It Came!

 

 Guys, it came! We pre-ordered the books and Amazon delivered it just now. It’s not technically released until the 1st so I’m not sure that they were meant to send it yet? I’m so excited though. I’ve been running around the house with it for the past 5 minutes. I’m now going to go and hide upstairs for the rest of the day – all of the useful things I was supposed to get done are never going to happen now. I’ll write a review on it when I’m done but I have posts scheduled until the end of September so no-one needs to worry about spoilers. 
Becca x

To All The Boy’s I’ve Loved Before – Jenny Han

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For this book I took a slightly different approach to reviewing it. Rather than reading the whole thing and then writing the review in it’s entirety at the end, I wrote down my thoughts as I was reading and did it a bit like you might live tweet something. It was really fun to do so let me know if you liked it and I might do some more like this – although I’ll try and include page numbers next time (my kindle doesn’t have any which makes it hard):

  • I like the way Margot is shown. Her calmness and surety. Her strength. It makes me wish I had more of it when I was younger and I don’t think I was an unconfident teenager. Contrary to what many may think I think her breaking up with josh was incredibly brave and incredibly strong and I wish I’d had the strength to do the same before I went to uni. It’s not easy to understand how hard it reay is until you go through it.
  • Omg Josh is actually normal. No sparkly eyes. Not chestnut auburn hair the colour of autumn. Just a dude. Finally.
  • Lara Jean’s scrap booking set up is like my dream. There is no such thing as too much washi tape. Now I want to go shopping.
  • I actually kinda want her to write this spy novel…
  • Seriously. Does this whole family fancy Josh? Poor guy, what a minefield.
  • If he ends up dating Lara Jean I will be very unhappy.
  • I like the fact that Lara Jean isn’t just moaning about the fact she can’t have him but is actually going ‘no I am an awful person I will stop this’ in a legitimate way
  • Oh god. This is painful. I actually feel so bad for her even though I knew it was coming. I bet it was Kitty.
  • Lara Jean kissing Peter Kavinsky is actually painful to read. This whole thing is painful to read. It’s great.
  • I like how short the chapters are. I can read a chapter as a break from work and I don’t end up taking hours.
  • I’m actually starting to like Peter. He’s kinda sweet even if he is hung up on Genevieve. I feel like if they both actually gave each other a chance it would be really cute.
  • Ok so maybe he’s a cocky basrard but he’s still kinda endearing.
  • This is how I feel about driving. I feel you Lara Jean.
  • Josh is kind of a douche. Like choose a sister. You only get one sister. You don’t get to be douchey when other sister likes someone else. Seriously. I thought you were the good guy. I am on Peter’s side 100%. Fucking love triangle snuck up on me. Bloody hell.
  • Fucks sake Josh. Shut up.
  • Yes Lara Jean! Yes yes yes! You have that epiphany. You tell him!
  • Definitely rooting for Peter.
  • Eurgh Margot’s such a snob.
  • Fairly sure they don’t have room mates at St. Andrews. I mean I don’t actually know but it’s not all that common in British universities. It’s usually more flats with individual bedrooms. I only know one person who shared a room in freshers.
  • Genuinely thought Genevieve was going to be in that hottub being non-pg. Now I have to go and read that whole page again because potential cringe factor made me only skim it.
  • What. A. Bitch. Shove off Geneveive. I bet it was you who made up that rumour. Because you’re a class-A ho-bag.
  • This is actually making me really sad.
  • I feel like this is all just getting a bit out of hand now and everyone really needs to learn to communicate better…
  • Totally called it. Kitty was the obvious culprit.
  • This ending is not enough for me. Where’s the sappy make up kiss. Where’s the cliche romantic over the top malarkey we usually get at the end of a love triangle. I need more dammit.

I’m not sure if that worked or not but I really enjoyed doing it and it gave you an insight into the weird way my brain works when I’m reading a book I really like. And I did really like it BTW. Jenny Han’s writing is fab and I will be reading the next one ASAP.

~ Becca x

The Physical Haul

IMG_0633I got more books. No excuse needed IMO. (And my father bought them for me because I am very lucky).

