Tag Tuesday: Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

Hi, everyone! Its Tuesday again. We made it through Monday and are one step closer to Friday. I don’t really mind the weekdays too much but I know some people are constantly counting them down. Well, participating in tags always helps pass the time, doesn’t it? I was tagged by my friend Sarah at Book Hooked Nook to do the Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag. Now, I realize we’re just a bit past mid-year at this point but too bad! Never too late to have a bit of fun! 😉

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2017. I have two candidates for this but I’m doing my best to choose one for each category. I choose The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana. Here is why: first off, it was a pleasant surprise. I was chosen to read an ARC from Penguin’s First to Read site and I didn’t have very high expectations because her first book didn’t have that high of a Goodreads rating (I think it was at a 3.7 or something, which to me is a take-it-or-leave-it rating). Secondly, I liked it because I was hooked from the very beginning with a fable about trees. I love trees and fables and mythologies. The whole story was beautiful and I devoured it. Third, I was given a free copy to read and I ended up buying a hard copy for myself. I can’t say that about the other book I was considering. So this one wins the prize.

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2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2017. Again, another book more or less involving Middle-Eastern settings, fables, and adventures. My enjoyment of this book is more character-driven, as Khalid is definitely among my book boyfriends (yum!) but the writing is definitely beautiful and it put Renee Ahdieh on my watchlist of authors.

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3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to. Ok, first off, looking at the cover on a screen does it no justice. There are little stars in the tree and they sparkle (I mentioned before that I love trees? I wasn’t kidding).  Second, it’s a novel revolving around summer camp. I pretty much grew up at summer camp and my heart still lives there. And third, all the feels. I am a sucker for this type of book. This will be my jam. And Emery Lord? I have heard all the things. This book must be read by me while the crickets are still a-chirping outside my window.

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4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year. Beautiful cover. Intriguing synopsis. This is screaming Interstellar to me. It probably will be nothing like that, but still….super cool.

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5. Biggest disappointment. Ugh. I don’t even want to talk about this.

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6. Biggest surprise. See #1.

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7. Favourite new author. (Debut or new to you) This book was amazing. Read it.

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8. Newest fictional crush. 2 words: Oakley. Ford.

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9. Newest favourite character. 2 words: Oakley. Ford. Am I having de ja vu??

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10. Book that made you cry. Again with the de ja vu. READ THIS BOOK. Seriously. I will now reveal that this was my second contender for best book so far of 2017. It was so good. I haven’t gotten around to buying a copy yet, but its mainly because I am currently unemployed and I just don’t have the funds. But I know that as soon as I do, I am going to practically sleep with it. I will probably re-read it as soon as I get it, and I will cry all over again. Seriously, this book is so beautiful. Read it and love it and lose your soul in it. So worth it.

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11. Book that made you happy. OMG. Iko. Just….Iko. She is the best character. If I didn’t already enjoy this series, I love it all the more now that I read this graphic novel. And let me just say that this was my first graphic novel, and I really enjoyed it! I literally laughed out loud multiple times. It was really great.

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12. Favourite book to film adaptation you saw this year. I have been absolutely slacking in this department. I did see “Beauty and the Beast” and no, that is not my answer. Yes, I liked it and no, that is still not my answer. Maybe I am biased but Anne of Green Gables/Anne with an ‘E’ just holds such a special place in my heart. I loved the show!

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13. Favourite review you’ve written this year. I just really like this cover, the fact that it has the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel (can you tell I’m from Chicagoland?), and I got to put milkshakes in it!

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14. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received). Umm, do I really need to explain this cover buy?? ….didn’t think so.

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15. What books do you need to read by the end of the year? So these are my literal need to reads, as in, obligated for Netgalley or other review websites. Of course there are more and I have many other ARCs sitting around, AND I have a TBR of my own but I know you all know how all of this goes.

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As I mentioned before, I know its late in the year so if, by this point in the year you have NOT done this mid-year tag, consider yourself officially TAGGED!

