ARC REVIEW | Viper: Book 1 (Isles of Storm and Sorrow) by Bex Hogan

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Title: VIPER: BOOK 1 (ISLES OF STORM AND SORROW)

Author: BEX HOGAN

Released: 18TH APRIL 2019 by ORION CHILDREN’S BOOKS

Genre: YA FANTASY

Rep: LGBTQ+, DISABILITY, POC | TWs: CHILD ABDUCTION, BRUTAL MURDER, DEATH, TALK OF POTENTIAL SEXUAL ASSAULT

Respect has to be earned among Snakes, and I have done nothing to gain theirs yet

The world:

The story takes place in the Eastern Isles. There are 12 in all, but we only really get the eastern 6 in this story. Most of the tale is on The Maiden, Adler’s ship, but also on a few of the isles. My favourite was the Sixth Isle, but followed closely by the Fourth. The world was rich in detail and multi-faceted, so much so I could clearly visualize them. The isles sounded amazing – mostly – and there are a few I wouldn’t mind visiting. Everything is explained beautifully and I am hooked on Hogan’s writing!

The characters:

Marianne has lived her whole life on a ship under her father’s command. He’s the Viper, which is basically the King’s hand of justice on the sea. Marianne has been pretty oppressed her whole life because she’s not a killer like the rest of the crew. Her compassion and capacity for forgiveness is inspirational and I really loved her. She had loads of depth and was flawed, but so well-written. Definitely a favourite heroine. Her best friend (if you can call her that), Grace, is the best woman on the ship. She’s a highly skilled assassin who is usually assigned to look after Marianne. Grace is also in charge of Marianne’s training, so they are as close as can be on a ship full of secrets. Torin, the prince, is also a pretty major character, interestingly enough. I really loved his role in the whole story and look forward to getting more of him in the next installation. Bronn, Marianne’s ex-best friend, and also a Snake, was surprising! Hogan wrote him so well! I really didn’t like him in the beginning, which is exactly what she wanted, I believe, but then my opinion of him changed. The Viper, Adler, was such a phenomenal villain. I actually hated him! So well done, Hogan! Amazing writing.

The plot:

Essentially, this was a coming-of-age tale about a girl who discovers things are not all they seem on the surface. Once she begins to uncover the truth, there’s a lot more hiding than she initially expected and it turns out her entire world is upended. It’s a really good thing she has so many great friends at her back. The Viper expects her to succeed him one day, but only if she can get over her aversion to brutal murder. The real question is: will Marianne find her strength in time to save the isles and avoid getting herself killed?

Final thoughts:

This wasn’t what I expected at all. In fact, it’s absolutely 100 times better than I ever could have imagined! It has an amazing heroine, pirate life on the high seas, betrayal and deceit, and phenomenal supporting characters. The story is well-paced and such a fast read, but it was never boring and everything contributes to furthering the story. I was shocked by one of the scenes at the end and was highly upset about it, but won’t tell you why because that would be a spoiler! WAH! Anyway, I really loved this story and cannot wait to get more of Marianne and the gang.


Marianne has been training to be the Viper for her entire life – to serve and protect the King and the citizens of The Twelve Isles – but to become the Viper and protect the islands she loves she must find the strength to defeat her father.

An immersive and swashbuckling new fantasy trilogy perfect for fans of Sarah J Maas and Leigh Bardugo.

He will make me a killer.
Or he will have me killed.
That is my destiny.

Seventeen-year-old Marianne is fated to one day become the Viper, defender of the Twelve Isles.

But the reigning Viper stands in her way. Corrupt and merciless, he prowls the seas in his warship, killing with impunity, leaving only pain and suffering in his wake.

He’s the most dangerous man on the ocean . . . and he is Marianne’s father.

She was born to protect the islands. But can she fight for them if it means losing her family, her home, the boy she loves – and perhaps even her life?

A brave heroine. An impossible dilemma. An epic new fantasy trilogy set on the high seas.