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P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han – Because To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was just the cutest and I needed the next one. I am now fighting the temptation to re-buy the first one in physical copy because the covers are just so darn adorable.

IMG_0639Cross My Heart and Hope To Spy by Ally Carter – Because Gallagher Girls is my new guilty pleasure and even though they are kinda semi-awful/sickening/cringeworthy I now have to read them all. y review of the first one is coming next week but for now, just know that I read the first one (which was in my last haul) in about a day and am apparently now going to be reading the rest of them. No wonder my father looked at me weirdly when I told him what I wanted. But I care not because a fun book is a fun book no matter who it’s imbed at!

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Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter – See above. I told you it was a problem.

IMG_0647Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins – Summer is the perfect time for contemporary (even if it is currently raining outside my window and has been miserably grey for the last few days). Since reading Anna and the French Kiss last summer I knew I wanted to finish the series. They’ve been super cheap on kindle all summer but I’ve been putting it off because the covers are so pretty that I wanted the physical set for my shelves. The pink cover is still my favourite though. (The picture for this one is different because I am currently reading it – hence the Egyptian hippo sticking out the top – and it was downstairs when I was taking photos. Yes I was too lazy to go get it.)

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Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins – Because I had to finish the set. Duh.

IMG_0635Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel – I’ve been really intrigued by this one for a long time because it seems like a really interesting and fun take on post-apocalyptic dystopian. I have basically no clue what it’s about other than a theatre troupe in the apocalypse but tbh I’m not sure I need to know anymore to be interested. Also there’s a deer on the front. It will be something different to the rather large pile of contemporary I’ve accumulated so I’ll be reading it when I want a break. I did have a peak inside though and the writing is tiny so that will be interesting.

Having rearranged and tidied up my bookshelves (they no longer look tidy at all) at the start of the summer (read: crammed all my uni books that I no longer need onto one shelf so that I had more room for books I actually want) this is the last shelf I have to fill up. I was really proud of myself for managing to make a whole empty shelf and that lasted all of about a month and a half. But books!

                    ~ Becca x

The Winner’s Curse – Marie Rutkoski

winners curseYes. After the disappointment of Snow like Ashes, just yes. This was everything I wanted it to be.

Granted the world building was a little lacking. While I got a vague idea of the contrasting cultures of each society, the details of them just wheren’t quite there, nor was the intricacy of the role played by various characters in the wider world, or the history which predated the story. It was there enough to get the general gist, but there just wasn’t quite enough to really understand it. But you know what? I didn’t care. Genuinely. It wasn’t something that affected my reading experience at all and it is only looking back that I realise that I only half understand some of these things. So my only real complaint about this book is something that really doesn’t matter all that much at all.

Ultimately this book is driven by its characters. Primarily the love story between Arin and Kestrel. But it isn’t just thrown at you, and it isn’t the centre plot line. Yes it might be the motivation behind a lot of what goes on but its subtle and believeable and at no point do you start rolling your eyes at the fact that they’re making out at a time when they should be doing something useful. Because it literally never happens. Despite their growing attraction to each other both stay true to themselves, and often put the greater need of their people first, even if those needs are in direct opposition to what they personally want. They do what they have to do. They have their own lives. They are people. It is incredibly refreshing. This works in combination with the fact that there is absolutely no instalove. Arin and Kestral get to know each other before they even begin to really think like that, and while its certainly obvious from the start what will happen, the development through which their feelings emerge is almost painfully slow, much in the same way that you watch two of your own friends get to know one another and desperately just want to shout ‘make out already’ at them every time they glance conflictedly at one another. And this conflict that each character shows is itself believable, with none of the angst or self pity that makes you want to wring their necks. Indeed, by the end of the book, it is the lack of epic romance, the potential for what they could be, for what you want them to be, that tears the reader apart, and makes you want to throw the book against the wall. I desperately wanted Kestrel to tell Arin what was going on, to make him know that she loved him, that it was for him, and it showed her character’s tremendous strength that she didn’t. Both characters had strength, in doing what they must over what they wanted.

