Tuesday, July 30, 2019

#ARCREVIEW: Temptation By Inara Scott (Bad Angels #2) #Contemporaryromance

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Temptation by Inara Scott
Publisher: Entangled Publishing: Amara
Release Date: August 26th, 2019
Format: egalley*
My Rating: 
GoodReads ★ Amazon ★ B&N 
As close friends and coworkers, attorney Zoe Riva and tech genius Connor Ashton know they can never get involved. 
Never. 

Ever. 

Until a scooter accident lands Zoe in Connor's arms—and his overnight custody—and she starts to see a man she's never seen before. With her career and her heart on the line, Zoe can't afford to take any chances. But when combustible chemistry takes over, even the smartest people in the room can make the biggest of mistakes

Inara Scott is a new to me author, and I didn't read the first book in this series, but I feel like you didn't really need to. The couple in that book do appear in this one, so I might go back and read their book at a later date. This book focuses on Zoe and Connor, good friends who have hidden how they feel about each other because of the complicated nature of Zoe being one of lawyers for his company. If you like both friends to lovers and forbidden romances, this one might be for you.

Monday, July 29, 2019

#AUDIOBOOKREVIEW: Lethal White by Robert Galbraith (Cormoran Strike #4) #beatthebacklistchallenge

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Lethal White by Robert Galbraith
Publisher: Audible Audio
Release Date: August 12th, 2019
Format: Audiobook narrated by Robert Glenister
My Rating: ★ 1/2
GoodReads ★ Amazon ★ B&N TBD
“I seen a kid killed…He strangled it, up by the horse.”
When Billy, a troubled young man, comes to private eye Cormoran Strike’s office to ask for his help investigating a crime he thinks he witnessed as a child, Strike is left deeply unsettled. While Billy is obviously mentally distressed, and cannot remember many concrete details, there is something sincere about him and his story. But before Strike can question him further, Billy bolts from his office in a panic.
Trying to get to the bottom of Billy’s story, Strike and Robin Ellacott—once his assistant, now a partner in the agency—set off on a twisting trail that leads them through the backstreets of London, into a secretive inner sanctum within Parliament, and to a beautiful but sinister manor house deep in the countryside.
And during this labyrinthine investigation, Strike’s own life is far from straightforward: his newfound fame as a private eye means he can no longer operate behind the scenes as he once did. Plus, his relationship with his former assistant is more fraught than it ever has been—Robin is now invaluable to Strike in the business, but their personal relationship is much, much trickier than that.
Oh, boy, I was really excited for this one having loved the other three ones in the series, but this was kind of a miss for me. First of all, I'm am over the Strike/Robin will they won't they and I really couldn't stand Mathew at all. Like why even include that in this novel? I also felt like the whole relationship drama stuff made the book 2x longer and it really didn't need to be! I like Strike and Robin as friends and partners in terms of the agency, but I didn't really care one way or the other now if they get together. I'm kind of over it.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

#ARCREVIEW: The Girl The Sea Gave Back By Adrienne Young

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The Girl The Sea Gave Back
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: September 3rd, 2019
Format: egalley*
My Rating: ★ 1/2
GoodReads ★ Amazon ★ B&N TBD
The new gut-wrenching epic from the New York Times bestselling author of Sky in the Deep.

For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse.

For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when their chieftain looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again—a home.
 
The Girl the Sea Gave Back, is not a bad book by any means, but after loving Adrienne Young's Sky in The Deep, this one just didn't grab me the same way. Not sure if it's just a mood read, but it took me a really long time to get into this one. 

Friday, July 26, 2019

#REVIEW: The Risk (Briar U # 2) by Elle Kennedy #newadult #hockeyromance

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The Risk By Elle Kennedy
Publisher: Elle Kennedy
Release Date: February 18th, 2019
Format: kindle
My Rating: 