Thank you so much to Bex Hogan and Hachette Children’s Group/Orion Children’s Books via Netgalley for the ARC.

five stars

ARC REVIEW | Little Darlings by Melanie Golding

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Title: LITTLE DARLINGS

Author: MELANIE GOLDING

Released: 30TH APRIL 2019 by CROOKED LANE BOOKS

Genre: HORROR, MYSTERY, THRILLER

Rep: POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION | TWs: CHILD ENDANGERMENT, CHILD ABDUCTION

I finished Little Darlings not long ago and omg…my heart…my FEELINGS. MY BRAIN!!! That was so amazing…

How could her brain conjure something that seemed so real, something laden with so much horrifying detail, and yet there be nothing at all?

What a weird, creepy, and darkly twisty little tale- kind of like that cover! It seems to half take place in a nightmarish land and also half in reality, which makes you wonder if that’s maybe also a discussion on postpartum depression and how it affects new mothers. The story was mostly between that and the twisted fairytale details. It seems to me that the idea of changelings probably stems from new mothers suffering from PPD before people actually understood what it was and why it happened, but I’ve also read that they potentially stem from children that begin to show signs of disability after the initial birth. Either way, they are very sinister in the stories, and that is no different from this tale.

Look at someone every day for long enough and you stop seeing what everyone else sees. You start to see what no one else sees, what is kept hidden from most people.

Lauren seems to have very little support from either her husband, family, or nursing staff, which is not really all that uncommon for many women. They all seem to expect her to get on with it and know how to take care of everything, as well as looking after the housework, etc. Especially her husband who MOVES OUT OF THEIR BEDROOM SO HE CAN GET SOME REST!! What an absolute bastard of a man. He complains nearly the whole time and doesn’t take any responsibility for the boys. I really didn’t like him much throughout the story. Also, those damn nurses and midwives are assholes! How dare they treat her that way… I don’t understand what that’s actually about.

Anyway, this tale about changelings and faeries is gripping and so interesting, yet still very strange. I truly could not put this down once I began reading. The writing is amazing and strikes straight to the heart of so many issues! Also, I was really shocked by the ending, which doesn’t happen to me very often.


SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE

APRIL 2019 LIBRARY READS PICK!

“Mother knows best” takes on a sinister new meaning in this unsettling thriller perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman, Grimms’ Fairy Tales, and Aimee Molloy’s The Perfect Mother.

Everyone says Lauren Tranter is exhausted, that she needs rest. And they’re right; with newborn twins, Morgan and Riley, she’s never been more tired in her life. But she knows what she saw: that night, in her hospital room, a woman tried to take her babies and replace them with her own…creatures. Yet when the police arrived, they saw no one. Everyone, from her doctor to her husband, thinks she’s imagining things.

A month passes. And one bright summer morning, the babies disappear from Lauren’s side in a park. But when they’re found, something is different about them. The infants look like Morgan and Riley—to everyone else. But to Lauren, something is off. As everyone around her celebrates their return, Lauren begins to scream, These are not my babies.

Determined to bring her true infant sons home, Lauren will risk the unthinkable. But if she’s wrong about what she saw…she’ll be making the biggest mistake of her life.

Compulsive, creepy, and inspired by some of our darkest fairy tales, Little Darlings will have you checking—and rechecking—your own little ones. Just to be sure. Just to be safe.

Thank you so much to Melanie Golding and Crooked Lane Books via Netgalley for the ARC.

five stars

eARC REVIEW | You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn

Title: YOU’D BE MINE

Author: ERIN HAHN

Released: 2ND APRIL 2019 by WEDNESDAY BOOKS

Genre: TEENS + YA/CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

Rep: POC | TWs: DRUGS, SUICIDE, DEATH, GRIEF, ALCOHOL ABUSE, SUBSTANCE ABUSE

“I wrote this song for a boy. A boy I fell in love with against impossible odds. So this award is for you, Jefferson. If I had to choose my favorite, you’d be mine.”

Oh my goodness, what a super cute story! I really loved Annie and my heart truly went out to Jefferson/Clay. It was so well-written and sweet. I felt it truly captured the modern country music scene, as well. Annie’s backstory is heartbreaking, but not too far off my own childhood. There is so much grief in this novel! Both Annie and Clay are dealing with loss in very different ways (you could actually argue he isn’t truly dealing with it) and trying to cope while also taking on the country music scene and everything that goes along with it.

