BACK…and this time they’re headed to Tokyo to track down another hell-raising demon. When they’re invited on tour with a super-cool band of holographic girls, SLAY find themselves whisked off around Japan – until strange things start happening on their tour train. Suddenly it seems it’s not just SLAY’s fans following their every move…

The Glass Woman – Caroline Lea
I absolutely adore historical fiction and this honestly sounds like the perfect book for me. This icy mystery is definitely going to be a great book to cuddle up with on a winter evening.

1686, ICELAND. AN ISOLATED, WINDSWEPT LAND HAUNTED BY WITCH TRIALS AND STEEPED IN THE ANCIENT SAGAS.
Betrothed unexpectedly to 
book cover (79)Jón Eiríksson, Rósa is sent to join her new husband in the remote village of Stykkishólmur. Here, the villagers are wary of outsiders.
But Rósa harbours her own suspicions. Her husband buried his first wife alone in the dead of night. He will not talk of it. Instead he gives her a small glass figurine. She does not know what it signifies.
The villagers mistrust them both. Dark threats are whispered. There is an evil here – Rósa can feel it. Is it her husband, the villagers – or the land itself?
Alone and far from home, Rósa sees the darkness coming. She fears she will be its next victim . . .

The Fork, the Witch & the Worm – Christopher Paolini
book cover (69)Eragon and the gang are back in this all new collection of short stories from the Inheritance cycle. I was on the blog tour for this so you can check out my thoughts here!

A wanderer and a cursed child. Spells and magic. And dragons, of course.

Welcome back to the world of Alagaësia. It’s been a year since Eragon departed Alagaësia in search of the perfect home to train a new generation of Dragon Riders. Now he is struggling with an endless sea of tasks: constructing a vast dragonhold, wrangling with suppliers, guarding dragon eggs, and dealing with belligerent Urgals and haughty elves. Then a vision from the Eldunarí, unexpected visitors, and an exciting Urgal legend offer a much-needed distraction and a new perspective. This volume features three original stories set in Alagaësia, interspersed with scenes from Eragon’s own unfolding adventure. 

My Sister, the Serial Killer – Oyinkan Braithwaite
book cover (59)I was sent this book through ReadersFirst and I ended up reading it in one sitting. Dark, gripping and fascinating, this is a brilliant read.

Femi makes three, you know. Three and they label you a serial killer.”

Korede is bitter. How could she not be? Her sister, Ayoola, is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola’s third boyfriend in a row is dead. Korede’s practicality is the sisters’ saving grace. She knows the best solutions for cleaning blood, the trunk of her car is big enough for a body, and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures of her dinner to Instagram when she should be mourning her “missing” boyfriend. Not that she gets any credit.
A kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where Korede works, is the bright spot in her life. She dreams of the day when he will realize they’re perfect for each other. But one day Ayoola shows up to the hospital uninvited and he takes notice. When he asks Korede for Ayoola’s phone number, she must reckon with what her sister has become and what she will do about it.

Books I Bought:

 Obsidio – Jay Kristoff & Ami Kaufman
book cover (77)The third and final book in the Illuminae Files, I had to rush out and buy this as soon as I finished Gemina. I’m pretty sure it’s going to break my heart though.

Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they’ll find seven months after the invasion?

Meanwhile, Kady’s cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza’s ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha’s past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. 

With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heroes will fall, and hearts will be broken…

Evermore – Sara Holland
book cover (36)This is definitely one of my most anticipated releases. I loved Everless so I’m really excited to get back to this magical world and I hope it’s just as good as book one!

Jules Ember was raised hearing legends of the ancient magic of the wicked Alchemist and the good Sorceress. But she has just learned the truth: not only are the stories true, but she herself is the Alchemist, and Caro—a woman who single-handedly murdered the Queen and Jules’s first love, Roan, in cold blood—is the Sorceress.

The whole kingdom believes that Jules is responsible for the murders, and a hefty bounty has been placed on her head. And Caro is intent on destroying Jules, who stole her heart twelve lifetimes ago. Jules must delve into the stories that she now recognizes are accounts of her own past. For it is only by piecing together the mysteries of her lives that Jules will be able to save the person who has captured her own heart in this one.

So that’s my December book haul! If you’ve read any of these definitely let me know what you thought of them and also let me know which books you bought in December!