GoodReads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD
A sexy standalone novel from New York Times and international bestselling author Elle Kennedy. THE RISK takes you back to the world of hot hockey players, feisty heroines, bro banter, and steamy scenes...  
Everyone says I’m a bad girl. They’re only partly right—I don’t let fear rule me, and I certainly don’t care what people think. But I draw the line at sleeping with the enemy. As the daughter of Briar’s head hockey coach, I’d be vilified if I hooked up with a player from a rival team. 
And that’s who Jake Connelly is. Harvard’s star forward is arrogant, annoying, and too attractive for his own good. But fate is cruel—I require his help to secure a much-coveted internship, and the sexy jerk isn’t making it easy for me. 
I need Connelly to be my fake boyfriend. 
For every fake date…he wants a real one. 
Which means this bad girl is in big trouble. Nothing good can come from sneaking around with Jake Connelly. My father would kill me, my friends will revolt, and my post-college career is on the line. But while it’s getting harder and harder to resist Jake’s oozing sex appeal and cocky grin, I refuse to fall for him.
That’s the one risk I’m not willing to take. 
I have to say, I think this is hands down my favorite book from Elle Kennedy's new adult college hockey series. I even liked it better than The Deal! I think part of that is because Brenna is kind of my soul sister, in that she's a sarcastic asshole and she never lets people see the real her. I loved the concept that she wears red lipstick not because it's her trademark, but because it's "her armor". Oh, honey!

Thursday, July 25, 2019

#REVIEW: The Chase (Briar U, #1) By Elle Kennedy #hockeyromances #newadult

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The Chase by Elle Kennedy
Publisher: Elle Kennedy
Release Date: August 4th, 2019
Format: kindle
My Rating: 
GoodReads ★ Amazon ★ B&N 
A sexy standalone novel from New York Times and international bestselling author Elle Kennedy 
Everyone says opposites attract. And they must be right, because there’s no logical reason why I’m so drawn to Colin Fitzgerald. I don’t usually go for tattoo-covered, video-gaming, hockey-playing nerd-jocks who think I’m flighty and superficial. His narrow view of me is the first strike against him. It doesn’t help that he’s buddy-buddy with my brother. 
And that his best friend has a crush on me. 
And that I just moved in with them.  
Oh, did I not mention we’re roommates?  
I suppose it doesn’t matter. Fitzy has made it clear he’s not interested in me, even though the sparks between us are liable to burn our house down. I’m not the kind of girl who chases after a man, though, and I’m not about to start. I’ve got my hands full dealing with a new school, a sleazy professor, and an uncertain future. So if my sexy brooding roomie wises up and realizes what he’s missing?  
He knows where to find me.
I devoured Elle Kennedy's Off-Campus series, so of course when I saw she had a spin-off series Briar U, I downloaded both books immediately and read them back to back in two days flat! I adore this Ivy League college and all the hockey players on the team. I was so prepared to not really like Summer, because she seems like so bubbly and excitable and just not the type of girl I would be friends with. But Summer also has a really good heart and she sees the best in everyone and seeing her struggle with her learning disability just broke my heart. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

#ARCREVIEW: The Best Friend Problem by Mariah Ankenman

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The Best Friend Problem by Mariah Ankenman
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Release Date: August 12th, 2019
Format: egalley*
My Rating: 
GoodReads ★ Amazon ★ B&N 
Prudence Carlson has been lucky in life. A fulfilling wedding-planning business run with her girlfriends in Colorado, plus the best guy friend ever in her firefighter bestie Finn. All that’s missing from it is a baby. Luckily, it’s the twenty-first century—Pru can take matters into her own hands. She doesn’t need to find true love to create the future love of her life.
Except all this talk of babies and insemination and...Pru and Finn cross a line they never expected to. Sure, one night of passion won’t change their close friendship. Until Pru goes in for a fertility check-up to find… she’s already pregnant.  
As best friends, Pru and Finn have survived college, new jobs, and bad breakups, but can they survive crib shopping, birth classes, and late-night cravings? Especially when Finn has never considered himself even remotely Daddy material?
Accidental pregnancies aren't my favorite thing in romance books, but I don't mind it. I don't read a lot of best-friends to lovers, which I do enjoy, I just don't end up reading them a lot, so I was very interested in this book.

Monday, July 22, 2019

#ARCREVIEW: Announcing Trouble by Amy Fellner Dominy #baseball #sportsromance

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Happy Reads Everyone!
Announcing Trouble by Amy Fellner Dominy
Publisher: Entangled Crush
Release Date: August 5th, 2019
Format: egalley*
My Rating: 
GoodReads ★ Amazon ★ B&N 
I may know everything there is to know about baseball, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. Or like him. Garrett Reeves: sidelined player and the embodiment of everything I’ve learned to hate about baseball. He’s gorgeous, he’s cocky, he’s laser-focused on getting back in the game, no matter the cost.
When he convinces me to call games alongside him, our chemistry heats up the booth. We’re good together, whether I want to admit it or not. I’m finding that I like baseball again, but even worse, I’m liking Garrett. A lot.
But when he has to decide between our future and a new shot at his dreams, I know baseball will win out every time. 
Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book has tons of hilarious banter, lots of sexual tension, and a hero who will throw a wild pitch right at your heart.