The alternation of chapters really allows you to get inside both of their stories rather than being entirely one sided. This truly is a story about them both and their intertwining journey to healthy places in themselves. They are truly beautiful together and I love it. Annie worries that her relationship with Clay will end up being as co-dependent as her parents’ marriage. Clay thinks he’s not good enough for Annie, seeing her for what she’s worth. I felt that essentially tells you all you need to know about this story. There’s a lot more to it, but they are so damaged in the beginning. This story shows them allowing each other to grow, amongst several setbacks, and heal from their individual traumas. It tells a story of how people respond very differently to trauma, but, when you have support, you can overcome nearly anything.
My favourite aspect was the theme of being better than your parents were. It reminded me a lot of my own journey. My parents both had their separate issues, but I like to think I’ve overcome my upbringing to become more successful than I could have been if I’d followed either of their paths. I saw a lot of myself in Annie. I also have a parent with a drug problem and it’s hard to live with the thoughts that come with that. It’s very clear the drugs come first and children are an afterthought for those types of people. There’s nothing we (as their children) can do to change it. People have to want help before they’ll get clean. It’s definitely never easy.

I thoroughly enjoyed the addition of song lyrics. Although, I think the duet they sing is Kenny Rogers and Sheena Easton (not Dolly Parton – that was a different duet).

I’ve told so many people to add it to their lists, so if you haven’t already, go check it out. I loved this FIVE STAR read.

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Annie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country music legacy full of all the things her Gran warned her about. Superstar Clay Coolidge is most definitely going to end up one of those things.

But unfortunately for Clay, if he can’t convince Annie to join his summer tour, his music label is going to drop him. That’s what happens when your bad boy image turns into bad boy reality. Annie has been avoiding the spotlight after her parents’ tragic death, except on her skyrocketing YouTube channel. Clay’s label wants to land Annie, and Clay has to make it happen.

Swayed by Clay’s undeniable charm and good looks, Annie and her band agree to join the tour. From the start fans want them to be more than just tour mates, and Annie and Clay can’t help but wonder if the fans are right. But if there’s one part of fame Annie wants nothing to do with, it’s a high-profile relationship. She had a front row seat to her parents’ volatile marriage and isn’t interested in repeating history. If only she could convince her heart that Clay, with his painful past and head over heels inducing tenor, isn’t worth the risk.

Thank you so much to Erin Hahn and Wednesday Books via Netgalley for the ARC.

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March TBR and Reading Challenge

This is going to be a big month for reading, I can just feel it! It’s taken me a few days to figure out what I’m reading this month. I have a reading challenge I’m participating in alongside getting my April ARCs read and reviewed! I have 8 physical and 2 Netgalley books to read this month, as well as 2 already published and a whole queue of audio and ebook loans on my Libby app!

I’ve already finished The Heart Forger, Wink Poppy Midnight, and started Little Monsters for audiobooks. Currently reading Sherwood by Meagan Spooner and I LOVE IT! It’s such a great Robin Hood retelling! Can’t wait to tell you all about it!

I definitely have my reading cut out for me this month. Aside from the above, I have The Invited by Jennifer McMahon, the mermaid’s voice returns in this one by Amanda Lovelace, 2 books on the way that I’ll shout about once they arrive, and I’d like to read more of King of Scars and The Priory of the Orange Tree at some stage this month. Also, dying to read Five Feet Apart when my library hold comes in, which could be next month 😱 Maybe I’ll do a *Library Loans* post sometime soon… what do you think?

And the amount of preorders I have coming up…. it’s no wonder i never have money 😂😂

Did I tell you I won a copy of Bloodleaf in a giveaway?! Hopefully that arrives soon and can be added to this month’s TBR… PREORDER it and enter the preorder campaign!

