Shadow of the Fox (Shadow of the Fox #1) by Julie Kagawa

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.

It’s been a while since I’ve picked up a series by Julie Kagawa. I practically devoured The Iron Fey series and I loved Blood of Eden. When I saw Shadow of the Fox, I didn’t hesitate. Once I started reading, it didn’t take me long to remember why I love this author’s world building so much.

My first love in the Fantasy genre is mythology, mainly because I loved it as a child. It’s familiar, but every author has the ability to put their own spin on it, so the stories are also fresh. Shadow of the Fox was centered around Japanese mythology, a first for me. I have to admit that it took me a little while to wrap my head around this unfamiliar world, but not too long.

There was a lot to take in, but I loved all the twists and turns. The POV switched between not only Tatsumi and Yumeko, but some unexpected characters were given a voice. I loved the magic and legends that were woven into the story. There was danger everywhere and both Tatsumi and Yumeko kept secrets from one another – which didn’t make things easier for either one of them.

I also loved the twists and turns and the unlikely alliances that were formed along their journey. Yumeko’s perspective on pretty much everything was the polar opposite of Tatsumi’s, which was both confusing and frustrating for the warrior.

There are a lot of reasons why I can’t wait until the next book in Shadow of the Fox is released. First and foremost is that, things take a major turn near the end and then… yeah, you’ll just have to read Shadow of the Fox to find out and then join me in waiting not so patiently for Soul of the Sword. *sigh*

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Ravensong (Green Creek #2) by TJ Klune

Gordo Livingstone never forgot the lessons carved into his skin. Hardened by the betrayal of a pack who left him behind, he sought solace in the garage in his tiny mountain town, vowing never again to involve himself in the affairs of wolves.
It should have been enough.
And it was, until the wolves came back, and with them, Mark Bennett. In the end, they faced the beast together as a pack… and won.
Now, a year later, Gordo has found himself once again the witch of the Bennett pack. Green Creek has settled after the death of Richard Collins, and Gordo constantly struggles to ignore Mark and the song that howls between them.
But time is running out. Something is coming. And this time, it’s crawling from within.
Some bonds, no matter how strong, were made to be broken.

Ravensong didn’t affect me nearly as much as Wolfsong, but it was still powerful in its own way. Going in, readers that paid attention were warned by the author that this was Gordo’s story and being in his head wasn’t going to be anything like it was with Ox. I paid attention and I knew that, but I still wasn’t prepared for Gordo’s darkness. That’s not a bad thing because Gordo had been through so much, it would have been weird if he didn’t have a harder edge.

Mark and Gordo were broken and in a lot of ways they had broken each other. They still loved each other though and the kind of bond they had wasn’t an easy one to break. Gordo thought he had though. He thought that he could keep Mark at a distance and ignore his feelings. He thought he hid them well, but it’s hard to hide things from a pack, especially when one of them is destined to be your mate.

So much happened in Ravensong. There was a lot of overlap with events that took place in Wolfsong, but they were seen from Gordo’s POV, so it wasn’t redundant. It actually added to both stories.

Richard Collins may be dead, but what he started is far from over. I don’t want to spoil anything, but TJ Klune’s concept of an Omega wolf plays a very big role in Ravensong. I can’t say much more except that I spent a lot of time in this book holding my breath. Mainly because I had no idea exactly how much of his #EvilAuthor side was going to come into play. Yeah, that love/hate relationship is still going strong.

Regardless of the tension – there was so much to love about Ravensong… The sense of family (pack!pack!pack!) continued to be strong. The characters were amazing. The twists and turns and craziness kept the pages turning and I loved every single minute of it.

 

A Wish Upon the Stars (Tales from Verania #4) by T.J. Klune

Nearly a year ago, blinded by grief and betrayal, Sam of Wilds made a desperate decision to follow the Great White into the Dark Woods. Now, he emerges to a world changed.
The City of Lockes is a prison. The King has been locked away in the dungeons. The Kingdom of Verania has fallen, and the Dark wizard Myrin sits on the throne.
But soon after his return, Sam learns of a resistance fighting in his name led by a courageous knight, a defiant prince, a pissed-off unicorn, and a half-giant who wants to smash everything in sight. If he has any hope of defeating the villains who have taken their home, Sam must face the consequences of his choices—and the friends he left behind.

