Amber Smoke by Kristin Cast (ARC)

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Spontaneous reaction upon finishing this book? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! That ending was the major of cliffhangers with some author-snark thrown in at the end. “The End…For Now.” I mean, come on! First she gets me invested in the characters, builds up the drama and basically uses the epilogue as a cliffhanger of evil? Genius! The gauntlet has been thrown and I must get my hands on the sequel pronto.

So, to move on and summarize… I loved Amber Smoke!

It’s about Eva and Alek finding their way to each other, their destinies being intertwined with that of the ailing Tartarus. In the realm of the Underworld the prison Tartarus is failing under a curse and tormented souls of the damned are escaping to the mortal realm, wreaking havoc and heralding an apocalypse. Alek, warrior son of the Furies, is sent on a mission by his mothers to find Eva, the descendant of Pythia, who is not yet aware of her ancestry or destiny, before everything falls apart. Though finding this lost daughter of the Oracle proves harder than Alek thought.

The whole story, characters and feel of the world is (not the same but) precisely what I was expecting after having read the first 3 books in the House of Night series which Cast co-authored. I did feel as though the story could have used a bit more something to solidify the relationships and given the whole thing more fluidity. Like a couple of more events to give the characters (and reader) a chance to feel the connection between both them and the plot. To get a more solid grip on everything. Or maybe that’s just me being greedy for more and not ready to let go of the story about Eva and Alek.

If you’ve read The House of Night series, or The Black Jewels series by Anne Bishop, that may not have anything in common other than being built on the premises of other mythological dimensions, the characters that move between and their impact on one another plus the general feeling of them, I think you’ll really like Amber Smoke.

I received this copy from the publisher (Diversion Books) via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Girl in the Shadows by Gwenda Bond (ARC)

I haven’t read that many books with a circus as a backdrop and having read this I don’t understand why, because this book was entertainment of the highest trapeze. Suspenseful with a hint of darkness, but an easy read and quite lovely all together. I loved every minute of this!

It’s about a girl named Moira who dreams of becoming a great magician, performing intricate showy illusions in Las Vegas like her father. There’s one small hitch though. Her father is not keen on the idea of his beloved daughter following in his footsteps, in fact, he won’t even give her a chance to show her skills and shuts her down every time she tries. So, when an invitation to the great Cirque American lands by her feet by accident she takes her chance and who could blame her?

The Miraculous Moira gets a shot at her dream. Little does she know there might be a reason her father was so adamant about keeping her away from magic all these years. Any magic at all…

This book is a stand-alone, though technically Girl in the Shadows is the second book set in this world. The first book published was Girl on a Wire. In retrospect I would have read Girl on a Wire first, because this story’s somewhat based on the first one and both revolve around the same artefact. It made me very curious about Jules, Remy and Dita from Girl on a Wire who Moira befriends upon arriving to the Cirque American, and their adventure.

BUT! This does not diminish Girl in the Shadows at all! So, if you have a chance to read Girl in the Shadows? Take it! 🙂

I received this copy from the publisher (Amazon Skyscape) via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. To see the beautiful cover for this book, check it out on Goodreads or Amazon. It’s gorgeous!