The reading challenge I’m doing is in honour of International Women’s Month and can be found at Women’s Hall of Fame TBR and Beyond Book Club event. I hope some of you join us! Here’s the board for the challenge:

Well, that’s all for now! See you later, Wayfarers! xx

Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa (eARC review)

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TITLE: Shadow of the Fox

AUTHOR: Julie Kagawa

RELEASED: November 2nd 2018 by

GENRE: Teens + YA Fantasy

First of all… look at those covers! Aren’t they stunning? Which is your favourite? Red = US/Green = UK. I prefer the green, but only slightly..

Now. Unpopular opinion alert!

I was so excited for this book! Everyone I know has been chatting it up, so I was SURE I’d love it. Not the case. I didn’t hate it, but it definitely isn’t top 10 material for me. I found the plot to be extremely slow and a bit tiresome. Tatsumi was extremely boring, even though he was the demonslayer. There just didn’t seem to be much to him in regards to character development or personality… I did love Yumeko. She was wildly hilarious and just someone you’d love to be friends with. Yumeko and the ragtag crew she collects along her journey are totally what redeemed this for me. I enjoyed parts of the book, but I wouldn’t be mad to finish the series to be entirely honest. Hoping book two is a whole lot better than this…

One thousand years ago, the great Kami Dragon was summoned to grant a single terrible wish—and the land of Iwagoto was plunged into an age of darkness and chaos.

Now, for whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, a new wish will be granted. A new age is about to dawn.

Raised by monks in the isolated Silent Winds temple, Yumeko has trained all her life to hide her yokai nature. Half kitsune, half human, her skill with illusion is matched only by her penchant for mischief. Until the day her home is burned to the ground, her adoptive family is brutally slain and she is forced to flee for her life with the temple’s greatest treasure—one part of the ancient scroll.

There are many who would claim the dragon’s wish for their own. Kage Tatsumi, a mysterious samurai of the Shadow Clan, is one such hunter, under orders to retrieve the scroll…at any cost. Fate brings Kage and Yumeko together. With a promise to lead him to the scroll, an uneasy alliance is formed, offering Yumeko her best hope for survival. But he seeks what she has hidden away, and her deception could ultimately tear them both apart.

With an army of demons at her heels and the unlikeliest of allies at her side, Yumeko’s secrets are more than a matter of life or death. They are the key to the fate of the world itself.

New from the New York Times bestselling author of The Talon Saga and The Iron Fey. Fans of Sarah J. Maas, Julie C. Dao, Marie Lu, Cassandra Clare and more bestselling YA fantasy will be captivated by book one of this enchanting new series.
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Thank you so much to Harlequin Teen via Netgalley for providing me with an ARC.

Outrun the Wind by Elizabeth Tammi (eARC review)

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TITLE: Outrun the Wind

AUTHOR: Elizabeth Tammi

RELEASES: November 28th, 2018 by North Star Editions

GENRE: Teens + YA Fantasy/Sci-Fi

The Huntresses of Artemis must obey two rules: never disobey the goddess, and never fall in love. After being rescued from a harrowing life as an Oracle of Delphi, Kahina is glad to be a part of the Hunt; living among a group of female warriors gives her a chance to reclaim her strength. But when a routine mission goes awry, Kahina breaks the first rule in order to save the legendary huntress Atalanta. To earn back Artemis’s favor, Kahina must complete a dangerous task in the kingdom of Arkadia-where the king’s daughter is revealed to be none other than Atalanta. Still reeling from her disastrous quest and her father’s insistence on marriage, Atalanta isn’t sure what to make of Kahina. As her connection to Atalanta deepens, Kahina finds herself in danger of breaking Artemis’s second rule. She helps Atalanta devise a dangerous game to avoid marriage, and word spreads throughout Greece, attracting suitors to go up against Atalanta in a race for her hand. But when the men responsible for both the girls’ dark pasts arrive, the game turns deadly.

Atalanta is a really interesting character, a huntress-orphan with a dark past. I found her to be charismatic, a little selfish, and wholly intriguing. I loved how she held her own with the men’s hunting party and didn’t let their options get to her too much. Her story is one of finding herself and accepting who she really is rather than what her circumstances have made her.