I have a really, really, really hard time reviewing books by this author. Only because I want my reviews to convince everyone that they should be reading them and I know that I can’t come close to conveying their awesomeness… See, even I don’t believe me when I start spewing things like this. I’ve got to try though, so…

I’ve said this before, but it needs to be repeated. Just because this book centers around a young wizard hopelessly in love with a courageous knight, the prince he has sworn to serve and protect, a band of dragons and his best friends – a half giant and a gay unicorn – doesn’t mean that Tales from Verania is a series full of silliness and fluff. Although there is plenty of that, I mean, how couldn’t there be? The stories go way beyond that. The silliness is sweet relief from the danger and heartbreak – because there’s plenty of that too…

In true TJ Klune form, the chapters are laced with tears of laughter followed by tears of heartbreak. There are also tears of pure, unexpected joy. (He’s evil like that – hence the ongoing love/hate relationship.) Sam comes back from the Dark Woods sooner than the Great White wanted him to, but he’d been gone long enough. For those he left behind, he’d been gone too long. Alliances that Sam isn’t exactly comfortable with have been made and he has a lot of making up to do – even though he knows in his heart it was the right thing to do, maybe… There’s a lot that needs to be done and not much time to do it. As with every adventure and situation these characters have been through – they will work and fight together.

As with most series, I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the Merry Band of Misfits. I have to say though, as series endings go, A Wish Upon the Stars was amazing. This is definitely going to be on my re-read list. Also, if I ever decide to try listening to audio books again, this series will be my first attempt. I’ve heard from more than one listener that Michael Lesley’s narration is not to be missed. 😉

Death Days (Trilogy #1 – ?) by Lia Cooper

By day, Professor Nicholas Littman works as an itinerant professor at a small college in the Pacific Northwest. He teaches seminars on mythology and the intersections of folklore and magic in the ancient world. By night, he’s the local necromancer, a rare magical talent that has left him alienated from other practitioners.
All Nick wants from life is to be left alone to run his magical experiments and teach kids the historical context of magic without anyone being the wiser. Unfortunately, his family is sworn to sit on the council of the Order of the Green Book—a group of magicians dating back to the Crusades—and they aren’t willing to take Nick’s no for an answer.
As though that wasn’t bad enough, a coven of Night Women has arrived in town, warning Nick that there are wolves at his door he had better take care of. But what can one necromancer do when every natural and supernatural card seems stacked against him?

I can honestly say that this is one of the creeper books I’ve read in a long time. Demon summoning, grave robbing, corpse eating bugs… they seem to be the norm for Nick. Although he kind of grew on me, I can kind of see why he was the black sheep in both his family and fellow practitioners. That seemed to suit him just fine because there was no love lost between him and the magical community that was trying to get him to take his family’s seat on the council.

This wasn’t really a romance, but there was a romantic connection. I won’t spoil it by telling you who that ended up being, but if you’re like me, it wasn’t hard to figure out… or hope for 😉 There were quite a few twists and turns and a fair amount of suspense and as mentioned, a touch of romance – which was complicated. I personally can’t wait to see what happens next… speaking of which…

Okay, I know that you’re wondering and I promise, I’m not confused and the title for this review isn’t incomplete, but when I finished Death Days, I just had the feeling that there was more or maybe I was just hoping that there was more. I don’t usually go creeping on author’s websites (well, not a lot anyway) but I just had to know! And since I wasn’t the only reader/reviewer that felt that way, I went searching. When I traveled to Lia Cooper’s website, I discovered that Death Days is indeed the first book in at least a trilogy, but she didn’t indicate the name of the series (hence my creative, incomplete blog post title). Stay tuned, because I most definitely will be keeping my eyes open for the next installment. 😉