Books that have to do with sports are kind of my jam, so it was fun diving back into the young adult world with this contemporary romance from Amy Fellner Dominy. Also, it's the perfect time of year to read a book about baseball! Even though, I'm sorry this sport is so boring to me still! Sorry, I'm not sorry. 

Sunday, July 21, 2019

#REVIEW: The Goal By Elle Kennedy (Off-Campus #4)

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The Goal by Elle Kennedy
Publisher: Elle Kennedy
Release Date: September 26th, 2016
Format: Kindle
My Rating: ★ 
GoodReads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD
She’s good at achieving her goals…
College senior Sabrina James has her whole future planned out: graduate from college, kick butt in law school, and land a high-paying job at a cutthroat firm. Her path to escaping her shameful past certainly doesn’t include a gorgeous hockey player who believes in love at first sight. One night of sizzling heat and surprising tenderness is all she’s willing to give John Tucker, but sometimes, one night is all it takes for your entire life to change.
But the game just got a whole lot more complicated...
Tucker believes being a team player is as important as being the star. On the ice, he’s fine staying out of the spotlight, but when it comes to becoming a daddy at the age of twenty-two, he refuses to be a bench warmer. It doesn’t hurt that the soon-to-be mother of his child is beautiful, whip-smart, and keeps him on his toes. The problem is, Sabrina’s heart is locked up tight, and the fiery brunette is too stubborn to accept his help. If he wants a life with the woman of his dreams, he’ll have to convince her that some goals can only be made with an assist.

This one is a hard review for me to write, because I LOVE Tucker from the other novels, but his story is really heavy and angsty. I really felt for him, because although he has some fun sexy times with his lady, it ends in an unplanned pregnancy and she really holds him at arms length for like no reason at all. That's not really a spoiler, because if you read the third book you know what happens with them, and the summary basically tells you. However, it took FOREVER just to get to this point.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

#REVIEW: The Score by Elle Kennedy (Off-Campus #3)

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The Score By Elle Kennedy
Publisher: Elle Kennedy
Release Date: January 11th, 2016
Format: Kindle
My Rating: ★ 1/2
GoodReads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD

He knows how to score, on and off the ice
Allie Hayes is in crisis mode. With graduation looming, she still doesn’t have the first clue about what she's going to do after college. To make matters worse, she’s nursing a broken heart thanks to the end of her longtime relationship. Wild rebound sex is definitely not the solution to her problems, but gorgeous hockey star Dean Di Laurentis is impossible to resist. Just once, though, because even if her future is uncertain, it sure as heck won’t include the king of one-night stands.
It’ll take more than flashy moves to win her over
Dean always gets what he wants. Girls, grades, girls, recognition, girls…he’s a ladies man, all right, and he’s yet to meet a woman who’s immune to his charms. Until Allie. For one night, the feisty blonde rocked his entire world—and now she wants to be friends? Nope. It’s not over until he says it’s over. Dean is in full-on pursuit, but when life-rocking changes strike, he starts to wonder if maybe it’s time to stop focusing on scoring…and shoot for love. 

I wasn't sure if I was going to like this one, because of all the dudes in the Hastings house, Dean was my least favorite. To be blunt, he's kind of a fuckboy, but he never claims not to be. At least he is honest! When the book starts out and Allie needs a place to go to hide from her ex, I soooo knew what was going to happen. It was interesting to watch Dean and Allie get together, even if they are only claiming it to be casual and are keeping it from their friends. There's definitely a lot of sexy times all around in this book.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

#REVIEW: Superfan by Sarina Bowen (Brooklyn Bruiser #6)

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Superfan by Sarina Bowen
Publisher: Tuxbury Publishing
Release Date: June 25th, 2019
Format: kindle
My Rating: 

GoodReads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD


A new standalone novel in the Brooklyn Bruisers world!
Sometimes lady luck shakes your hand, and sometimes she smacks your face. Sometimes she does both on the same day.
Three years ago I met the most amazing girl in the world. We were both down on our luck. Then I got that call—the one that tells you to get your buns on a plane to go meet your destiny.
But the girl was left behind. I didn’t have her phone number, and she didn’t know my real name.
While I became a professional hockey player, she became a superstar, with platinum records and legions of fans. And a slick, music producer boyfriend who treated her badly.
But fate wasn’t done with us yet. When Delilah turns up at a hockey game, I can’t resist making contact. The internet swoons when I ask her out on a date.
She might not remember me. But her jerkface ex does. He’ll do anything to keep us apart. 
Good thing athletes never give up. This time I’m playing for keeps.