The other characters too are fleshed out, and they develop, even those who are in only a little of the book. For me, it was Sarsine who best exemplified this. She went from disdainful and bitter, as one would expect her to be, to warm, and much more genuine, if still guarded, in a short period of time but in a way that was still believable. Even Cheat, who was never exactly charming to begin with got nastier and nastier the more we saw him, until the point where he actually made my skin crawl. With Cheat’s interactions it became particularly clear that Rutkoski didn’t euphemise the dark side of war, of rebellion, of imprisonment. She didn’t dwell on it, or exaggerate it purely for the point of shocking the reader, but nor did she gloss over it, creating a the sense that the events were very real, and making you about 100 times more invested in them.

It was great. Honestly. I’d heard mixed reviews about it but I truly enjoyed this book and am currently debating whether or not I can justify buying the next one after my recent bout of spending… (If you have seen my previous post then the answer turned out to be yes… – I told you none of these posts would go up in a logical order).

~ Becca x

P.S.: I also found out you can play Bite and Sting online and it’s great and I kinda want it as an actual card game.

The Kindle Summer Sale is a Dangerous Place

The Kindle Summer Sale is the worst thing for my bank account. So many things appear on sale for ridiculously cheap prices and I had to seriously reign myself in not to spend an absolutely extortionate amount of money. I think I did reasonably well considering – I only spent £4 in the sale and then another £2 on another book which wasn’t actually in the sale but was pretty darn cheap, so I think £6 for 5 books is pretty darn impressive and I am 100% OK with my actions dispute the fact that I have a huge TBR pile already and also a physical book hall coming up as well… But books are the best.

ocean LaneThe Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman has been on my wish list for eons and at 99p I could hardly not buy it. I’m not really 100% sure what it’s about but it looks haunting and beautiful and all the reviews I’ve seen say its great. And Neil Gaiman’s writing is always amaze.

frankieI wasn’t sure about The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart, but I was really in the mood for contemporary, and it seemed like a fairly girl-power-esque book. I enjoyed We Were Liars even if I wasn’t blown away by it, and I’m really intrigued to explore more of E. Lockhart’s books. This one looked like it would be a good summer read at least.

soulmatesSoulmates by Holly Bourne was another one stemming from my desire to submerge myself in Contemporary YA romance this summer, something that I seem to be doing a pretty good job of thus far.

gallagher 1I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have To Kill You by Ally Carter. I tried so hard not to buy this book. I did not need this book. But I was just massively drawn to it and I don’t read a lot of fiction aimed at younger teenagers and it had spies. So yeah. That happened. And (spoiler for future reviews) it was an excellent decision.

winners crimeThe Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski because I read the first one and I needed the second one and it was super cheap.

So they are the digital acquirements so far this summer – physical books to come later!

                    ~ Becca x

Achievements

I know I have been neglecting this blog a lot over the past six months of so, but as of tomorrow I will have a number of life achievements under my belt (read gained degree, got job, officially an adult – gulp!) and so hopefully I can turn my attention back in this direction again. I can’t guarantee anything; I’m sure everyone knows how life often gets in the way of even the best intentions, but I am hopeful that I won’t be quite so horrendous at this in the future.

I’m also hopeful that I might finally be able to start writing as well – having had certain stories in my head for a good 8 years or so I think it’s finally time I started putting them down on paper!

So here’s to new attempts and lots more blog posts! (I apologise for how eclectic things will be over the next few weeks as I finally upload the many blog posts I’ve been accumulating over the past few months which may or may not appear in any sort of logical order (probably not)).

~ Becca x

Tea Collection: Part One (?)

IMG_0600What is the perfect thing to go with a nice new book? A cup of tea of course! Well, a cup of tea, and some chocolate, with new pyjamas and a huge pile of blankets is probably perfect, but most of the time I’ll just take the tea. I spend a lot of my time reading. And a lot of my time drinking tea. And a lot of my time doing both. I am an absolute tea hoarder (In my university room pictured here I have the same amount of shelf space dedicated to tea as I do to books so…) So I thought it might be nice to share with you the teas I am currently obsessed with, to inspire you to try a new cup of tea with your book. Of course, a standard builders brew is all well and good, but sometimes its nice to have something different. I tend to change what I’m drinking quite a lot (mostly because I get through it so quickly that I’m endlessly buying new boxes) so I may make this a more regular thing, if people seem interested.