A Mage’s Power (The Inquisition Trilogy #1) by Casey Wolfe

Built on the bones of an ancient city, modern-day Everstrand is where master mage, Rowan, has set up his enchantment shop. When not hanging out with his werewolf best friend, Caleb, or studying, he dabbles in herbology and the controversial practice of blood magic. A prodigy who has already earned two masters, Rowan’s bound and determined to reach the distinction of grandmaster, a mage who obtains a masters in all five Schools of Magic.
Shaw works for the Inquisition, the organization charged with policing the magical races collectively known as magicae. Recently, it has come under scrutiny as magicae begin to disappear and reports of violence increase. With secrets of his own on the line, Shaw is willing to risk everything to find out just what is going on behind all the locked doors.
When Rowan and Shaw are entangled in each other’s worlds, it becomes evident that their hearts are as much at risk as their lives. They must find the truth and stop a conspiracy before it’s too late.

I love it when a book takes me by surprise 😉 In the case of A Mage’s Power, it wasn’t immediate. I honestly wasn’t sure about this one at first, but there was a lot of world building involved. Once the story got going though, it was tough to put down.

There was a lot I really liked about this story. There was a unique family/pack connection between Rowan and his best friend Caleb. Speaking of which, I loved Casey Wolfe’s approach to the pack mentality. Actually, even though her world building was extensive, everything about it really drew me into A Mage’s Power.

The relationship between Shaw and Rowan took some time to build, but that’s okay. Trust needed to be built between the two of them. Shaw had some secrets and some preconceived notions about mage’s and their use of magic. Rowan had some doubts about the sincerity of anyone who worked for the Inquisition.

As I mentioned, A Mage’s Power was hard to put down. The mystery of what was really happening to the missing magicae, the action, the budding romance and the friendship kept the pages turning. It’s probably worth mentioning that all the “romance” happened off the page. That didn’t bother me either, but it might be a deal breaker to some. Just know that the story and the obvious love between Rowan and Shaw made up for it… at least for me.

I’m really glad that this book is part of a series. Even though A Mage’s Power didn’t end in a cliff hanger, there is obviously more story to be told and a few other mysteries that weren’t totally solved. I can’t wait until The Inquisition Trilogy continues.

SpellSmoke (A Fistfull of Daggers #2) by SM Reine

It’s not much of a life, taking bounty hunts on vampires. But as a disgraced former deputy, Lincoln Marshall’s not exactly knee-deep in job offers, and airplane tickets are expensive after the apocalypse. His dying father is all the way across the country in Northgate. It’s Lincoln’s last chance to see him, and he’ll do whatever it takes to get there – even though the werewolf pack in Northgate is still out for his blood.
Sophie Keyes, the one and only Historian, needs Lincoln’s help. She fears the gods may be out to kill her. So Lincoln drags her back home despite his better instincts – only to learn that home’s not exactly safer than Reno. Some preternatural monster is killing hospice patients in Northgate.
Sheriff Noah Adair is convinced the killers are werewolves. The werewolves are convinced Lincoln Marshall is the killer. And Lincoln thought surviving the post-apocalypse had been bad enough before all this crap.

Before I started writing this review, I went back and read my review of Lonesome Paladin. I do that from time to time, just to refresh my memory. I didn’t really need to this time, it hasn’t been that long since I read the first book in A Fistful of Daggers. I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t repeating my self too much… 😉

Needless to say, I’m loving this series so far. There were a couple of surprising appearances in Lonesome Paladin. The additional characters in A Fistful of Daggers were expected, but that doesn’t mean that the way readers saw them in SpellSmoke was. Abel and Rylie are adjusting to being new parents while still being the Alpha mates. Abel is trying to take on most of the Alpha duties while Rylie recovers and adjusts. The fact that he needs his mate just as much as Rylie needs him isn’t making things any easier on anyone. Adding Lincoln to the mix isn’t helping. I loved spending time with Rylie, Abel and even Summer again. I may be a bit partial because Seasons of the Moon was my first introduction to this crazy, amazing world created by SM Reine. So you may want to take my infatuation with the pack with a grain of salt.

