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Author Interview with Scott Bergstrom

AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH SCOTT BERGSTROM

Author of The Cruelty

Hello my faithful Bookies,

I’m so excited to share with you my exclusive author interview with Scott Bergstrom who’s debut novel The Cruelty is out now.  

If you haven’t done so already, do yourselves a favour, go and get The Cruelty now. There are so many theme’s throughout this book and it may surprise you to find that these themes are eye opening. Also it’s nice to have a strong female protagonist, but if you want to know more about this book see my review in this link.

I spent quite some time mewling over these questions because as any avid fan would, I had MANY but I also wanted to bring you, my followers, insightful and exclusive information as to how Scott created his masterpiece.

Before I jump into the interview I just wanted to say a special thanks to Scott for taking the time to answer my questions, it has been an honour and a privilege to speak with you.

And thank you Anna for setting it up!

So without further ado…..

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How did the idea for The Cruelty come about, were you always captivated by spies and assassins or did the idea come to you in some special way?

I’ve always loved thrillers. Growing up, my parents always had them lying around. So I started grabbing those great paperbacks off my parents’ nightstands, probably when I was way too young for them. The first kernel of a plot for The Cruelty came when my mother, who was working for the State Department, volunteered for a posting in Baghdad. To say the least, I was very concerned for her safety. But the specifics of the plot came to me when I was travelling on a train between Berlin and Prague. I found myself in the train’s corridor, staring at the handle for the emergency brake. I wondered, what would happen if I pulled it? That scene is still there, in the middle of the novel, and everything before it and after it came from that one question.

When you first began writing The Cruelty was it always your plan to write for the young adult audience? What appealed to you with YA fiction verses adult fiction? 

The theme of self-discovery is one we all wrestle with throughout our lives, but particularly when we’re young. That idea of growth, of searching for and finding one’s self, is something that is well-suited to YA and that YA does very well. At the beginning of The Cruelty, Gwendolyn is a cynic who doesn’t believe in heroes, even saying they belong only in ‘paper worlds.’ But when her father disappears, she discovers she needs to become precisely that—a hero—if she’s going to bring him home.

I love Gwendolyn, she’s a very strong character for so many reasons. What made you decide to make your protagonist a female teenager? Is there a message you particularly wanted to convey through choosing a female lead?

The character of Gwendolyn came to me a year or so before I started writing The Cruelty. I was working on a non-fiction book about architecture, when she showed up in my imagination one day. Certain specific qualities of her are based on my wife, most predominantly her courage, but the smaller aesthetic details are my wife’s as well, such as the red Doc Martens she wears, and her dislike of skirts and make-up. As far as the message, it applies regardless of gender, and it’s that human bravery and heroism are real, or can be, with enough determination.

You’ve come so far and I’m sure learnt so much since self publishing, winning publishing contracts worldwide and film rights which are some major feats. Did your experiences while going through these publishing processes prompt you to make any unplanned changes from your original self printed editions?

There was a long gap between when I finished the novel and the time it was accepted for publication. During that time I had a chance to think about the story and fix the things that bothered me about it, things I thought I could do better, or themes I could make more explicit. I’m very lucky to have had the opportunity to work with my editor at Feiwel, who was a wonderful guide, pointing out areas that were unclear, or poorly rendered, or could simply be made tighter.

 

The Cruelty is full of action, self development and growth, strength and change as well as perseverance, courage and loyalty, there is so much a reader can take out of this book. And I found many scene’s particularly realistic and touching.

Is there a particular scene you found the hardest to write or one that is perhaps your favourite?

 My favourite scenes are the ones that describe particular places, such as the warehouse in Berlin, or the secret police station. I stumbled upon these places in my travels purely by chance, before I ever knew they would be part of a story. They were so fascinating with their strange beauty and history that I couldn’t help but imagine the stories that might take place inside them.

We got to hear a lot about the incident in which Gwendolyn lost her mother, will we get to uncover any more mysteries surrounding how that event came to take place in the next book? Could she perhaps have been a spy as well?

Funny you should ask! While the actual incident in which Gwendolyn’s mother dies doesn’t play much of a role in the sequel, we do learn a lot more about her mother, and the context in which Gwen grew up. As for whether or not her mother had been a spy, too—well, let’s just say Gwen’s skills run in the family.

What can we expect to see in your forthcoming book The Greed?