Today’s Listening: “Charlie Boy” by The Lumineers

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The Wrapping Up of All the Things

As always, the end of all things came too quickly. More specifically in this case #24in48, the Biannual Bibliothon, and even more significantly, JULY!! How did July get by us? I guess we say that every month. Ah, well. Time to wrap it all up.

o7f2dlnf_400x400To begin the recap, for #24in48, I completed my full 24 hours of reading plus just a little more and I felt so accomplished! In those 24 hours, I finished All Things New, and I came close to finishing Sarah Dessen’s Once and For All. I also made some progress on The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, but for whatever reason, that is a really slow read for me. It just doesn’t hold my interest very strongly.

dcj4gyko_400x400Next up was the weeklong Summer Biannual Bibliothon, which just wrapped up yesterday. My week was busier than I anticipated, unfortunately, but I did get some reading done and some books wrapped up. So during the Bibliothon, I finished Once and For All, I started a new cozy series (because they tend to keep me out of slumps and I am really anticipating fall!) called Curse the Day and I finished that book as well, I started and finished Erin Watt’s When It’s Real, and I have been reading First We Were IV and When I am Through With You. So that’s 3 finished and 2 progressed through. All things considered, I’m pretty happy with that!

And now for the overall July breakdown:

★★★★★ The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana

★★★★ Hook’s Tale: Being the Account of an Unjustly Villainized Pirate Written by Himself by John Leonard Pielmeier

★★★★ When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

★★★★ All Things New by Lauren Miller

★★★ Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

★★★★ Curse the Day by Annabel Chase

★★★★ When It’s Real by Erin Watt

So that’s it, folks. 7 books total finished for the month. 3 of them were ARC’s read before their publication dates. Average rating = 4.0

Its so weird for me to be reading so many contemporaries. As I mentioned earlier, I was craving that cozy/witchy mystery with fall coming up because I just felt a slump coming on and I think it is partially because of the genres I’m reading. I tend to read more YA contemporary romance in the summertime. It just feels right to me. I’m glad that I have been because I have been finding some gems and obviously, from the ratings above, I recommend them as well! Until next time, I also highly recommend finding yourself a readathon or two to participate in. It boosted my reading from 4-5 books read per month to 7! Sure it takes a little organization if you are going to commit and there are optional challenges you can participate in but they are all in good fun. Goodluck and as always, happy reading!

Currently watching: “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”

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“When Its Real” by Erin Watt

30731416When It’s Real was my first read by Erin Watt and I didn’t go into it with very high expectations. Having just come out of a let-down contemporary by another author, I was all the more ready to be crushed once again by the genre. To be completely honest, the book started off a little slow, but after about 30-40 pages, I was in love with both the “him” and “her” voices in the story. Hate-love is my trope and this was my type of book! Oak and Vaughn put each other in their places in the best of ways and it was just great. There was humor, sweetness, just the right amount of anger and snap in both characters. Plus every contemporary romance has to have an excellent cast of supporting characters and this book has it. Oak with his bodyguards (hilarious!) and Vaughn and her family…they were all a perfect compliment to the plot. I really enjoyed it.

Let me back up for just a second here and give you a more specific summary of the book. As I mentioned, the “him” is Oakley Ford–a super hot, teen rock star who hit it big when he was young. He is the son of super-star actor parents, so he has pretty much always been in the spotlight. He wants to be taken seriously and write his own music and really make a new and unique sound for himself. Enter: Vaughn Bennett. She hasn’t exactly had it easy growing up either. She lost her parents in a car accident and graduated early in order to help take care of her younger siblings. She and her older sister work hard to care for ‘the twins,’ and when the opportunity to be Oakley Ford’s fake girlfriend presents itself, the money that comes along with it is irresistible.