Aside from Lincoln’s unintentional involvement with the pack, there was a lot more going on in SpellSmoke. I may or may not have mentioned in my review of Lonesome Paladin that I wasn’t sure about my feelings about Sophie. That’s changed… I fell in love with her in SpellSmoke -awkward nerdiness and all. Her sincerity, her unique view on the world, pretty much everything about her… even the way she continually put Lincoln in his place… I loved it all.

Then there were the unexplained hospice deaths. Lincoln’s family, (that, incidentally, explained so much about the man he was). The mysterious assassin who was after Sophie. And a brand new group of shapshifters (kind of)…  SpellSmoke was pretty much non-stop action and craziness and I loved every minute of it.

Oh, and if you’re not a fan of cliff hangers, consider yourself forewarned. Just one more reason why I can’t wait for the next book in A Fistful of Daggers

Magic Runs Deep by Alex Whitehall

For the last five years, Veier has been chained to a king’s throne in his bear form. When a neighboring kingdom overthrows the crown, Veier’s imprisonment ends, but true freedom is not so easily earned. With blood on his hands, he needs someone with patience, strength, and trust to help him become the person he was before and prove to the invaders that he isn’t the monstrous king’s loyal pet.
Elrid, the invading king’s brother and a powerful mage, is everything Veier despises. He’s also the only thing between Veier and execution, because he thinks he can help Veier change from an aggressive bear shifter into a reasonable man. While the pair have a rough start, with long talks and mutual leaps of faith, they begin to care for each other.
However, the closer Veier gets to his freedom, the closer he is to losing Elrid. He must find balance in his heart and his life if he wishes to truly claim the freedom he’s been given—and the man he loves.

I had no idea what to expect from Magic Runs Deep, but I was pleasantly surprised. One thing that you need to be aware of before you pick it up is that it’s labeled as PNR, but it’s not heavy on the romance. There is a romantic thread and a strong connection between Veier and Elrid, but the actual story is more focused on Veier and his journey.

I have to admit that Magic Runs Deep took me a little while to get into, but once I got to know Veier and Elrid, the more wrapped up in it I became. Veier did some things that he wasn’t proud of, but he did them to survive. By the time Elrid and his brother found him, he barely recognized himself. He had spent so much time under the King’s control that it was hard for him to tell right from wrong. He knew that if he wanted to gain his freedom he had to agree to the terms of the new power and most importantly to trust Elrid. Not an easy task when he had spent years controlled by magic and Elrid was a powerful mage.

Elrid kind, compassionate and patient. He saw beyond the monster that they found when they first overthrew the previous king. Veier hadn’t always been a beast who had to fight for his life and somehow Elrid recognized that.

I’ve only read one other book by Alex Whitehall and that was Second Skin, which I really liked, but it was also one of those books that was cut too short. Not only was Magic Runs Deep about twice as long, the characters were much more developed, which makes me really happy that I didn’t pass this one by.

A Destiny of Dragons (Tales of Verania #2) by T.J. Klune

Once upon a time, the wizard’s apprentice Sam of Wilds got his happily ever after in the arms of his cornerstone, Knight Commander Ryan Foxheart. A year has passed, and while Sam’s been captured five or six more times since then, things are pretty great. His parents are happy, Gary and Tiggy still eat sass for breakfast, Randall is somehow alive despite being older than the gods, the King rules with a gentle hand, Kevin the dragon is as gross as ever, Morgan sighs a lot, Ryan continues to be dashing and immaculate, and Sam is close to convincing Prince Justin they will be best friends forever.
Life is good.
Until it’s not.
Because Vadoma, the leader of the Gypsy clan and Sam’s grandmother, has come to the City of Lockes with a dire prophecy written in the stars: a man of shadows is rising and will consume the world unless Sam faces his destiny and gathers the five dragons of Verania at his side.
And she brings along her second-in-command, a man named Ruv.
Ruv, who Vadoma says is Sam’s true cornerstone.
The first book in the DESTINY FUCK YEAH! Trilogy (because sometimes, having a destiny is the stupidest thing ever).