The Greed, which will be coming out in February of 2018, picks up about a year after The Cruelty ends. We find Gwendolyn in a new country, with a new name, trying to wrestle with what it means to be a fugitive always looking over her shoulder. There’s a new adventure, set in a variety of countries, and Terrance comes back in a very big way. 

Lastly if there was one tip you could give aspiring authors, what would it be?

Here are two things I’ve learned from other writers far more experienced that I am. One: The more you write, the better you get, especially if you have critique partners whose opinions you take to heart. Two: Keep going. No matter what. Writing day after day, continuing to research agents and send off queries, even in the face of rejection after rejection—that takes persistence, and in my opinion, there’s no substitute for it.

Thanks for reading!

Scott & Ashleigh

Kingpin by Lili St. Germain

Title: Kingpin   Author: Lili St. Germain   Series: Cartel Trilogy   Genre: Adult, Crime/Thriller   Rating: Four Stars

WARNING – THIS REVIEW WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS SOZ GUYS.
I just need to vent my frustrations out on this one.

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Okay so if you read my first review on Book One Cartel you’ll be aware how much I liked Dornan. If you haven’t read my review of book one, do so now. Anyway, I gave the book a three stars. I kind of feel like I should have given that book more because I enjoyed the characters more in that book but it just didn’t have enough story line for me to justify a fourth star as much as it kills me. This book I can honestly say I disliked this book even more for many reasons which I am about to go into now BUT I have to admit to myself, despite my personal preferences, Kingpin just had a better plot than Cartel. There was just more drama, more risk and danger and a more realistic portrayal of cartel life. 

With that said, that is practically the only reason this book gets the fourth  star compared to book one. Now please don’t kill me because I know a lot of you love this series and Germain as an author but I’m totally going to just come out and say everything that I felt was wrong with this book and I’m sorry but there I loved.

Yes I know that is weird considering I gave the book a four but my rating is not based on personal preference its based on plot, description, suspense, character growth or purposeful lack there of in this case and of course the very realistic portrayal of how screwed up the cartel is.

OKAY. Here we go. My number one issue with this book is that we ended Cartel, book one, on such a sweet note. Dornan and Mariana were in love and full of passion and lust and everything else. Kingpin picks up TEN FREAKING YEARS LATER. I have a real issue with this, some of you may not, if you don’t please tell me why so I might try to overcome this issue which has been plaguing my dreams for a week. Because Germain for some crazy unknown reason decided to pick the story up ten years later we’ve miss Dornan and Mariana’s whole honeymoon stage. I was expecting more love and lust and passion and steamy sex scene’s with emotion in them in this book but NO. She’d been practically held prisoner for ten years while he came and went from his own private brothel whenever he pleased. WHAT THE HECK?

I haven’t done much research on this book so sorry if there was a legitimate reasoning for this decision but I just sat there on my lounge with the book in my hands and was like, what on earth just happened? Why is the story picking up from ten years later instead of right where we left off? You cannot seriously tell me that in ten years nothing happened that was worth mentioning in the second book? Yes, I know there were brief mentions throughout the book of things that occurred during those ten years but I feel it would have been more effective to have the second book be about Dornan and Mariana and how they avoided his father’s watchful eye and how she learnt to deal with her dramatic life changes and what the cartel did on a daily basis. Instead I was thrown a major curve ball that I was just not prepared for. 

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Okay, I liked his character in Cartel but I didn’t like it enough for me to want him to be her love interest. I was still drooling all over Dornan when I picked up this book so it was a sure slap in the face to read how Dornan was hardly ever around and only came and went when he wanted sex. Because the book took place ten years after I’d left off reading I also found that we did’t effectively get to see/read Dornan and Mariana’s gradual demise, their drifting apart. This could have been executed differently, over four books even so that this change was felt and conveyed better to the reader. It would have been so much better to show Mariana and Dornan slowly grow apart as he took on more in the cartel and she longed for the life that was stolen from her. Instead we were just told of how she/he felt and had to just accept the fact. This made the novel feel very disjointed to me as a reader and the change in situation was so sudden and jolting. Yes it was communicated effectively and defiantly came across realistic but because of the gap in time we just didn’t get to feel it as much as I would have liked.  

I will admit that it was great that we saw Mariana get some of her fire back. We were told how feisty she was in book one but watched as she was quickly and quietly tamed by Emilio and Dornan. I was glad to see she was taking charge a little more, sneakily planning an escape and stealing money.