Then of course the fake relationship begins and Vaughn is repulsed by the arrogant Oak. Also, she has a “real” boyfriend that the publicists have to stage a fake break-up with. Needless to say, the real douche of the story is the boyfriend, but I’ll let you read all of that for yourself. The story really picks up and for me, I could not put the book down. To be honest, it was the first book I stayed up past my bedtime reading in a long time. Especially in this genre!

So if I “really enjoyed it” so darn much why didn’t I give it 5 stars? Well I’d say a solid 4.5 that I would almost have rounded up to 5 if not for the slow start. Also, there was a lot of underage drinking, drugs (pot, though not mentioned specifically), and sex. Granted its the ‘rockstar lifestyle’ and Oak is an emancipated minor but still…his ease of access to it bothered me. Oh well. Can’t knock a book too bad for that. It was still awesome and I will be checking out more Erin Watt in the future!!

Listening to: “Waiting for Superman” by Daughtry

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Day 5 Blogger Challenge ~ Biannual Bibliothon

Hello everyone! I hope that if you are participating in this challenge, your reading is going well and you are finishing mountains and mountains of books!! I, for one, am not. Not for lack of trying though. I’m less than 3 hours from finishing When Its Real by Erin Watt and I am LOVING. IT. Apparently Hate –> Love is my favorite romance trope. Or one of them, at least. I am also about 150 pages into First We Were IV by Alexandra Sirowy. I hoped to have this one finished by its release day on 7/25 but that didn’t quite happen, and that’s ok. Book’s still good so far!

Anyway, day 5’s challenge is a Character Connection – picking a character whom I connected with on a personal level and discuss what they should have done differently in a certain bookish situation. The character I choose is Louna from Sarah Dessen’s Once and For All. I didn’t give the book the highest rating but I felt a connection with her past and I finished the book recently so its fresh in my mind.

So Louna is a girl who is just finishing up high school and is in her last summer before college. She works for her mom’s wedding planning company and she is extremely skeptical about happily-ever-afters (pretty rough for someone who works in the wedding industry!). The scene Louna definitely needed to do differently was one where a bride was getting cold feet and worrying about her future, and she looks Louna directly in the eye and asks directly “Am I going to be ok? Am I going to have my happily every after?” And Louna absolutely freezes in terror. She cannot answer this bride who is literally about to walk down the aisle!!! If it were me, I would swallow down my past, put on my big girl, professional panties, and make something up. Wouldn’t you think that you should have a plan for a scenario like that? Wouldn’t you think her mother would have helped her plan for a moment like that? I mean (I don’t want to give away spoilers in the book as to WHY Louna doesn’t believe in love), her mom and her partner know her history so you would think that they would help her to figure out something to say, or some way to deal with these situations!! So basically, if it was me, I would ALWAYS have an Ace in my sleeve. Some cliche pearls of wisdom to share. And I feel like most wedding planners do!

And that, my friends, is my input for today! Happy reading!

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Day 4 Blogger Challenge ~ Biannual Bibliothon

How did we make it to day 4 already?! We’re basically halfway through the week!! Yikes! For today we’re talking about a book or books that we gave less than 3 stars. I want to back up to a book I read before I had a blog for this because I think its a bit redundant to reblog about a book I already blogged about. So I’m consulting my Goodreads reviews (thank heavens for Goodreads, right??) for some juicy negative reviews…

28962906Book: Stalking Jack the Ripper

Read: November 22, 2016

Rating: 2 stars

My Review: Please don’t hate me. I was really looking forward to this one and then to me, this was just a flop. “Audrey Rose”/”Wadsworth” was so snobby and easily offended it just drove me insane. Thomas was okay but his character seemed shallow to me. It took me forever to read this book because I was BORED. See also: predictable. I got into the ending a little bit, and the asylum visit was exciting. But otherwise…meh. If this was just a first in series, I really, really, really, REALLY hope this picks up. I like the premise and the setting but MAN did I dislike this first installment!! I’m so bummed!

