Archives for February 2015

Story Time with Sara: Cinderella’s Secret Slipper by Alinka Rutkowska

storytime
Cinderella's Secret Slipper

Cinderella’s Secret Slipper
written by Alinka Rutkowska
published by Capraro Press 2015

find it here: (affiliate links) Amazon, iBooks, Smashwords, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange  for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
Cinderella’s Secret Slipper wasn’t a hit for me. I’m also not a big fan of the original Cinderella story, so that might be part of it.

The first thing that hit me about Secret Slipper was the title. I thought perhaps there was going to be a new secret pair of slippers for Cinderella. There were not. In fact, the slippers in question were the same famous (not secret) slippers that she wore the whimsical night that she met the perfect stranger that would save her from her life of drudgery.

The illustrations are very vibrant and colorful, but the actual drawing seemed a little childish to me. I felt as though the style of simplistic art didn’t quite jive with the semi-modernized fairy tale characters. My son, however, enjoyed going back and looking at all the pictures again while he “read” the story to me (but he did ask me why the four-year-old Junior looked like a baby . . .).

The story also lacked a bit in my book. In addition to being entertaining, I like my children’s stories to have a moral or a lesson. Like the moral of the original story, the only thing we learn from Secret Slipper is that a magical being will come and solve all your problems if you wait long enough. It would have been neat if Cinderella and Junior could have endeavored to discover their own secret magic in order to fix the broken shoe. Further, I was disappointed that there was no consequence for Junior for stealing his mother’s shoe and breaking it. He was merely told to go play with his dragon when he asked if he could help fix it. That’s not quite the direction I expected the book to take, considering it’s a children’s story.

I did like how the story had questions at the end of the book to test for reading retention/comprehension. My preschooler enjoyed answering the questions and going back to the story to check the answers. He had more fun doing this than reading the story the first time around. According to my son, the best part of the book was when Junior smashed the bug with Cinderella’s slipper!

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Would I recommend it: If you have a child who adores Cinderella and can’t get enough of her, then this story will likely be a hit. However, if you are not a big fan of Cinderella (or bugs smashed with glass slippers), I would say there are other stories that can entertain and teach better than this one. If my son asks me to read it again I will, but Secret Slipper is certainly not my first choice of story book.

sarasig

About the book – from Goodreads: Cinderella’s Secret Slipper is a story of our favorite princess who more than anything else wants to wear her famous glass slippers to her son’s birthday party. But she can’t because her four-year-old smashed one of them in an attempt at killing a mosquito on the wall. Where is she going to get a glass slipper now?

 

efchappy

h&m online

The EFC Writer – Common Nouns vs. Proper Nouns (Appositives)

 

Welcome to the EFC Writer — a series of quick, easily digestible writing tips based on some stuff EFC Services editor Melissa Ruiz is seriously annoyed you’re still doing.  

 

TODAY’S TOPIC: COMMON NOUNS VS. PROPER NOUNS (Appositives)

Seems easy, right? Madonna is a woman. Target is a store. My Prius is not a cool car. Capitalize the proper nouns and leave the common ones lowercase.  OK, but guys, if it’s so easy, then WHY are you still doing things like this:

  • I would love to speak to the President. 
  • The Detective closed the case. 
  • FBI Special Agent Melissa Ruiz discovered an alien.  

STOP IT. Seriously. DON’T capitalize anything unless you’re talking about a specific noun. If you’re using the noun to indirectly reference something, it should not be capitalized. If, on the other hand, you’re using it alone as part of a name, uppercase away, my friends (and yes, I just verbed a noun. Twice. Sue me).  Like this:

  • I would love to speak to President Obama. 
  • I want to re-open the case, Detective McHottie. 
  • Did you discover an alien, Agent Ruiz? 

FOR GRAMMAR GEEKS:

Appositives are tricky . . . they give more information about the words following them, and they’re often official titles. They come BEFORE the name, but they’re used as descriptions of the person rather than as part of the title.