The scene with Murphy was so freaking crazy and sooooo screwed up that I was flicking the pages on autopilot completely aghast. That was when I realized this book was not going to go the way I thought it would. From that scene onwards I knew we were leaving the erotica behind and taking on the crime, drugs and murder full time. Don’t get me wrong there was still plenty of sex but the story line took over this book unlike book one which I felt was more about lust and sex than anything else. That dear followers is why this book gets a four stars. Yes I don’t actually like it so much but I was actually reading a story this time with a proper plot not just erotica that was trying to catch on to a Fifty Shades of Grey craze and failing badly.

I think my favorite scene throughout this whole book would have to be when Mariana had called John asking for his help in getting rid of Murphy. When he helped her clean up the mess, dispose of the body and held her in the shower fully clothed while she broke down. That was an intense scene and the only scene that made me go, oh I love John. I need him in my life. It was real and raw and disturbing but mostly it was touching. The way she was in so much shock she couldn’t get her body to do what she wanted and how John had to carefully undress her.  His lust despite the disturbing situation and and her reaction, it all just came across natural, to want to find solace in each other. I loved this scene so much and way more than any normal person should. For goodness sake, she had the blood of a dead man on her and a corpse in her bedroom right behind them. 

I do believe this was a good book, its not a great book and not a series I would recommend to someone who was wanting a love story like I was. I begun this series thinking it was a love story, with erotica and danger but love trumping all. I was so shocked to find it otherwise and I think that may be another reason this series hasn’t rested well with me. I just wasn’t mentally prepared for what was to come and perhaps that was naive of me, I was reading a book about the cartel for goodness sake!

As normal I really could go on with more issues and more things that I love/hated but I think I’ve dragged on enough.

I also have a YouTube  channel if you’d like to check it out because of course, every little bit helps!

Thank you for reading!

Till next time,

xoxo Book Dragon Ash

Free the Darkness by Kel Kade

Title: Free the Darkness   Author: Kel Kade   Series: King’s Dark Tidings   Genre: YA, Fantasy   Rating: Five Stars

 

I’m so excited about this book. Because all my research about this book pointed to this being a self published title I was surprised to find that I liked it. Normally I find self published novels to be amateur both in plot and execution. Now I’ll admit I actually listened to this on Audible so I’m not sure about linking words, spelling and punctuation as the narrator did such a good job of conveying the story seamlessly. His many accents for each character and realistic narration made it easy for me to enjoy. 

I was hooked from the start. Kel Kade opens with a small back story and then immediately jumps into the action and that set up the bar for the rest of the novel. We were given snippets of information about the character at the start which was effective but also slightly annoying as I found that I wanted just a touch more. We hardly found out anything about Rezkin other than his relentless and rigorous training until perhaps one third of the way through the book. As such there wasn’t much character depth as I would normally like until further through the book. But this was countered by very realistic character flaws in the ‘perfect’ warrior. 

Kade made his protagonist perfect, trained since infancy to be a weapon and this was achieved by being raised in a fort with little to no outside influence so when Rezkin had to travel to what he refers to as the ‘out world’ he was taken aback by the differences. He had believed that every ‘little man’ was raised the same as him, learning ‘the rules’ of life and mastering his skills. He was in a sense naive about how out worlder’s live. I’ll give you two examples that I just loved I can’t quote as I don’t have a book to reflect on and it would just take too long for me to find the right spots but I’ll do my best to convey the scene.

  1. The little men and woman running around after a ball in a frenzy. He was sure they were not adhering to any of the rules. He was hesitant to turn his back on them not because he felt they were a threat but because they could fall into an unpredictable frenzy.

    I just couldn’t contain my giggles at this.

  2. He wasn’t sure who was in charge of allocating his friends but he was going to have to thank them for choosing so well in Tam and Frisha. (again no book to refer to so I’m not sure how to spell names.) and again, he was going to have to talk with Frisha who he believed was the head of his friends to see if Jimson could be counted as a friend also.

    I just adored this. Despite being unbeatable these are just two of the examples that Kade dropped into the story that made Rezkin relatable and vulnerable.

There was so much action in this book and so many secrets that I think I kept reading/listening to see if the next page would reveal the mystery. 

I think Rezkin was a great character, yes he’s perhaps too infallible but I really didn’t mind that. Look at Sarah J. Maas and her Throne of Glass series, Celaena is very much the same the only difference between the two for me is their genders.

The one thing that I perhaps should have deducted a point off for was that every woman did swoon perhaps a little to much over Rezkin. We know he’s unusually handsome but I doubt that every woman would be so weak as to throw themselves at him all the time. I’m not exaggerating, every female in the story was literally offering sex except perhaps Frisha.