Silas shows up in the first book in this series Rookie Move, he's a rookie that ends up completely messing up in net and he disappears back into the minors until I think Pipe Dreams where Mike Beacon mentors him a bit. Silas is like the best dude every, especially in the previous book Overnight Sensation, so I was super pumped to read his book. Like I swear he was a sweet baby angel, but we find out in this book that day-um...Silas spits some mad game.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

#REVIEW: Overnight Sensation (Brooklyn Bruisers #5) by Sarina Bowen #hockeyromance

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Overnight Sensation By Sarina Bowen
Publisher: Tuxbury Publishing
Release Date: January 22nd, 2019
Format: kindle book
My Rating: ★1/2
GoodReads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD
Everyone knows the girl is off limits. But it's so good to be bad.


There's this girl...Heidi and I have been trading hungry looks all year, and everything she does makes me smile. But I don't do girlfriends, and I certainly can't get involved with the league commissioner's daughter. I need shots on goal, not a hookup and a widely misunderstood paparazzi photo.Can I resist her, though? The way she teases me should be a game penalty for interference with my libido. 

There's this guy...Jason wants me, but he won't admit it. That man looks at me the way a hockey player eyes the lunch buffet after practice--and I love it. But when victory is finally within my grasp, I blow it and humiliate myself. Even then I can't even avoid him--as the team intern, I'm in constant view of his hard body and cocky smile. I need another chance. Jason Castro is about to learn the true meaning of an overnight sensation. 
Overnight Sensation is definitely my second favorite of Sarina Bowen's books set in the Brooklyn Bruisers hockey world. I LOVED Jason Castro's appearances in the other books, so I was glad to finally read his book. I just love a forbidden romance, especially with men who are closed off. I think I am revealing a little too much about myself here, but oh well.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

#ARCREVIEW: The Norse Protector by Leigh Ann Edwards #norse #fantasy

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The Norse Protector By Leigh Ann Edwards
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Release Date: July 30th, 2019
Format: egalley*
My Rating: ★ 1/2
GoodReads ★ Amazon ★ B&N 
She learns the ways of the fiercely loyal, but undeniably dangerous Vikings 
Torunn the Strong and her sisters, the descendants of the Goddess Solveig of Highgard are the only survivors of the dreaded Red Death. Tall, blonde, beautiful, brave and skilled in weaponry, Torunn will do whatever is necessary to save them from the scourge that killed their people. Forced to leave her sisters and her world behind, she is transported to the land of the Vikings where she is to discover the fate of the lost Highgardian boys sent there twenty years earlier.  
Near death, she is saved by Brandr, a fearless, tall, muscular, ruggedly handsome man once a Viking warrior. Torunn and Brandr are forced to battle the brutal mountainous climate, wild beasts, and dangerous enemies. Neither want to admit they are falling deeply in love, for Torunn hasn’t ever met a man before and Brandr’s past is filled with tragedy and betrayal. 
Is it possible for them to find happiness together?
I love Norse Mythology, and since I have been breaking out of my normal reading habits by reading more romance books, I stumbled upon The Norse Protector by Leigh Ann Edwards. It's part fantasy, part historical fiction and part romance, so I think it has something for everyone. I especially love the setting of this, and I felt like I could just see everything in my head.