15748293Book: Eighty Days Yellow

Read: March 25, 2017

Rating: 1 star

My review: There are not many books that I have given 1 or 2 stars to but this is one of those few. Even though I saw that this book had relatively poor ratings, I still had a bit of hope for it because it was a “steamy romance” and the main characters were a) a professor so he should be smart, right? and b) a musician so she should be interesting, right? Well, yes, that was sort of true. But it just wasn’t true enough to float the book and save the rating. The music part in the beginning was interesting for me as a musician myself. I enjoyed that. Then of course its all sex, sex, sex and drama, drama, drama for the other 65% of the book. Now speaking of the drama, it happens…..and then it drops dead. Nothing really resolves. Charlotte just sort of disappears after Dominick gives her her “scene”…there isn’t a big hissy fit and “we’re done forever” big breakup resolution moment. Whatever happens with Victor? Summer and Dominick find each other and then leave each other and the book ends and then that’s it? Uhhhh……yeah. NO connection. NO romance. NO nothing. 1 star.

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So there you have it, folks. My day 4 post. If you are curious, I am currently listening to When its Real by Erin Watt and reading First We Were IV by Alexandra Sirowy for the Bibliothon. I also just started When I Am Through With You on my iPad. 

♫ Listening to: “Stone Cold” by Demi Levato

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Hook’s Tale by John Leonard Pielmeier

Full Title: Hook’s Tale: Being the Account of an Unjustly Villainized Pirate Written by Himself

Release Date: 7/18/17

Publisher: Scribner

“Hook’s Tale…” is probably my new favorite Pan retelling. In fact, it might just be my new favorite retelling. And its a debut novel!! Seriously, the writing is captivating, the perspective is unique, and overall the reading is pretty easy. In the Introduction, the book proclaims itself to be the Peter Pan/Hook version of The Wizard of Oz/Wicked Witch tale and I’d say that’s pretty accurate. I actually am not a big fan of the Gregory Maguire books, but this was much easier to read.

James Cook (aka the character “the Scotsman” JM Barrie writes as Captain Hook) basically writes his own autobiography from his life as a young boy in school, to his voyage to Neverland, to his quest for a full life. It was really fun to hear the “real truth” behind James’ family, how aging/not aging in Neverland works, what all of the pirates are like (hint: they’re hilarious), how Hook really got his hook, the story of the crocodile, and several other Hook-isms.

This was a great fantasy read. Just a heads up, though: every time I started to think that this book could be for younger (middle grade?) readers, something violent or mildly gory would happen. So just be warned that there are a few descriptive scenes in the book and some very mild swearing. Overall if you like Peter Pan, if you are a fan of retellings, if you enjoy fantasy books, or just need a quick and fun read, give this book a go. I definitely recommend it!

Listening to: “Perfect Places” by Lorde

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When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

28458598Let me start out by saying that I really enjoyed “When Dimple Met Rishi.” I tend to enjoy contemporary YA fiction much better in audiobook format, and this book was no exception. The alternate points of view were great and the chosen narrators especially helped to depict the diversity.

The book begins with the ambitious Dimple Shah graduating from high school and getting ready to go to college for computer science. She values hard work and intelligence and has no plans to marry like her traditional parents want her to (“that’s what college is for after all,” they think!). When she convinces them to let her attend Insomnia Con, she is shocked by how easy it is, but it is a chance to meet her idol! On campus under….surprising circumstances….she meets Rishi Patel. Rishi is a bit of a romantic and was raised more traditionally, yet humbly. Surprisingly, the two are paired together for the contest. Push comes to shove, circumstances happen, you’ll have to read the book to find out the details, and that’s the gist.