Speaking of Frisha, I like her but I think she’s portrayed a little bratty for a commoner. She is prone to throwing tantrums and making issues out of things and she does so publicly instead of behind closed doors. But I do like how honest she is and her brotherly relationship with Tam is nice.

There are still so many questions left unanswered in this novel that I know I’ll just have to read on. I WANT TO KNOW WHAT ON EARTH IS HAPPENING.

I really do believe this story has the potential to be more than a three book trilogy and I don’t think anyone would mind that!

That’s about as much as I can write about this without going into spoiler territory.

 

If you did enjoy this review, please do remember to give it a star and don’t forget to hit follow if you’d like to keep updated for when I post new rambling blogs!

I also have a YouTube  channel if you’d like to check it out because of course, every little bit helps!

Thank you for reading!

Till next time,

xoxo Book Dragon Ash

 

 

 

 

Warrior Witch by Danielle L Jensen

Title: Warrior Witch   Author: Danielle L Jensen   Series: The Malediction Trilogy   Genre: YA, Fantasy   Rating: Four Stars

Oh my, my heart is a sobby mess.

Firstly, I really don’t know why this series is called The Malediction Trilogy. Where did Malediction come from? Have I missed some crucial piece of information? I would have thought this series would be named Trollus Chronicles or Witch Trials or something. Can someone explain this for me?

three coversAside from my complete lack of knowledge on the name of the series, I really love these books. I’ve been hooked since book one where I was completely taken aback, if you read my review on Stolen Songbird you’ll know that the cover had me on edge, whoever thought these were good covers needs a wallop. I’ve never seen a more ugly covered series in all my life. BUT I am definitely a big fan of Danielle  Jensen. I love the depth of characters and the world that’s been created and the scheming by god the scheming. There is so much plotting and planning from so many sides happening in this novel!

There were so many touching moments in this novel I found my heart being wrenched from my chest and then put back in haphazardly with a band-aid so many times. I’ll admit, I find that Tristan and Cecile annoy me most of the time, I love them together and am definitely on their team but by god they are awfully stubborn and  quite often annoying. I actually liked Tristan more than Cecile in this book. Cecile was a little bit silly at times and a touch rude here or there. I found Tristan was more dedicated and loyal and  felt the reality and pressures of what was occurring more than Cecile did.

Now there are two reasons this book was given four stars.

The first reason I deducted half a star was because I noticed a handful of spelling errors or missing words like ‘if’, ‘do’ or ‘it’. Joining words. It really threw me and ruined the spell the rest of the book had put me under. I found this was the same thing I noticed in the other book I read recently, The Queen of Blood and I honestly don’t believe that in this day and age it should be happening. The other book was an award winning published author of ten other titles, this book is not however, so many qualified editors work on these manuscripts and with word showing you most of your errors and then having a professional work on this for months with you I just don’t think more than one or two errors is acceptable.

The second reason I deducted half a star was because I had a few to many issues with Cecile as a character in this book. There were a few scene’s I was cringing in and as I mentioned above I found Tristan’s character more noble and smart than I did Cecile’s.

Perhaps I’m being a touch unfair with my next comments but hey, there was one other reason I rated this four and not five stars. I didn’t like the ending. *bring on the angry mob* I know that I am a minority here, most of the people I’ve talked to or read reviews from have loved the sobby, tear jerking ending and honestly, it was executed so well. I It was so real I found myself crying and heartbroken but I also found myself cursing and swearing at the injustices of it.   It was touching and realistic, you can’t win every war right? But the reason I didn’t like it is because 30 years, 30 YEARS passed and yes they found a way to be together in the end but Tristan who I liked more than Cecile missed out on so bloody much. The only reason Cecile was able to go into the Fey domain was because of their bond. Their son will never make it over to them. I hate knowing that even though it wasn’t suggested in the slightest my mind jumped to their son who will never have a relationship with his father.

If you did enjoy this review, please do remember to give it a star and don’t forget to hit follow if you’d like to keep updated for when I post new rambling blogs!

I also have a YouTube  channel if you’d like to check it out because of course, every little bit helps!

Thank you for reading!

Till next time,

xoxo Book Dragon Ash

 

The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst

Title: The Queen of Blood   Author: Sarah Beth Durst   Genre: YA, Fantasy   Rating: Four Stars

Disclaimer : This review has been sponsored by HarperCollins Publishers however I would like you to know that everything I mention in my review is my genuine opinion. This review has been in no way influenced by other sources.