Kahina I didn’t care for so much as a character, which kind of made me love the story that much more. I love when an author can write a character with such depth and darkness. She has her own issues to work through, as well. Thay doesn’t stop her from helping Atalanta several times throughout.

I seriously loved their coming together in Arkadia. Atalanta’s idea for who will win her hand in marriage is a stroke of genius. Love it when a character uses their strengths to their advantage! I would absolutely recommend this Greek-inspired tale to friends. If you loved Michelle Madow, you’ll love this!

Thank you so much to North Star Editions for providing me with an eGalley. All quotes are taken from an ARC and may not match the final release.

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BLOG TOUR + EXCERPT: I Do Not Trust You by Laura J. Burns + Melinda Metz (eARC)

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TITLE: I Do Not Trust You

AUTHOR: Laura J. Burns + Melinda Metz

RELEASES: 11 September 2018 by Wednesday Books

GENRE: YA Fiction

SYNOPSIS

Memphis “M” Engle is stubborn to a fault, graced with an almost absurd knowledge of long lost languages and cultures, and a heck of an opponent in a fight. In short: she’s awesome.

Ashwin Sood is a little too posh for her tastes, a member of an ancient cult (which she’s pretty sure counts for more than one strike against him), and has just informed Memphis that her father who she thought was dead isn’t and needs her help.

From the catacombs of Paris to lost temples in the sacred forests, together they crisscross the globe, searching for the pieces of the one thing that might save her father. But the closer they come to saving him—and the more they fall for one another—the closer they get to destroying the world.

REVIEW

Memphis (M) is a really interesting character from the off. She’s had an amazing upbringing and then suffers an overwhelming loss – that of her father who is her closest person. When she meets Ash and discovers he’s still alive, everything changes. And her quest begins!

M is hands down my favourite of all the characters (although, Mike runs a close second) because she reminds me a lot of myself at 18. She’s strong and smart and fiercely loyal to those she cares about – she goes above and beyond to try to save her father. She also seems very adult for her age at first, but then she begins to become a bit more immature. I think a lot of it is down to stressing about her father and the most recent part of her life. She’s also hilariously funny and I loved that she used words like bananapants!

Ash I didn’t like so much. I loved how well-formed his character was, but I hated that he was always hiding things from M, which is slightly hypocritical of me seeing as M is doing the same. I think the difference for me was the reasoning behind it for each of them. He’s doing it for his religious beliefs, and M is doing it to save her father. I suppose they are both in the right, but a human being’s life is a lot more important than a cult. In my eyes, anyway! He is flawed, yet still interesting. I found myself trying to figure out what his motives were more than once – clearly they don’t entirely align with his cults designs.

I loved the use of mythology and mysticism entwined throughout the story. It made it that much more intriguing, and mythologically-themed fiction is my favourite!! One of my favourite scenes is when M makes the point that all mythology was once a societal belief system. It made me ponder the likes of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, etc., and wonder how long will it take for those to become nothing more than mythology and for some other belief system to take over.It’s interesting to see how once the majority of people no longer believe something, it becomes mythology.

I really enjoyed this book for many reasons. It was a really good read and I would absolutely recommend it to friends! I found it different to what I would usually read, which was really refreshing and totally raced through it.

Thank you so much to Wednesday Books for providing me with a proof copy. All quotes are taken from an ARC and may not match the final release.

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EXCERPT

“You should’ve seen Miss Memphis here get into it with Nick last period,” Brianna said, squeezing in between M and Inez at their usual spot in the cafeteria. “She shut him down with her crazy ancient cultures voodoo.”

“He’s an ass. He’s lucky he’s hot,” their friend Ayana commented, waving her spork in Nick’s direction.

M shrugged. “I wouldn’t try to debate him in Physics. I just know more about Rome than he does.”

“What about AP Chem? Would you debate him in that?” Inez asked in a fake-serious voice. “Would you debate him in German class?”

“She’d debate him in German, in German,” Brianna joked. “And if he tried to fight back, she’d switch to Greek.”

M threw a French fry at her. “I can’t help it. I grew up speaking different languages.”

“And learning about pharaohs. And becoming well versed in the history of the Etruscan people,” Ayana said, putting on a fake accent that was probably supposed to be British. “Oh, and setting broken bones in the bush.”