Monday, July 15, 2019

#ARCREVIEW: Good Guy (Rookie Rebels #1) By Kate Meader

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Good Guy
Publisher: Kate Meader
Release Date: July 30th, 2019
Format: egalley*
My Rating: 
GoodReads ★ Amazon ★ B&N 
He's a Special Forces veteran making his pro hockey debut. She's a dogged sports reporter determined to get a scoop. She's also his best friend's widow...
Fans can’t get enough of Levi Hunt, the Special Forces veteran who put his NHL career on hold to serve his country and fight the bad guys. So when his new Chicago Rebels bosses tell him to cooperate with the press on a profile, he’s ready to do his duty. Until he finds out who he has to work with: flame-haired, freckle-splashed, impossibly perky Jordan Cooke.
The woman he should not have kissed the night she buried her husband, Levi’s best friend in the service.
Hockey-stick-up-his-butt-serious Levi Hunt might despise Jordan for reasons she can’t fathom—okay, it’s to do with kissing—but her future in the cutthroat world of sports reporting hangs on delivering the goods on the league’s hottest, grumpiest rookie. So what if he’s not interested in having his life plated up for public consumption. Too bad. Jordan will have to play dirty to get her scoop and even dirtier to get her man. Only in winning the story, she might just lose her heart
I stumbled upon Kate Meader's Chicago Rebels series, but haven't read them yet, so I jumped at the chance to read this new book coming out in her new series Rookie Rebels. This book is in the same world as Chicago Rebels, but I felt like I didn't really miss much. This book reads as a standalone.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

#REVIEW: The Mistake By Elle Kennedy (Off-Campus #2)

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The Mistake by Elle Kennedy
Publisher: Elle Kennedy, LLC.
Release Date: May 26th, 2015
Format: Kindle
My Rating: 
GoodReads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD
He’s a player in more ways than one…
College junior John Logan can get any girl he wants. For this hockey star, life is a parade of parties and hook-ups, but behind his killer grins and easygoing charm, he hides growing despair about the dead-end road he’ll be forced to walk after graduation. A sexy encounter with freshman Grace Ivers is just the distraction he needs, but when a thoughtless mistake pushes her away, Logan plans to spend his final year proving to her that he’s worth a second chance.
Now he’s going to need to up his game…
After a less than stellar freshman year, Grace is back at Briar University, older, wiser, and so over the arrogant hockey player she nearly handed her V-card to. She’s not a charity case, and she’s not the quiet butterfly she was when they first hooked up. If Logan expects her to roll over and beg like all his other puck bunnies, he can think again. He wants her back? He’ll have to work for it. This time around, she’ll be the one in the driver’s seat…and she plans on driving him wild.
I reviewed the first book in this series The Deal last month, but I actually read it awhile ago, so when I started up this second book I kind of forgot that Logan was in love with Hannah. I really felt for the dude, but I was really glad the way this was handled, and it didn't make it a love triangle. It also causes Logan a lot of grief because it makes him second guess why he's interested in Grace. He tries to do the right thing, because he doesn't want to hurt her, but at the same time it hurts them both. Ugh, Logan, boy you are dumb, but I did enjoy you work to win that girl back.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

#ARCReview: The Nanny Rules by Melynda Price #sportsromance #football

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The Nanny Rules By Melynda Price
Publisher: Entangled: Brazen
Release Date: August 12th, 2019
Format: earc*
My Rating: ★ 1/2
GoodReads ★ Amazon ★ B&N 


Don’t touch the nanny. It’s one rule I’m most certainly going to break.
Since becoming a single father, I have two things that keep me sane—my daughter Lily and playing football for the NFL. But when my meddling sister hires a nanny without my knowledge, I’m not thrilled to come home and find the woman has taken over my house. Our instant attraction is one more complication I don’t need in my life.
But my daughter loves Amelia, and I will do anything for that tiny munchkin. Even if it means walking around with blue balls most of the time. Why does the nanny have to be so sweet—and drop dead gorgeous? She’s driving me crazy. Never in my life have I wanted a woman more.
I just need to make it through this season. I can do that. Hands free, of course. But then there’s that moment, and I know she’s thinking what I’m thinking and, well, yeah. Screw the rules
I like a good sports romance, so of course I was up for reviewing The Nanny Rules by Melynda Price. The book is a pretty predictable smutty romance book, so if that is your jam, I think you will really enjoy it. I liked it enough, but not enough that it really wowed me. For me it just felt like something was missing from it, but I don't know what it was.

Friday, July 12, 2019

#ARCREVIEW: The Oddmire, Book 1: Changeling by William Ritter #BlogTour

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The Oddmire: Book One: Changeling by William Ritter 
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Release Date: July 16th, 2019
Format: egalley*
My Rating: 
GoodReads ★ Amazon ★ B&N TBD

Magic is fading from the Wild Wood. To renew it, goblins must perform an ancient ritual involving the rarest of their kind—a newborn changeling. But when the fateful night arrives to trade a human baby for a goblin one, something goes terribly wrong. After laying the changeling in a human infant’s crib, the goblin Kull is briefly distracted from his task. By the time he turns back, the changeling has already perfectly mimicked the human child. Too perfectly: Kull cannot tell them apart. Not knowing which to bring back, he leaves both babies behind.