Thank you HarperCollins for your support.

This will be a spoiler free review!

Well this was certainly an original story. We’ve used and abused every fae, fey, vampire, werewolf thing to the point of no return so I was relieved when I read this to find a totally original concept. I really enjoyed reading this book but had a few key issues with it. I’m still debating my rating, should it be a three or a four but I’ll stick to my four and I’ll tell you why at the end. 

This book is so unique. The concepts and world that Sarah Beth Durst has created is unlike anything I’ve read lately and I love that. I’ve read a lot of the Fae books lately and I’m getting a little tired of them. This is something different all together. Spirits verses humans. I love how both parties were in some way submissive or controlled by power or fear by the other, it created an intriguing society that I craved to know more about. 

The world that Durst has created is really mind blowing, it’s described so thoroughly that you van visually imagine the villages high in the trees, sunlight pouring through the branches, people walking along wooden bridges to get to other wooden villages. I loved it. This is the kind of setting that would look amazing in a movie, its magical, scary, detailed and realistic.

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I’m also used to a very prominent love story and that did not occur in this book and surprisingly I didn’t really mind. It made the situations and goals within the characters stand out more than the love story and usually the love story is the issue, how do the protagonists find each other again? Well our main character Daleina was all about self development and growth and her love interest was there but it was at sidelines while the main story followed her trials to achieve her goals.

I wasn’t sure how to feel about how many years were jumped or skipped in this book. I’ve seen it done on occasion but not as drastically as in this book. It wasn’t done in a way that made you feel scattered or disordered but it was big enough for me to sit there and think, really? Nothing of interest happened within five years that was worth noting more than a paragraph? That was what knocked off half a star for me.

The other point that made me knock off another half star was the amount of spelling or grammatical errors I noticed while reading. Now, I’m not perfect when it comes to grammar, I’ve been known to get my quite and quiet mixed up among many other things but in a professionally published book this should not be happening. At least not more than once or twice for my liking. I noticed at least five errors if not more. I wish I’d been a good blogger and noted these down but I didn’t. Sentences were missing the joining words in many places, it wasn’t the spelling or punctuation it was joining words that make the sentence make sense. 

Before I got started on this book I made sure to read a few reviews from other book lovers and bloggers to see what they thought about this book, everyone has said much of the same comments, the world, the spirits, the characters, the plot was all interesting or whatever, but I’m highly surprised that no one else has made a point of outlining this key issue so far. There were so many times it happened that it jarred me out of the story. Each time I was deeply in the world of Aratay and thrown back into the world of the living. For an ‘award winning author’ as it says on her bio, I really don’t think its acceptable.

Now I didn’t deduct a star for this because it’s not actually part of the book itself but rather the direction of the series. Perhaps I should include it in my rating or perhaps I shouldn’t I really don’t know. Drust has released the name, cover and synopsis of the next book in this series, The Reluctant Queen, my issue is that this book doesn’t follow Daleina right after the coronation. It doesn’t look like it’ll touch on Merecot becoming Queen and how Daleina and her could become enemies or allies. I won’t go into what the second book is about though you can find the information on Durst’s webpage. I’m sure the second book will be great but I’m just disappointed that it seems like it won’t be covering Daleina as much as I feel it should. There is so much left to explore for Daleina than Durst is covering and that is disappointing. 

If you did enjoy this review, please do remember to give it a star and don’t forget to hit follow if you’d like to keep updated for when I post new rambling blogs!

I also have a YouTube  channel if you’d like to check it out because of course, every little bit helps!

Thank you for reading!

Till next time,

xoxo Book Dragon Ash

The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom

Title: The Cruelty   Author: Scott Bergstrom   Genre: Ya, Fiction, Crime   Rating: Four Stars

 

WARNING – This review will contain spoilers. I just couldn’t help myself, I need to get this all off my chest!

Disclaimer : This review has been sponsored by Walker Books Australia however I would like you to know that everything I mention in my review is my genuine opinion. This review has been in no way influenced by other sources.

Thank you Walker for supporting me and allowing me to review this book for you, I am greatly humbled.

I need to start off by saying congratulations! Scott Bergstrom has outdone himself, despite this novel being his debut it is by no means elementary in writing style, technique and plot.