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1. Twinings Lady Grey

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This is my standard tea. Where most people drink English Breakfast, I drink Lady Grey. I get called pretentious for it a lot, but I think it has a much nicer flavour, and the hint of lemon in it is really good for making you feel a bit more alive in the morning. Of course, as a Black Tea it’s also great on colder days, when you’re snuggled up under a blanket with a really dense book that you can’t wait to get through. Think The Bone Season, or Deathly Hallows.

2. Tetley Super Green Teas

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I have the Boost in Berry, and the Immune in Tropical. I love Green Tea, especially as it starts to get a bit warmer, and I want something a bit lighter to go with the weather. Both of these are really refreshing (I finished one before I remembered to take a picture and accidentally threw it away so only the Immune one is shown here), and are meant to have added vitamin-y things in to make you more awake, and boost your immune system. While I’m not sure whether that’s actually true, it can’t help to drink them all the same! Green tea of any type is really good for you, and I always feel so much better when I drink it. At £1.50 a box I could afford to drink multiple cups a day to get me through my piles of uni reading, and they taste amaze.

3. Higher Living Green Tea Chai

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My sister gave me this for my birthday and oh my goodness it’s so good. It’s fairly similar to chai tea, but lighter and better for you because it isn’t full of milk and sugar. It’s really nice in the evening when I want something warming but with less caffeine than Lady Grey. I got though a significant number of these when reading The Heir, and the two went together perfectly.

4. M & S Lemon, Ginseng and Ginger Tea

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I don’t like the taste of this. I have to say it because honestly, I can barely stand to drink it. Which may make you question why it’s made this list. Well, it’s only £1 and it is absolutely THE best thing for shifting a cold. I mean, if you have full on flu then you might need a bit more TLC, but for those times where you just feel really grotty, but you still have to get on with life, drinking this three times a day will make you feel so much better, so quickly, even if you do have to stomach the taste (I really hate the taste of lemon and honey-esque concoctions, so it’s not really surprising that I don’t like this. If you are one of those people, like my mother, who will home-make lemon and honey drinks then you will probably love this. I am, unfortunately, not one of those people. I will say that it tastes better than those yellow strepsels though so that’s something at least.)

5. Pukka Night Time Tea

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Pretty self-explanatory really. It has lavender and oat flower in it which is supposed to help you fall asleep more easily. I don’t tend to have too much trouble sleeping but I do find that when I curl up with this I feel nice and relaxed, and sometimes even struggle to finish my chapter.

So there we go! The five teas I am loving at the moment. That hardly makes a dent into my tea shelf though, so if you want to see what else I have as I keep trying different things let me know, because I’d definitely like to do more! Sitting down for hours with a book just isn’t the same without a good cup of tea right?!

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Snow Like Ashes – Sara Raasch

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I know, I know, another review. And yes it’s late again. I actually have a whole list of posts which I’m slowly working my way through writing, and not all of them are book reviews, but I just get so darn involved with every book I read, especially now that I actually get to read again, that I can’t help sharing it with you all.

Today we have Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch and I don’t know. Undederwhelmed doesn’t really cover it. For starters, SERIOUSLY WITH THE LOVE TRIANGLES?! I thought we were past that by now…

It took me a long time to get my head into this book. The beginning is just a bit slow… The plot line that is hinted at by the blurb gets thrown at you in the first couple of chapters or so and after that it’s just a lot of not much going on. The characters, because of their political difficulties and hardship, were very closed off, and whilst it made sense within the story, it made it very hard to actually connect with any of them. Most of them were basically just there to exist, and I’m still not entirely sure who’s who or even what gender they are. The cast of significant characters was only about 8 people long, and not even all of those were fully fleshed out.