MERRIAM-WEBSTER DEFINITION:

APPOSITIVE – ap·pos·i·tive –

APPOSITIVE – ap·pos·i·tive – adjective \ə-ˈpä-zə-tiv, a-\

Definition of APPOSITIVE

:  of, relating to, or standing in grammatical apposition
appositive noun
ap·pos·i·tive·ly adverb

 

Have a suggestion or request for an EFC Writer topic? Want to complain about something? Want more info about EFC Services?

 

E-mail me: everyfreechance@gmail.com with EFC Writer in the subject line.

 

melissasig

efchappy

Blog Tour: The Sparks by Kyle Prue (spotlight, interview, excerpt, giveaway)

The SparksThe Sparks (Feud #1)
written by Kyle Prue
published by Barringer Publishing

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book – from Goodreads: The Vapros, the Taurlum, and the Celerius: three dynasties bound by an ancient promise, and given superhuman abilities to protect the city of Altryon from the dangerous world beyond its walls. Centuries of fighting, however, have turned the families against each other. A powerful emperor now rules and each family has suffered heavy casualties in the feud.

Sixteen-year-old, Neil Vapros desperately wants to become an assassin in order to impress his overly critical father. Despite a failed mission, Neil learns that a new sinister threat has awakened. This mysterious new power will shatter the established order and threaten not only the very lives of these powerful families, but also the once great city of Altryon.

Everything can change with a single “Spark”…

efcexcerpt

Slide the knife between the third and fourth rib.

Neil’s father’s words rang in his ears as he pulled his dark, ornate hood over his head and raised his cloth mask to cover his mouth and nose. He knew all Taurlum had several weak spots on their bodies, but only one was vulnerable enough to cause an instant kill. All he needed to do was thrust his knife directly between the ribs (the third and fourth ribs, he reminded himself) and straight through the heart. Neil’s father had taught him this trick on his tenth birthday. It had been one of the more pleasant ones.

He spent a moment adjusting his mask, making sure his face would remain concealed. Not that it really mattered; during the middle of the day, the mask would do little to camouflage him. Any Taurlum would spot a Vapros like him from a mile away. The disguise had been given to him mostly for the sake of preserving his identity. Nobody needed to know which Vapros boy had made the kill.

Neil ran his finger over the hilt of the knife. His father had presented it to him upon completion of his assassin’s training. Engraved in the handle was the Vapros family crest. The background of the crest was purple and black, with a raven embedded in the center. The Raven was the family nickname, as the black-haired, green-eyed descendants seemed to favor their swift, calculating animal mascot. The raven was known as the bringer of death: an appropriate symbol for the trained assassin. The family motto was inscribed along the bottom: Victory Lies Within the Ashes. Neil loved his knife; it made him feel like a real assassin.

Neil craved the assassin’s glory but knew in his gut that he desperately needed another assassin to assist in this mission. Two stealthy ravens against a Taurlum bull was still a risk, but they would have the element of surprise on their side. Alone it was a certain death mission, but his father’s orders were clear. Neil was desperately alone.

Making it into the giant Taurlum mansion had been easy. Navigating its giant corridors would be harder. Neil glanced carefully around the marble corner. A single guard stood watch. The man wore simple plated armor with red and gold war paint but had removed his helmet to reveal his entire head. Not aTaurlum, Neil thought. The guard lacked the golden blonde hair shared by every direct descendant of the Taurlum line; therefore, this man was not worth his time or effort. Neil squinted in concentration, and then threw all his energy into dematerializing. He reformed a split second later on the other side of the corridor. The guard continued watching the hallway and never noticed Neil materialize just behind him. As silently as he could, the Vapros boy made his way down the hallway toward the communal baths where his target would be waiting.

efcinterview

Here are a few questions from the Q&A from PR by the Book.