I’ll admit I was a little tentative when I began reading The Cruelty not just because it was a debut novel but because – ready for it, here comes the confessions – I’ve never really read a YA criminal/detective fiction book before. I also noticed something quite shocking right before I started The Cruelty. With all the hundreds of books I’ve read I’ve always somehow, unknowingly, read female authored books. I was so shocked when I noticed this and I’m hoping its just that the genre I read more of is predominantly female but with that knowledge in mind I was so excited to give this book a good hard go, and lucky for me this book completely surpassed all my expectations! 

If you’ve been a follower for a while you will know I always judge a book by its cover, please forgive me for this minor imperfection of mine, but hey, a good cover needs to accurately represent the elements within the book otherwise, whats the point? I love this cover, it is so simple and completely individual and so very effective. So if you haven’t read this book and want to know more about it, look at the cover. That’ll give you a pretty good gist of what you’re getting yourself into!

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The publication opens with a simple quote which I find quite relevant and personally I think is so beautifully honest. You may take this as you will because there are numerous ways to interpret it. And I love that.

“Part of the reason for the ugliness of adults,
in a child’s eyes, is that the child is usually
looking upwards, and a few faces are at their
best when seen from below.”
George Orwell.

If you’ve now looked at the cover of the book you’ll know that this story follows “A girl, A daughter, An assassin” and her name is Gwendolyn. I loved Gwendolyn’s character, at first I wasn’t so sure, she seemed a little distant and cold but when I read past that and found out more about her character I realized she is just misunderstood and feels alienated, this is due to her father’s occupation and the constant moving all throughout her childhood. I’ve read a few other blogger’s reviews and the general consensus was that Gwendolyn was  cold and unrelatable but I have to strongly disagree. Her relationships with those around her like Bela and Lili as well as her father are proof that she is caring and loving, hell even throw in Aunt Georgina and Yael. What I also love is that she was undeniably loyal, it takes a strong person to decide to take on the world to find your father and an even stronger one to do it on your own. I love a good strong main character, it means that there is never a dull moment and they can usually do what needs to be done instead of what is considered the ‘proper’ way to do things. 

When Gwendolyn became Sofia, Bergstrom had me almost forgetting that Gwendolyn and Sofia were one and the same. She took on her fake identity without flaw and just when you might forget that Sofia was Gwendolyn there was a tiny reminder dropped there like her struggling to hold her Russian accent in place. 

There was so much action going on in this book it was unbelievable. Every page you turned there was a new piece of information, some action or connection being made and I found myself unable to look away from the pages. This was not what I refer to as a ‘three peak plot’, I’ve noticed that many new authors might use this layout for their story lines, it gives you a generic plot and makes the spaces in between peaks rather dull.

Now there is only two reasons I gave this book a four instead of a five stars and its not for anything major, it’s purely personal preference.

The first is that I loved Christian and didn’t really get the chance to like Terrance.

I felt like the main scene’s between Terrance and Gwendolyn were a little bit dreamlike in their details. They came across very airy and cloudy both in feeling and description. Perhaps that was the intention but for me to feel the depth that the main character did I needed a little more suspense or build up of emotion. I didn’t feel like there was enough time to develop that deep a connection between them. I thought they would make better best friends than love interests but my opinion is also biased because I adored Christian. (A fatal flaw on my part, I should know better than to like the bad ones!)

I thought that Christian and Gwendolyn could have made such a great team together and their scene’s were so natural and adorable so I genuinely thought that he might discover her secret and perhaps help her. I was a little disappointed in the way Gwendolyn treated him in the end, their last scene together was so emotional I really didn’t know which one of them to feel sorry for more. Christian had stood up for her, taken two rough beatings for her and was still apologizing to her like it was him and not her that was causing the problems. He was still part of a rough gang but somehow he didn’t loose a touch his masculinity when he was being sweet and caring. My favorite part of this book was when Christian realized that Sofia was a spy and “A tear forms at the corner of his left eye and breaks loose, running down his temple to his ear”page 245. I  think I cried with him then. I cried for the girl Gwendolyn used to be and for the one she was becoming, I cried for him and all the beatings he’d taken for her and how he just happened to get caught up in it all. I never believe it when an author tells you that a character has died and you don’t get to see/read it, so I’m secretly hoping Bergstrom will surprise me and give him back to me.

The second reason I gave this a four instead of a five is something so small I feel really silly mentioning it! But here we go – Paulus had given Gwendolyn’s father over to Kladivo so when Paulus discovered Sofia was a spy and put two and two together assuming that Sofia was Gwendolyn I thought it was really odd that he didn’t give Kladivo a heads up to expect trouble. He knew if Sofia was Gwendolyn, she would be going after Kladivo for vengeance. Why didn’t he call? Perhaps he didn’t truly know and was just guessing, perhaps I’ll find out why in book two, in which case you can expect me to amend my rating!