First, characters. I admire a young woman who is career-driven and intelligent. Dimple wears her glasses all the time, despises make-up (though I don’t know think its completely the make-up as much as rebelling against her mother and dating in general), and is entitled to her opinion and her own choices. (almost to a fault) Rishi is the eldest son of the CEO of a large company, but he completely breaks the mold of the phrase “snobby rich kid.” He does, however, fall in line with his family’s traditional Indian values and he is planning to(expected to) follow in his father’s footsteps and pursue engineering and enter into an arranged marriage. In his heart, however, Rishi is an artist. He loves drawing comics and he is a romantic. Also, he is quick, witty, and loyal. (almost to a fault)

There weren’t very many secondary characters, but the ones that were around were pretty good. Celia–Dimple’s roommate–brought the little bit of ‘feminine’ and guidance that Dimple needed every once in a while, and vice versa. They were there for each other to get each other through lots of obstacles and awkward moments. Ashish, Rishi’s brother, brought in another tangle of a relationship and a fresh voice of guidance and opinion. He turned out to be more mature than I expected him to be. Then there were other contestants and Jenny Lindt herself, who seemed to be all the L.A. “hip.”

I have several thoughts on this book, especially after having read and heard a lot of the buzz surrounding Dimple & Rishi. First off, I think that we adults who read YA need to remember that Dimple and Rishi are teenagers and this book is written for teens. WE are the adults here. I didn’t have any feelings about this really until the last 30 or 40 pages, as I mentioned, from what I have read and heard people saying, I think we can give the kids a little bit of a break. There are a few gushy , cheesy parts where they are cuddling and the dialogue is just downright roll-your-eyes “really?!” but come on, we’ve all been there. Its that honeymoon stage in a young relationship! Another note re: the relationship. I loved that the two of them brought out the good in each other. Really, I thought they worked well together. HOWEVER. Dimple says “I don’t want to marry” and “I don’t want to get married” and “No, I won’t be getting married” and then 2 minutes later they are mutually saying “I love you!” and it is a completely serious relationship! So I know what I said…young love and all that…cut them slack, you never really know when you’re young. But I’m just saying. Chill out on the extremes, please. Just a bit. kthanks.

A quick quip about Insomnia Con: was the Talent Show really relevant? Was it really necessary? No? I didn’t think so. Maybe its a cute thing to put in a YA book for couples to do together but man, it does not seem to fit realistically with app building. Sorry, Sandhya Menon.

All right, those are my thoughts on “When Dimple Met Rishi.” Overall, I am super impressed at how well this book has done for a debut! Congratulations and best of luck on your future endeavors, Ms. Menon!

Listening to: “No Man’s Land” – Wonder Woman Soundtrack

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Paintbrush by Hannah Bucchin

32452313So I admit that I was drawn to the beautiful colors on the cover of this one. And its quite fitting because the plot centers around two teens who were raised “in a commune full of hippies and mountain folk.” That being said, just like hippies and mountain folk, the book is very laid back and pretty slow moving so don’t expect much action or quick pacing or even very much angst. Things just happen, and the characters deal with them. Mitchell (athletic, funny, good-looking, ready for college away from the commune) and Josie (sunshine-loving, overall-wearing, community lifestyle proud) grew up together and slowly develop a relationship after Mitchell’s mom admits to having an affair.

For me, this book never took off as much as I hoped. I always appreciate books with diversity and books that have new and different settings, which this certainly did (I mean, an old woman who does naked yoga every morning? Show me another book that has that!). But I found it to stretch far wider than it did deep. I like depth as well. For being so different, Josie and Mitchell actually sounded pretty similar to me in their reactions. And then for liking each other, they were so judgemental of each other. What gives?? Oh well. By the time their romance was in bloom, it was cute and sweet and well written. Which was a huge plus. Not only was the romance writing great, but the writing of the scenery and the community was wonderful as well. I really enjoyed that.