 

Where did you get the idea for the Feud series? This is a coming of age story for young adults and I am a teen in that demographic. Everyone struggles to find their path in life and my characters are all struggling with not wanting to let people down and to find their way; forgiveness and hope is a part of that journey as well. One night, at the age of 15, I had terrible insomnia and I couldn’t sleep. I was thinking about the different personalities of my siblings and myself and how we will all follow different paths. That gave me the idea to create three different families loosely based around our differing personalities. I decided it would be fun to take these families and place them in a fantasy world where the obstacles we all face could be magnified to a whole new level. I wrote out the plot for the three books that night.

What drew you to write YA Fantasy? I wanted to write for me. Recently, I’ve hit an “in-between” zone where it’s harder for me to find books I want to read. I wanted to write something that I would want to read and that would appeal to other kids my age. I wanted to appeal to boys who have lost interest in reading and I also created strong female characters that girls will love.

When did you first start writing? Like a lot of kids, I was bullied in middle school. I doubt you will ever find a kid that says, “I rocked 7th grade! That was the best time in my life.” I was short and fat and had a bowl haircut with braces. This was not a great time in my life. But I discovered I could come home and pick up a pen and create a whole fantasy world that I could control, when the rest of my life felt out of control. I learned that I loved to create characters because their potential is limitless.

I was lucky because I learned to use writing as an escape at an early age. I was in a multi-age program from 1st-3rd grade where I had the same teacher for three years. She had an experimental writing program where she gave us an hour a day to write in our journals. She told us to just write freely and not worry about punctuation or grammar, just let the creativity flow. So by the end of that program, I had a stack of notebooks filled with an adventure series. I also did a series called Three Rings that I wrote from the age of 12 to 14 when middle school was really rough. It was a 200-page manuscript. It wasn’t good, but it was good practice.

What are your other interests besides writing? I love stand up comedy because like writing, it requires an ability to look at the world in a unique way and find the humor in that. I’m a varsity swimmer for my school. I’m involved with mock trial, I’m in a number of plays every year, I started an improv club at my school and I’m really involved with our film club—we spend our weekends writing scripts and filming. We are currently working on a web series called “Amockalypse” that I’m really excited about. I pretty much gave up on sleeping after middle school.

Were you a big reader as a kid? In 5th grade, I started at a new elementary school when I moved to Naples. They had a reading contest for whoever read the most books. I ended up reading like 200 books, which was a bit of overkill as the next highest kid read about 75 books, but apparently I’m more competitive than I realized. I just really wanted to beat this girl in my class who told me she was a better reader.

Were you drawn to a certain genre as a kid? When I was younger, I really disliked reading. My mom would read me the books that my brother liked and I just never got into them. One day she was at the bookstore picking out books for us, and she mentioned to the owner that I didn’t seem interested in reading and he asked her about my personality and interests. He recommended that she try some fantasy books for me. She brought home a few of those books and from then on, all I did was read and write. I love young adult fantasy.

Were there certain authors that you really liked? I’ve always loved Rick Riordan, and every kid in my generation loves JK Rowling. My mom started guarding the Harry Potter books and reading them aloud to us, because otherwise I would read one whole book in a night and then tell my siblings what happened. We would barely leave the house until we had finished each book. Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series has been phenomenal.

How have those writers influenced your writing? I think Rick Riordan introduces and writes characters very well, which is something I kept in mind, because I have a group dynamic with my book. But I really like the way JK Rowling set up the overall plot and carried it through, intertwining a lot of different elements. She knew how to set up a big, epic adventure and finished it beautifully. That is what I hope to do with this trilogy.

Do you have a favorite character in The SparksIt alternates a lot. In general, I’ve always been a fan of characters that are only around for one book and that are very big and eccentric. I really like Michael Taurlum because he’s kind of the epitome of what’s wrong with the Taurlum family and he’s just such a child. So it was really interesting to write about him and make him such an aggressive, haughty character.