It wasn’t until the introduction of Theron that I started to engage with anything. Although he’s actually a fairy typical male love interest, he was such a refreshing change from the Winterians we’d seen so far that I was really glad he’d entered the scene. And with the whole marriage manouvring thing I thought that instead we might start to get some political manouvring and intrigue instead of just action. It was shaping up to be, maybe not great, but at least not awful. That is until they killed all of it with a combination of giant battle and that bloody love triangle. Seriously? I don’t even know what it added.

Even the major villain was a bit underwhelming as a character. Angra was arrogant and cold-hearted but his interactions with Meira weren’t anywhere near as terrifying as they could have been, and his motives just seemed to be the fact that he was evil rather than anything tangible. And Herod was just, kinda there I guess. For this vicious, sadistic, evil general, he never really did all that much. The only point where I got a sense of the tyranny of Spring was through the Winterians imprisoned there. Now this part I think  was actually done well. The cages, the work, the tunnels, those slight glimmers of hope contrasted with desolate hopelessness. I felt that. I felt for them. It was only through that that you felt any semblance hatred for Angra.

Also I predicted the major reveal from about 20 pages in and then spent most of the book incredibly frustrated at how no-one else had managed to figure it out yet. Maybe I’ve just read too many of these things but it was 100% obvious.

I dunno. It wasn’t a bad book. I enjoyed it and I’ll probably read the rest of the series, but  I was just left a bit underwhelmed. It’s not one of those books I’m desperate to find someone to discuss it with, or thrust under the nose of every single family member because they absolutely must read it. It felt like Avatar the Last Airbender, with everything that makes ALA great removed and then randomly mashed with everything that’s generic about YA dystopia. I feel a bit meh.

~ Becca x

The Touchstone Trilogy Cntd. – Andrea K. Höst

Lad-Rat-One-200x300Having been haunted by reading Stray last summer, I bought Lab Rat One earlier this year but it has taken me until now to actually get around to reading it. Stuck in a post-Sarah-J.-Maas reading slump (I finished ACOTAR and it was great, but these reviews are out of order because I haven’t actually written that one yet…) I started at least three other books before finally managing to get into one. And I was obsessed again so quickly. Quickly enough that I bought the third book, Cazsandra, within about half an hour of finishing the second (about as long as it took my sister and I to realise that, contrary to what we had been led to believe, you can’t actually lend books between kindles in the UK, which is utterly ridiculous, but that’s another rant..) even though I have no money. And then the Gratuitous Epilogue within ten minutes of finishing that. Even though I have no money.

The plot is fast paced and engaging and Cassandra is just so likable as a character. She’s entirely human and entirely teenage, and she reacts to the strange and often difficult things around her in an altogether natural way, contrary to the self-sacrificing, all-talented, emotionally well-adjusted female heroines which are littered throughout YA fiction. The other characters were likable and genuine and actually developed throughout the serious in a visible yet still 100% justifiable way. The plot was also engaging, with most things making sense and pretty much all of the loose ends being tied up. This doesn’t mean to say though that I am 100% in love with this book. There were a few major flaws, although most of them I think come down the way the book has been published and editied. I think it’s self-published, and well, it shows. I apologise for the amount of spoilers to follow.

Caszandra

One of the major issues I had was just the lack of thourough proofreading. There were so many sentences that just didn’t really make sense, or were grammatically incorrect, or multiple sentences that just didn’t really work together so I had to read the paragraph multiple times to work out what was going on. And the same kinda thing came across in the plot. The overall plot is excellent and really is incredibly well thought through, but there were certain areas that I just wanted more of. The whole Ruuel thing for instance. It goes from he refuses to even look at me or talk to me and I cannot fathom any of his emotions to bam we’re having sex, and I was just sat there going whaaaaa….?? It just didn’t work. And not because I didn’t like the romance, it was key to the rest of the plot and actually worked well later on in the third book. But that moment made no sense. There was no build up. There wasn’t enough of Ruuel’s character beforehand for the reader to have formed any real opinion of him before we’re thrown into this epic romance. It wasn’t out of place necessarily, we just needed more there to make us see and feel what Cass was, rather than feeling detached from the whole thing.