First, if you haven’t read a book by T.J. Klune yet, you are truly missing out. Emotions run rampant in pretty much every book. Tears of laughter, tears of heartbreak, tears of joy – I don’t think I’ve read one of his books without shedding one or all of the above. And no, I’m not a gluten for punishment or a masochist. I just love books that make me feel and T.J. Klune is a pro at all the feels. ALL OF THEM! So, where does The Tales of Verania fall in that spectrum? Well, the “Merry Band of Misfits” are comprised of a gay hornless (sassy) unicorn; a dragon who is WAY too full of himself; a magician’s apprentice who has a knack for getting himself in crazy, mostly dangerous, sometimes deadly situations; a sometimes overly gallant, sword wielding  knight who would follow said magician’s assistant anywhere to attempt to keep him out of trouble; a sweet, lovable half giant who BEGS to punch anyone who poses a threat to his friends and family; and sometimes even a “jilted by the knight,” somewhat reluctant, grumbling prince. If you assumed that A Destiny of Dragons is on the silly side, you’d be half right. The thing about T.J. Klune is that even his silliest books have a depth that inevitably takes readers by surprise. Just one of the many things I love about his books, ❤

A Destiny of Dragons changes things for everyone. Secrets are revealed, connections are discovered that are a bit unsettling and some trust is torn to shreds. Sam has to come to terms with way more than he’s prepared for and spends a lot of time in denial. He avoids dealing with his “Destiny” in hopes that it will go away, but of course, that can’t happen. The only thing he does know is that he’ll do ANYTHING to keep those he loves safe but he’s afraid that isn’t possible. At least not in any way that keeps his heart intact. Then there’s the added bonus of strange alliances are made and more enemies are added to the mix. Saying that A Destiny of Dragons is a hard one to put down is an understatement.

It’s obvious from the list of characters that there is no blood involved in this make shift family, but there bond is stronger than any biological family could ever be. Even those among them who seem not to care, always come through when it counts. (Even the least likely among them.) I think that’s what I love most about this series so far – the sense of family. I have a feeling as the series continues that they’re going to need each other more than ever.

The Consumption of Magic is next, followed by the last book in The Tales of Verania, A Wish Upon the Stars. I have them both and as soon as I get up the nerve to pull on my “big girl pants” I’ll pick them up. Rumor has it that there will be more than a few tears shed. *sigh*

The Lightning-Struck Heart (Tales From Verania #1) by T.J. Klune

Once upon a time, in an alleyway in the slums of the City of Lockes, a young and somewhat lonely boy named Sam Haversford turns a group of teenage douchebags into stone completely by accident.
Of course, this catches the attention of a higher power, and Sam’s pulled from the only world he knows to become an apprentice to the King’s Wizard, Morgan of Shadows.
When Sam is fourteen, he enters the Dark Woods and returns with Gary, the hornless gay unicorn, and a half-giant named Tiggy, earning the moniker Sam of Wilds.
At fifteen, Sam learns what love truly is when a new knight arrives at the castle. Sir Ryan Foxheart, the dreamiest dream to have ever been dreamed.
Naturally, it all goes to hell through the years when Ryan dates the reprehensible Prince Justin, Sam can’t control his magic, a sexually aggressive dragon kidnaps the prince, and the King sends them on an epic quest to save Ryan’s boyfriend, all while Sam falls more in love with someone he can never have.
Or so he thinks.

Since this is a T.J. Klune book, I feel the need to begin this review with a disclaimer. The likely hood of rambling is quite high. I apologize in advance, but that’s just the affect that a few of my favorite authors have on my ability to write a coherent review. My intentions are always good, but I make no promises… consider yourselves warned.

I’m also a tad bit guilt ridden. Why, you may ask? I’ve been seeing for quite a while how much readers love this book. I’ve watched readers wax poetic about Gary, Sam, Justin, Kevin and Tiggy. Why did I wait so long to pick this book up? I have absolutely no idea. I already have Destiny of Dragons, the second book in the Tales from Verania waiting for me on my Kindle. Hopefully that will make up for my tardiness to the Sam of Wilds party. 😉

On the surface, the premise of this book may be a little silly. Okay, so a story centered around a wizard’s apprentice who has a knack for getting himself into crazy, sometimes life threatening situations and whose best friends are a half giant and a hornless unicorn can’t really be totally serious. But honestly, what fun would that be? And really, even in the most serious of T.J.Klune’s books, there’s always a touch of humor. Likewise, even the most comedic of his books can have you shedding tears of laughter as well as tears of heartbreak – sometimes in the same chapter. His #evilauthor status and my love/hate relationship with him is well earned.