Can you tell us a bit about the second book, The FlamesOne of the big themes of the second book is that no one should get to a point in their life when they should experience a complete absence of hope. Things will always get better. My best friend from childhood committed suicide this year and I really want other teens to understand that whatever seems so overwhelming in your life today, won’t be what’s important to you down the road. When my characters experience this loss of hope, that is when they gain their advanced powers. Something good can come out of something that in the moment seems so terrible.

The second book in the series focuses on the remaining family members (spoiler alert!) and their friends, as they begin to kindle the revolution. It’s a lot about personal growth for the characters, like Neil and Darius. Even Robert Tanner, who is a minor character in the first book, comes back and has a very big story arc. It is the book where we start to reach that giant conflict that the characters have been stepping toward in the storyline.

 

Kyle Prue

Find Mr. Prue here: web, Twitter, Goodreads

giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

efchappy

Melissa’s Review: Guardian’s Nightmare by Darren Simon

 

Guardian's NightmareGuardian’s Nightmare
written by Darren Simon
published by Divertir Publishing LLC, 2014

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, AmazonBook Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange  for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
It was cute! It’s definitely not the sort of YA book you’d confuse for an adult read (grown-ups: you won’t like it as much as you like Harry Potter), but I’m definitely a fan. I think Simon did the right thing by reworking The Last Guardian and the Reject Bike (here’s the LINK) and including a female heroine. The story has just the right level of intensity for a young audience, and let’s face it, flying bikes are cool.

everyfree3.5

 

Would I recommend it: It’d be a great gift for a preteen.

melissasig

About the book – from Book Depository: 
Charlee Smelton is an average thirteen-year-old girl struggling to adapt after her family moves to San Francisco. She thinks her biggest obstacle is facing the bullies who brand her a nerd and a dweeb. She’s wrong. Her life is about to change-for the worse. First, she receives a gift of the ugliest, most old fashioned bike she has ever seen. Try as she might to ditch it in the city, she just can’t seem to escape that very mysterious two-wheeler. Then come the visions of a world across a dimensional divide, a princess in fear for her life and a dark knight pursuing her. Are they just dreams or something more? For Charlee, everything she ever thought she knew about herself soon crumbles as she starts down a path to discover her true self, and she will need that hunk-of-junk bike more than she could ever imagine. Without it, she might not be able to find the hero in herself-the hero she must become to save her friends, family, her city-the world-from an evil only she can defeat. An evil she allows into this world.

 

efchappy

Boost It Tuesday! – February 24, 2015

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Have you noticed that despite ALL of your Facebook “Likes” you are only “reaching” a very small portion of those followers? Does that bother you? It bothers us, and we want to boost each other up. Link up with Every Free Chance & Candace’s Book Blog for Boost It Tuesday.

 

(Don’t worry, Gin’s Book Notes will be back, she has a book to finish so is taking a break for a bit while she does that. And trust me, it’s worth it because this book is AMAZING!)

 

What is Boost It Tuesday, you ask? Well, we want to help each other out. We are a great community of bloggers and authors, and we should be supporting each other. Share your Facebook address below, then visit the Facebook pages, like 3-5 posts, share or comment on 1 or 2 posts. That’s it. You don’t have to “like” the page if you don’t want to, just “like” some posts. Let’s help expand each other’s page reach. Who knows! You may find a new blog or author to follow along the away. Please be aware that any non-Facebook links will be deleted.

 

As an added bonus, Candace and I will be hosting a giveaway each week just to say thanks for the boost!

 

For this week’s giveaway, head over to the Candace’s Book Blog Facebook page and answer the question in the Boost It post!

 

Remember: Like, comment, and share!  Let’s all give each other a boost!