I’ve barely covered the action scene’s in this review because there is so much but I feel like I need to mention them briefly. I loved it when Yael was teaching Gwendolyn how to fight, Yael’s character was so interesting. Side note – I totally knew she had been in love with Gwendolyn’s father as soon as she mentioned a spy working from another country so I loved the bond that her and Gwendolyn forged. Anyway back to the action scenes, woah. Where do I even start? There are so many scene’s, so much detail in each action that I felt like I knew how to fight the bad guys but the scene’s I’m going to bring up is the final few. I knew Gwendolyn had hardened up and become the cruelty she had endured but I was so taken aback when she was on the weapons haul, learning how to drive the truck with Emil and decided that she was going to ruin them all right then and there. I’d known it had to be coming but I wasn’t expecting it right at that moment so when she shot Emil in the head I was holding my breath, waiting, waiting for the moment she got caught. But when she tricked all of the men into the truck I was sitting in bed jumping, cheering for Gwendolyn. I had no idea she’d taken an RPG or grenade or whatever it was. She just blew them to bits. WHAT. I wasn’t sure if I’d misread her intentions and went back and read through it again and I wasn’t wrong, she totally just killed another five men by simply throwing a grenade at a truck full of hundreds of explosives. She’d just gone from kick-ass to bad-ass in an instant but wait there was more. I knew she had more in stock for Kladivo and Roman the moment she crashed the auction. I was waiting for the moment to strike but again Bergstrom had surprised me and done the unexpected. There was not one single shot fired, no kicking or punching like I’d been hungrily waiting for. She simply got them drunk and unawares and poisoned them. That was it, she didn’t get caught, no one even suspected her. That scene right there was so satisfying because she won, Kladivo and Roman had been so secure in their position that they never expected a woman to be the ruin of them and it was perfect. I drank in each and every word of that scene up like it was vodka.

If you did enjoy this review, please do remember to give it a star and don’t forget to hit follow if you’d like to keep updated for when I post new rambling blogs!

I also have a YouTube  channel if you’d like to check it out because of course, every little bit helps!

Thank you for reading!

Till next time,

xoxo Book Dragon Ash

Hidden Huntress by Danielle L. Jensen

Title : Hidden Huntress  Author : Danielle L. Jensen  Series : The Malediction Trilogy  Genre : YA, Fantasy  Rating : Five Stars

WARNING – This review will contain spoilers!

Someone throw a bucket of water on me.

If you read my review on book one, Stolen Songbird you’ll be well aware of how much I enjoyed the first edition of this trilogy. The one and only fault I found was how passive Cecile was when being marched down the aisle to marry a complete stranger surrounded by ‘monsters’ or trolls but somehow that one flaw didn’t really bother me because I still really enjoyed that scene and I didn’t find it unrealistic. That was the only minor flaw I could find in the first book, I could nitpick for days and not find anything else that bothered me. That’s why I rated book one a four stars, book two however receives five stars and let me tell you why. I’m going to dot point them 1-5 (or 6 lol) below to make it nice and simple! 

palais-garnier-stage

  1. Danielle L. Jensen wrote Cecile an out, gave her the option to forget the mountain and everything beneath it. Cecile had the opportunity to walk away from it all but she stayed true to her character and somehow maintained her loyalty to both her human friends and troll alike and I loved that. I really enjoyed seeing her become stronger as a character and because the majority of the last book was situated under the mountain it was a nice change to see more of her home and family. She was persistent and determined all throughout and I loved seeing her loyalty and dedication to Tristan as well as everyone else. Her character was just that much stronger but her strength wasn’t unrealistically exaggerated like it often is in books, her strength had limits, required learning and skill.