There was so much to love about this book. The sense of family, love, magic, humor – there is just so much… I can’t wait to continue this series. I can’t wait until I get to spend more time with this merry band of craziness. I’d love to tell you more, but I don’t want to take a chance on giving away even any minor details. Trust me when I say that The Lightning-Struck Heart is something you have to experience on your own. Speaking of which, there’s something else that I need to experience – the audio version of The Lightning-Struck Heart. I haven’t had a lot of luck with audio books so far, but so many listeners have told me that Michael Lesley’s narration will turn my luck around in a big way, it is destined to be the next book I try. Stay tuned… there’s much more to come from Verania 😉

The Road to Helltown (Preternatural Affairs #9) by SM Reine

My name’s Cèsar Hawke, and the people in my life are filled with good intentions.
We all know where that ends up.
A fissure to Hell has ripped from Las Vegas to Los Angeles and now half the City of Dis is in my hometown. Helltown’s hotter than ever. Demon dynasties are on the rise. Nightmares are out to get me.
Staying alive means forgiving people I’ve kicked out of my life, it means getting vicious with magic, and yeah, it means I’m dealing with dead bodies. Lots of them.
I’m Cèsar Hawke. I used to be an agent with the Office of Preternatural Affairs. And this is how the world ends.

I was not a happy camper going into The Road to Helltown. Why you may ask? The answer is kinda petty, but simple. Out of all the male characters in this crazy world created by SM Reine, Cèsar Hawke is my absolute favorite. (Rylie’s my favorite female character, in case you’re curious.) I may be in the minority and that’s okay, but I suffered a little bit of heart break when I found out that this would be the last of Cèsar’s books. *sigh*

Regardless of my trepidation, I grudgingly put on my big girl pants and dove into the last Preternatural Affairs book knowing that SM Reine would give my beloved Cèsar the send off he deserved. Let’s just say that it’s a good thing I trust this author because Cèsar went through a lot in this book. The Road to Helltown was not a fun trip for anyone involved – least of all Cèsar.

The Road to Helltown was told by several different POVs, which included Fritz, Suzume (never call her that), Isobel and of course, Cèsar. Readers learned a lot about each of them in this book. Some good and some not so good. The thing I love about Cèsar is that he doesn’t take himself too seriously. He knows his faults and admits them freely and he’s blatantly honest – mostly about himself. Being in his head is so entertaining. Readers got that in The Road to Helltown, but they also got things that they didn’t expect – like real glimpses of Fritz, Suzy and Isobel.

I gotta admit, as much as I’ve loved Cèsar, I have not been a real fan of Fritz. He’s always seemed so stuffy and prickly and grumpy… you get the picture. That’s not just from this series either, because he’s made appearances in more than one series in this world. In true SM Reine fashion, my opinions about him changed in The Road to Helltown. I’m still not in love with him, but I can honestly say that I like him now. That’s major progress. 😉

Being in Suzy’s head was fun too. It was great to find out how much she cared about (and lusted over) Cèsar. It shouldn’t have surprised me too much because she was always passionate about her magic. It was just good to know that Cèsar’s love and respect wasn’t one-sided.

I’m not sure why, but I always found the relationship between Fritz and Isobel a little… strange? By the end of The Road to Helltown, I was more comfortable with it. Isobel’s POV helped with that I think. Truth is, I really think that this foursome is much better together than apart – their quirkiness just works better together.

SM Reine took these characters on a unique journey and I liked the twist. It was scary, gruesome, and at times even fun. The Preternatural Affairs series was most definitely brought to a satisfying end, but that doesn’t mean I’m still not going  to miss them… especially Cèsar. There are still a few things I’d like to know, so hopefully we haven’t seen the last of Cèsar and company. Maybe not all together anymore, but a glimpse or cameo here and there would be nice. ❤