 


 

 
 

efchappy

Blog Tour: The Tell-Tale Heart by Jill Dawson (spotlight)

The Tell-Tale HeartThe Tell-Tale Heart
written by Jill Dawson
published by Harper Perennial

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book – from Goodreads: After years of excessive drink and sex, Patrick has suffered a massive heart attack. Although he’s only fifty, he’s got just months to live. But a tragic accident involving a teenager and a motorcycle gives the university professor a second chance. He receives the boy’s heart in a transplant, and by this miracle of science, two strangers are forever linked.

Though Patrick’s body accepts his new heart, his old life seems to reject him. Bored by the things that once enticed him, he begins to look for meaning in his experience. Discovering that his donor was a local boy named Drew Beamish, he becomes intensely curious about Drew’s life and the influences that shaped him–from the eighteenth-century ancestor involved in a labor riot to the bleak beauty of the Cambridgeshire countryside in which he was raised. Patrick longs to know the story of this heart that is now his own.

In this intriguing and deeply absorbing story, Jill Dawson weaves together the lives and loves of three vibrant characters connected by fate to explore questions of life after death, the nature of the soul, the unseen forces that connect us, and the symbolic power of the heart.

 

Jill DawsonAbout the author: Jill Dawson is the author of Trick of the Light, Magpie,Fred and Edie, which was short-listed for the Whitbread Novel Award and the Orange Prize, Wild Boy, Watch Me Disappear, which was long-listed for the Orange Prize,The Great Lover, and Lucky Bunny. She has edited six anthologies of short stories and poetry, and has written for numerous UK publications, including The Guardian,The Times, Vogue, and Harper’s Bazaar. She lives in Norfolk with her husband and two sons.

Find Ms. Dawson here: websiteTwitter, Goodreads

 

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efchappy

Chrissy’s Review: Losing the Ice by Jennifer Comeaux

Losing the IceLosing the Ice (Ice #2)
written by Jennifer Comeaux
published by Jennifer Comeaux

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange  for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
I did but not as much as the first book in this series. I loved Crossing the Ice (you can read my review here), and I have loved all of Ms. Comeaux’s other books. Losing the Ice just felt a bit different, and it was understandable.

Here’s the tricky part: I don’t want to spoil the book, so I can’t tell you exactly what I thought. Let’s just say that the main event shocked me, had me on the edge of my seat, and had me worried. BUT the aftermath was a bit too slow and frustrating for me. And I know it was slow and frustrating for Courtney and Josh as well. But I missed their normal interaction, skating, and chemistry. I wanted more of that. What happened was awful, and I couldn’t believe it. I loved the role Stephanie played in this book. She gained some points from me in this book. Josh’s mother and father, on the other hand, lost even more points. UGH!

With that said, it was still a good read. I can’t wait for Ice #3. I have to know what happens with Courtney and Josh. I have to!!

everyfree3.5

Would I recommend it: If you read the first book, Crossing the Ice, then you should definitely read this one!

chrissysig

About the book – from Goodreads: 
Courtney and Josh are in love and excited to finally compete as skating partners. When they take the ice for their first competition, they want to show everyone, especially Josh’s family, they are the perfect pair. But ice is slippery, and one misstep puts all their dreams in jeopardy. Now they must show each other both their love and their partnership are strong enough to survive. 

 

efchappy

Story Time with Sara: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

storytime
46677Alexander and the Terrible,Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
written by Judith Viorst
published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 1987

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

Did I enjoy this book: Alexander was a staple of my own childhood, so I was eager to share him with my own children. My son loves it just as much as I did as a child. The best aspect of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is that it demonstrates that you don’t always get your way and sometimes (even in Australia) you have a bad day. I feel this is a lesson that many children today are lacking.

The illustrations are black and white and could be a little more engaging, but my toddler doesn’t seem to mind all that much. One of the things that bothers me from a parenting perspective is that Alexander uses the word “hate” quite a lot. As a parent, I try to encourage my children to express themselves without using negative labeling words like “hate” and “can’t.” It’s okay not to like something, but I would rather my children explain what they don’t like instead of just applying a label. That being said, I still read this to my children frequently. We talk about better ways for Alexander to express his feelings about things that he doesn’t like, so it all works out to be a teaching moment.
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Would I recommend it: This is a fun book that I enjoy reading to my children, and I would recommend it to parents who are looking for an entertaining story with a useful lesson.

sarasig

About the book – from Goodreads: The perennially popular tale of Alexander’s worst day is a storybook that belongs on every child’s bookshelf.