Tinn and Cole are raised as human twins, neither knowing what secrets may be buried deep inside one of them. Then when they are twelve years old, a mysterious message arrives, calling the brothers to be heroes and protectors of magic. The boys must leave behind their sleepy town of Endsborough and risk their lives in the Wild Wood, crossing the perilous Oddmire swamp and journeying through the Deep Dark to reach the goblin horde and discover who they truly are.
EXCERPT

A VERY LONG TIME AGO, HUMANS AND FAIRIES
and elves and dolphins and all of the other intelligent beings of the world got sick of one another—which was understandable, as intelligent beings were all pretty much rubbish in those days. After much arguing, they decided to split up the world and build a sort of magical wall between the two halves. On the human side of the barrier, life would be governed by logic and reason and the laws of nature. It would be an honest world of soil and struggle. The other side would be ruled by forces more ancient than any earthly science, a world of magic and madness and raw potential. Humans called their side the Earth, and magical beings called their side the Annwyn (all except for the gnomes, who called it Pippin-Gilliewhipple—which is one of many reasons that, to this day, nobody from either side much cares for gnomes).
For many centuries, the wall stood—a sort of veil between two worlds, invisible but everywhere. Neither side could see or touch the other, and in time many creatures forgot there was another world at all. This remained the state of things until rogue groups brought their simmer- ing strife to an unruly boil and a new war broke out. As it turned out, intelligent beings were still fairly rubbish if not properly supervised. The resulting battle blasted a great, gaping hole right through the invisible barrier.

When the dust had settled, some felt the hole in the wall should be patched back up, and others felt the barrier should
come down entirely. In all the hubbub, nobody noticed as the thing that had been inside the wall—the thing that may have been the very soul of the wall—escaped. Nobody was watching as the thing that had spent countless centuries listening at the cracks and growing hungrier and hungrier slipped past the rubble and across the bloody battlefield. Nobody saw it slide quietly into the forest.

The Thing clutched at shadows as it moved between the trees, drawing the darkness around itself like a rid- ing cloak. It had never known sunlight, or birdsong, or honey-sweet breezes, or even the sound of its own name. If the Thing even had ever had a name, it had never had anyone to speak it.

The Thing whipped past mossy boulders, through tow- ering trees, and over the muggy, murky Oddmire. When it reached the very heart of the Wild Wood, it finally slowed and came to rest. The trees grew more densely there, and the air was still. Even the sound of the birds died away. The shadows here were thick and heavy, and the Thing gathered them up, greedily.

The Thing knew shadows. In that sunless, starless place between worlds, there had been shadows so absolute they had no form. The Thing’s whole world had been a shadow—its whole life had been one great shadow, and within it, the Thing had felt impossibly small. But the shadows in this new place were different. They would do as it bid them. They were powerful, those shadows of stones and boulders and tall pine trees, and the pieces torn from them felt comfortable as they knit together across the Thing’s back. The Thing felt strong. Beneath its swelling cloak of darkness, the Thing began to take on new shapes. Bigger shapes. Terrible shapes. Still, there was one shadow that caught the Thing like a thorn: its own. The creature’s meager slip of a shadow followed it, clung to it, taunted it with its own true, trifling form.

The creature plunged its talons into the forest floor, and for a time, the only sound was the scratching of unseen claws digging into the soil. When the hole was deep enough, the Thing turned its talons in on itself. It tore and it ripped until finally, reverently, it lowered its own severed shadow into the cold earth and buried the humble scrap beneath the dirt. All around it, pools of darkness blossomed as if the entire forest floor were a fresh, clean napkin laid over a seeping ink stain.

The darkness grew.

The Thing drew itself up to its full height, and then it drew itself up a little higher, and higher still. Countless stolen shadows rippled along its cloak like waves of grain shimmering in a breeze. The Thing would be whatever it pleased now. It was never going back.

The darkness spreading across the forest floor solidified into angry coils and knots as it grew. Wicked thorns burst from its surface. For just a moment, there was silence and the forest was still. And then the darkness began to creep.