** Thank you to Blaze Publishing for providing me with an eARC in exchange for a honest review **Book release date: July 11, 2018**

Listening to: “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison

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“The Library of Fates” by Aditi Khorana

I was a little skeptical about this book because the author’s first book, Mirror in the Sky, received ratings that were quite low on Goodreads (3.29 as on 7/9). I decided to give this book a try because I was offered a free ARC from Penguin’s First to Read program, the cover is beautiful, and YA book companies were making quite a buzz about it. I am SO glad I gave it a go. Now I am on the bandwagon and recommending that everyone mark the release date of July 18th on your calendars and go buy it and read it on that day!!

32930680The Library of Fates opens with a really neat story called The Parable of Trees. (I, personally love trees and nature so I was hooked in a second!) Then we get into the rest of the book with our main character Princess Amrita, who lives an easy, sheltered life in the kingdom of Shalingar. Until the day that the Emporer of Macedon–known for being a brutal man–comes to finalize the terms of their arranged marriage and Amrita loses everything. She flees the palace and sets off on a journey that will completely transform not only her, but all those she loves.

What I really loved about this book is that most of the things that I expected would happen did not. I would think to myself “She’s going to abandon the plan to go to X and go to the Library in stead. I mean, that’s the title of the book.” But nope! The plot absolutely did not happen how I thought it would, and I loved that!!

The characters surprised me around every turn, and part of the beauty of it all was how magic and folklore was seamlessly woven into the story. There were so many elements to it and they weren’t so complex that I was bored or confused like in some fantasy books. It was a really good balance so as to make it just mystical enough to be really beautiful and special. Plus everything came out full circle in a really great way. I just loved it.

So overall, I enjoyed it enough to where I was given a free e-copy and I will probably purchase my own hard copy for my shelves. I know it won’t be for everyone, but that’s my take on it. It was a pretty quick read at 354 pages. I devoured it in about 2 days and could have read it faster if I didn’t have a lot of things going on. But this is one I could see myself reading again, and I don’t see myself forgetting anytime soon.

Listening to: “The Gateway” by Ahmad Ebadi

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“The Fixer” by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Ok, so this book was recommended to me by a friend and when I picked it up I just thought “eh, this will be okay” but I am actually surprised by how much I enjoyed it! Jennifer Lynn Barnes has actually written several books (“26 distinct works, according to Goodreads”) and I have seen them in stores quite frequently but just have never picked them up. The covers and titles don’t really catch my eye, but I wish I would have sooner because the quality of writing is real! It is definitely good YA thriller/mystery writing and I have been missing out! So now onto the book.

25781800The Fixer (see, not too appealing of a title…what are we talking about? A plumber? Carpenter?) is about sixteen year-old Tess who is uprooted from life with her grandfather on a farm to the center of political life in Washington DC with her older sister Ivy. Not only has Tess not seen Ivy in years, Ivy also has a top secret job in DC as a “fixer,” someone who fixes problems for top politicians and officials, such as the President and First Lady. After walking into an incident in a school bathroom where a girl is crying over shared photos, Tess confronts the offending party and soon finds herself being called the school’s “fixer.”

I thought that Jennifer Lynn Barnes did a fantastic job with the overall writing of the book. The plot and the scandals were done so well. Tess got repetitive in her processes sometimes and just a little naggy at her friends, but really the characters were pretty great as well. I was also really surprised at how unpredictable the book was. I thought that, especially for a YA novel, things would be easy to figure out and would resolve quickly, but no. Plus–biggest shocker of all–there is no love story. So there are not pages and pages of mindless flirting and snogging. Its all investigating and sleuthing. Impressive.

The only reason that I gave it 4 stars in stead of 5 is because the book is definitely meant to go on into the second book. Its not a cliffhanger, per se, but it leaves off in a spot where you want to know what will happen next in the character’s lives! And that’s one thing that the author is great at as well is getting you invested in the actual familial lives, backgrounds, and relationships of the characters. You’re pretty invested by the end and you just have to read on into book 2! There is no book 3 and I don’t know if there will be or not in the future, but so far everything has been a hailstorm of action and intrigue so I can’t wait to see where the next book takes us!

Listening to: “Not Afraid Anymore” by Halsey