The same pretty much happened for the ending. There’s two and a half books leading up to this big epic ending and then everything is magically fixed in about ten pages and I was left feeling really underwhelmed. This invisible enemy they’d been fighting never really came into play, and the minions of that enemy, who had been these terrifying monsters up until this point were destroyed by a few conveniently placed bombs. I wanted so much more to be explored. I wanted to know if the theories they’d come up with were actually true. Why what was happening was happening. Who these evil God creatures were and how everything had come about. And instead I was left with a short, convenient victory which only seemed to exist to facilitate the following seven or so chapters of happy everyone lives happily ever after. Don’t get me wrong. I really enjoyed those last few chapters. Its refreshing for an author to address what happens in the aftermath of the big battle, how people adjust and how things change; it was actually one of my favourite parts of the book. I just think it would be a lot more powerful if the actual plot line had been resolved a bit more fully beforehand.

And finally the Gratuitous Epilogue has to be mentioned because it was basically just 100 or so pages of fluff fic and it was arguably one of the best 99 pence I have ever spent, becuase babies and happiness and weddings. Yuss.

I feel slightly bad writing this review because I feel like it plays down what I actually found to be an excellent plot. The book is good. Definitely. Certainly. It’s just not quite good enough. I really wish that someone would take a hold of this book and formally turn it from a good book into a great one. The story is so so good, but it has so much potential to be amazing and it’s something that I’d really like to see.

~ Becca x

The Heir – Kiera Cass

I am a failure. Well, not entirely since I did actually manage to pass my degree, but doing so meant that exams took precedence over blog and I haven’t put up a post in absolutely ages, despite the fact that I have actually had them written. I have barely had time to sleep, let alone blog! But now, having had a few weeks home to recuperate, I can finally catch up on all of the posts that need to go up and those that need to be written! (Which is a lot considering I’ve been making up for lost time and finished almost 9 books in just over 2 weeks…). Starting with a fairly short review, which was actually written about 6 weeks ago, so about time it went up!

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I have been looking forward to this book for a long time, because, as we know, The Selection is my guilty pleasure. But I perhaps wasn’t as psyched for it as I have been previous books. It kinda felt like a spin off that was only written because of the success of the first three and I was worried that there wouldn’t be that much more to say. The One ended so nicely with everything wrapped up and everyone happy that I wasn’t sure how this one would work. If it would just be the same thing over again. How much losing Maxon and America as central characters would affect the narrative.

And you know what, it was all okay. I mean, it was a bit similar, and at the beginning Eadlyn’s voice jarred a bit with my memory of her parents’. Both America and Eadlyn’s come in with very similar viewpoints of I do not want to be here, but Eadlyn is a lot more spoilt and self-cantered than I found America to be. Which is saying something. On the other hand she was also a lot more level headed, and responsible than her mother, who was impetuous and made decisions without thinking. And as soon as that side of Eadlyn came through, and the more I progressed through the story, the more I started to take it not as a continuation of America and Maxon’s story, but as a story in its own right. And I think that’s how it’s meant to be taken.

Once that was all dealt with I actually really enjoyed the book. Seeing the selection from the other side was interesting, and I felt like Eadlyn’s reaction was justified. I wouldn’t be impressed either. That being said I also really enjoyed seeing how she developed throughout the book, opening up to the world and the boys. Eadlyn very might goes from a formal fortress whose going to be queen to something that actually resembles a teenage girl. So that was fun.

So, thankfully, there is no love triangle. Yet. Her relationship with kile I think is reay important. Casual relationships aren’t depicted in YA lit anywhere near as much as they should be, when they’re actually a really normal thing and often show more about two characters than does an epic romance. I’m not sure how long it will stay casual but one can hope. The same goes for the Erik/Henry situation. I feel like we are going to get a Kile/Erik love triangle because it will be controversial within the selection setting and just Eurgh. No. I feel it’s completely unnecessary and I’m hoping Kiera somehow manages to use Eadlyn’s relationship with both of them, whether romantic or not, as a way to actually enhance the characters, not just a way to ram a love triangle into the plot. Because God knows we don’t need any more of them.