Alexander knew it was going to be a terrible day when he woke up with gum in this hair.
And it got worse…
His best friend deserted him. There was no dessert in his lunch bag. And, on top of all that, there were lima beans for dinner and kissing on TV!
This handsome new edition of Judith Viorst’s classic picture book is sure to charm readers of all ages.

 

efchappy

Chrissy’s Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

InsurgentInsurgent (Divergent #2)
written by Veronica Roth
published by Katherine Tegen Books (an imprint of HarperCollins)

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

Did I enjoy this book: I did enjoy Insurgent. I enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed the first book, Divergent. (You can see my review here. And here are Melissa‘s and Belinda‘s reviews of Divergent. And if you’re interested, here is Melissa’s review of Insurgent.)

I read Divergent last year, and I’ve been wanting to read the remainder of the series. I finally had the chance to pick up Insurgent, and I’m glad I did. It was a good second book in a series. I learned a lot, but I wasn’t bored. It had action, a bit of romance (but not as much as I would have liked), and a few surprises as well. I enjoyed learning more about the different factions and the factionless. It was interesting to see how they each handled different situations and challenges. I was very surprised by quite a few things–the end being the biggest one.

I can’t wait to read Allegiant.

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Would I recommend it: Yes, especially if you enjoyed Divergent.

chrissysig
About the book – from Goodreads: 
One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

 

efchappy

Sara’s Review: Mythos by Vrinda Pendred

MythosMythos (The Descendants #1)
written by Vrinda Pendred
published by Vrinda Pendred

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Smashwords, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange  for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
The first aspect of the book that struck me was the characters. They are well developed and multi-dimensional. Quality characters are a must for me, and Mythos does not disappoint. I was immediately drawn to Itzy–she has just enough “every girl” to relate to a wide range of readers while still having plenty of mystery to keep us interested.

The plot was engaging and kept me wanting more up to the end. I have to admit I was a little worried when I discovered there were “aliens” (there are so many ways to go wrong with aliens), but it was very well done. I am also a lover of all sorts of mythology, so I really enjoyed that Pendred incorporated several different ancient cultures into her story.
Further, I was quite impressed with how imaginative the characters’ alien powers are. The descriptions of how Itzy and the others use their mental powers are very engaging and very cool, too! The only thing that bothers me is that several of the characters have very powerful abilities. In fact they are so powerful I was left wondering why the climax even needed to occur because Aiden could have resolved the issue with a thought. This is always a risk in magical worlds, because if you give your characters amazing powers your plot has to be robust enough to support them. A tiny bit of willing suspension of disbelief got me past this though, because I love magic.
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Would I recommend it: I sure would! Mythos has everything a lover of paranormal young adult fiction is looking for: magical beings, unrequited love, love triangles, cool mythology, and a slightly misfit heroine! What’s not to love? I certainly want to read the rest of the series!

sarasig

About the book – from Goodreads: 17-year-old Itzel Loveguard has a secret. The stories she can’t seem to stop writing…sometimes they come true. And now she thinks she may have killed her own father.

But she’s not the only one. Her estranged half-brother Oz and his unfailingly charming friend Seth can do things too. And so can the handsome grey-eyed boy, who seems to have stepped right out of Itzy’s dreams and has been travelling to London in search of the mysterious black pulse.

Suddenly, Itzy is flung on an emotional journey as she struggles to come to terms with her traumatic past – and it leads her into a strange new world of magic and mythology.

Now she finds herself questioning everything she’s ever believed…and wondering who her father thought was coming for her.

 

efchappy