  2. We were shown more of Cecile’s friendships and relationships with her family and friends and each of these relationships and people were distinctly different from the last. They were very real in their mannerisms and reactions, each of their characters were unique. Her sister shocked me when she first met Tristan with her bravery and brutal honesty. I found their meeting wholly natural, their caution but willingness to accept each other once all that needed saying was said. Chris was really adorable in this book and I felt slightly sorry for him, we found out through Tristan in book one that Chris might have feelings for Cecile and his promise to protect Cecile may have been made because of this but I was glad to see he was not a jealous prick but rather a loyal friend. Sabine was a shock to my system at first, she was portrayed as more delicate friend in book one, her fear of riding etc but she did overcome that to search for Cecile, so I guess I should have seen it coming. Her character was just so much more stronger than I was expecting so her coldness towards Tristan came as a surprise. But it was nice to see them grow to trust each other and work together for Cecile. 
  3. I have to mention before going any further – Cecile’s relationship with her mother was so intriguing. I’ll admit, I didn’t like her from the moment we met her, there was something ‘wrong’ with how cold and self centred she was but somehow Cecile hardly knew her and could acknowledge these flaws but loved her anyway. We’d been told that her mother was an elusive figure in her life but we weren’t given any reasons why. So in this book we got to delve into this further, there were so many little hints all throughout the book about what was happening but we never actually got to put it together until the end! Unless you were smarter than me because I knew something was sus but I totally didn’t put that final plot twist together until the end. I was blown away by the scheming and the absolute evil that was still in Anushka to be able to commit the acts she was committing. From the moment she drugged Cecile I knew there was more to her than we were being told I just couldn’t figure out where she fit. I originally thought that Anushka and Cecile’s mother were in league with each other but no way did I expect them to be one and the same person. It’s actually quite sad if you think about it, Cecile’s mother was murdered and her life stolen by the very same person who pretended to be her mother for years and the very same thing had happened to her mother and on it went for five hundred years! You could imagine my joy when she was beaten at her own game!

  4. Tristan and Cecile ended things on such a tender and emotional peak in book one and I’d known we’d see more of them apart than together in this book so I wasn’t looking forward to this instalment as much (I hate separations, I get all emotional!) I always flick the pages desperately waiting for them to come together again. I pine the whole book for that moment, hanging for them to be together again. But I must admit that it was great that we still got to feel that connection between them through the bond they share but I was left so disappointed when they finally found a way to be together again. Like Tristan, what?! She just set you free, you’ve just seen the sun for the first time and you didn’t kiss her? You didn’t even thank her. ARE YOU INSANE? I don’t know if you noticed but I got a little cranky at him there. It was annoying that every time they took one step forward together they took ten backwards and I found their distance after such an emotional separation in book one was a little odd to me. I know it was explained and was, I guess understandable, I just felt like it was silly. They weren’t appreciating the little wins and the fact that they were together when reality had been they’d struggle to see each other again.

    On a side note – I loved seeing them work a different society together, under the mountain they were unable to ‘be together’ in public because of the human stigma the trolls have. So it was refreshing to see Tristan learn to work through this human society and see both Cecile and Tristan navigating the social upper class together and scheming together this time around.

  5. The whole plot for this book was interesting. How had Anushka managed to live way past the normal moral lifespan? How were the Regent’s able to hide their intentions to help the trolls enemy when they’d promised the trolls to help find her? So many questions and so many hints, just enough to tickle at the back of your brain but not enough to have you knowing before Jensen wanted you too. I really enjoyed the whole twist this instalment gave the reader, book one was very beauty and the beast to me but book two surprised me. It was a whole other ball game.
  6.  Now I’m adding a sixth thing. I just cannot ignore this scene. The sex scene. Okay I’ll admit, I loved it. I personally don’t mind when an author has the guts to give you a sultry scene, in fact I LOVE IT. Cecile and Tristan’s scene was so natural and beautiful in its simplicity. In book one when we saw Cecile and Tristan have a passion filled moment on the boat I got really excited because that was the moment I realised that Jensen was not shy about the sex stuff. I think YA tip toes around it too much when reality is we’re mainly a teen/adult audience so probably want more of it! So in Hidden Huntress when we finally got the sex scene I was legit jumping and squealing with delight and I just love how it happened. Sharing their scars and opening up to one another finally.

Wow, I’ve gone on for ages on this review! Honestly, I know I’ll remember something else I wanted to mention in my review but for now those are my jambled thoughts on this amazing book.

I’m impatiently waiting for the third and final book Warrior Witch to arrive on my doorstep before I go to Hong Kong. I’ve got a 10 hour flight and I’m fully prepared to read it in one sitting!!

I can’t wait to see what they come up against now that the trolls are free and all the monsters with them. Bring on book three!!

If you did enjoy this review, please do remember to give it a star and don’t forget to hit follow if you’d like to keep updated for when I post new rambling blogs!

I also have a YouTube  channel if you’d like to check it out because of course, every little bit helps!

Thank you for reading!

Till next time,

 
xoxo Book Dragon Ash