“That only happened once,” M muttered. Her friends laughed.

“Anyway, it was epic. Thanks,” Brianna said. “I can’t stand fighting with people, and Nick always goes after me.”

“He knows you hate it,” M pointed out. “That’s why he does it.”

“An ass, like I said.” Ayana shrugged.

“You think he’s coming to the party tonight?” Brianna asked.

“Probably. Everyone else is,” Inez replied. “Even Memphis.” M made a face. “Anything to get out of the house. Bob and Liza would expect me to play board games with them otherwise.” Her friends exchanged a glance. M winced. “No offense.”

“Oh, were you offending someone?” Nick piped up from behind her. “Good girl.”

Immediately Bri looked down, while Ayana rolled her eyes. Inez just smirked, glancing back and forth between M and Nick.

“I was not offending anyone. I only meant I don’t like parties,” M said. She didn’t bother to turn toward him. It didn’t matter; he inserted himself onto the bench next to her anyway. A little tingle ran up her spine as the scent of his co- logne hit her nostrils, spicy and warm.

“Mmm, they’re boring. Everyone talking about the prom or the senior trip or whatever. I’m over it,” Nick said.

Me too, thought M, wishing she didn’t agree with him. She loved her friends, but even they were all about high school. M just didn’t care. High school was nothing more than what she had to get through before she could leave. After the crash, after the shock of Bob and Liza becoming her guardians, she’d asked if she could go off to college early, either Boston University or the University of Sheffield in England. Both had the kind of archeology program she wanted and would’ve let her in with no questions. They knew her father. They knew high school was a waste of time for someone like her.

But her guardians said no. They said she needed stabil- ity and normalcy after losing her dad. Never mind that traveling the world and taking care of herself was normal for her. While she and Dad technically lived in Boston, she’d never spent more than a few months there during the school year. They traveled. Half the year spent on digs. She missed it.

“What’s with this thing, anyway? Is it to fight off bad guys?” Nick teased, finding an excuse to touch her. He reached for M’s collapsible bo staff, tucked in the inside pocket of her jacket like always. But before he touched it, be- fore his flirty smile registered in her mind, M had already grabbed his hand, twisted it back to the breaking point, and used the pain to push him off the cafeteria bench and onto the floor. With her other hand, she whipped out the stick and shoved it up against his throat.

M froze. He’s just hitting on you. Her friends were aghast, and everyone nearby watched, openmouthed. Nick’s eyes were wide with panic.

“Sorry.” M stood up, leaving Nick on the floor. “I’m really sorry.”

“Freak,” he muttered, climbing to his feet. He glanced around, noticing the barely concealed laughter from onlookers. “Jeez, I just wanted a fry,” he joked, as if he hadn’t been humiliated, then hurried out of the cafeteria.

“What. The. Hell?” Inez asked. “He was flirting with you and you beat him up!”

“I know.” M groaned, shoving her staff back into her pocket. “I didn’t mean to. It was just reflex.”

Her friends were silent. She’d freaked them out. Should she explain the years of self-defense and martial arts training? That she and Dad ended up in some rough places? Her friends lived in a city, they understood danger. Sort of. In a nice, upscale Boston kind of way.

M sighed. There was no point in trying to explain. No- body understood her life.

“You kinda push all the guys away,” Brianna pointed out quietly. “Maybe not like that, but still . . .”

“I don’t do romance,” M replied. She was done with love, period. She’d loved her parents, and they were both gone. Love hurt too much. It was better to steer clear of it.

They all ate in silence for a minute.

“I mean, he is an ass,” Ayana said finally. And everybody laughed.

 

M: You up?

MIKE: It’s a 12 hr time difference. Of course I’m up.

M: Like you never sleep in on weekends.

MIKE: Fine, your text woke me.

M: I don’t think that glyph is a lotus. It’s bending the wrong way.

MIKE: It has to be a lotus. If it’s not, the whole phrase is wrong.

M: The rest of the phrase never sat well with Nefertum anyway.

MIKE: Your dad said it was a lotus.