ARC Review: Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller (ARC August Scavenger Hunt | Review 8)

MASK OF SHADOWS
Author: Linsey Miller
Series: Mask of Shadows #1
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
Pub Date: August 29, 2017
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Source: ARC from ALAAC 2017

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Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class and the nobles who destroyed their home. 

When Sal Leon steals a poster announcing open auditions for the Left Hand, a powerful collection of the Queen’s personal assassins named for the rings she wears — Ruby, Emerald, Amethyst, and Opal — their world changes. They know it’s a chance for a new life.

Except the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. But Sal must survive to put their real reason for auditioning into play: revenge.

TITLE: boring | nothing special | pretty good | caught my eye | perfection | music to my ears
COVER: not my favorite | goes well with rest of the series | boring | generic | pretty | series cover change | beautiful | HEART EYES
POV: 1st | 2nd | 3rd limited | 3rd omniscient | multiple POVs | too many POVs
CONCEPT: original as heck | run of the mill in genre | average | has potential | great idea, bad execution
MOOD: dark | hilarious| light hearted | romantic | depressing | suspenseful | fluffy | mysterious
PACING: snail’s pace | couldn’t keep up | mix of fast and slow | slow in the wrong places | fast in the wrong places | what even is pacing?
CHARACTERS: i’m in love | couldn’t connect | too many | well developed (all) | infuriating | annoying | precious babies | underdeveloped (all)| a mix of good and bad | diverse | okay | new favorite characters
ROMANCE: none | steamy | fluffy | OTP status | cute | not center stage | barely there | cheesy | instalove | slow burn | i ship it | love triangle
DIVERSITY: none | lgbtq+ (MC is gender fluid, in a relationship with a girl) | racial (MC is not white, I believe) | religion | disabled | mental illness | body | #ownvoices

 

GUYS, THIS BOOK!!!!! If it hasn’t been on your radar then I have no idea where you’ve been. HELLO, GENDER FLUID ASSASSIN!! Assassin stories are a little overdone in YA these days, but with a protagonist who is gender fluid, I was super pumped (as you can probably tell).

No matter what my opinion is, I think everyone should give this book a chance because we need to support diverse books. Plus this idea sounds awesome!

Sadly, this book missed the mark for me.

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ARC Review: A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena (ARC August Scavenger Hunt | Review 7)

A STRANGER IN THE HOUSE
Author: Shari Lapena
Genre: Adult, Mystery, Thriller
Pub Date: August 15, 2017
Publisher: Pemela Dorman Books
Source: ARC from ALAAC 2017

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In this neighborhood, danger lies close to home. A domestic thriller packed full of secrets, and a twisty story that never stops—from the bestselling author of The Couple Next Door

He looks at her, concerned. “How do you feel?” She wants to say, Terrified. Instead, she says, with a faint smile, “Glad to be home.”

Karen and Tom Krupp are happy—they’ve got a lovely home in upstate New York, they’re practically newlyweds, and they have no kids to interrupt their comfortable life together. But one day, Tom returns home to find Karen has vanished—her car’s gone and it seems she left in a rush. She even left her purse—complete with phone and ID—behind.

There’s a knock on the door—the police are there to take Tom to the hospital where his wife has been admitted. She had a car accident, and lost control as she sped through the worst part of town.

The accident has left Karen with a concussion and a few scrapes. Still, she’s mostly okay—except that she can’t remember what she was doing or where she was when she crashed. The cops think her memory loss is highly convenient, and they suspect she was up to no good. 

Karen returns home with Tom, determined to heal and move on with her life. Then she realizes something’s been moved. Something’s not quite right. Someone’s been in her house. And the police won’t stop asking questions.

Because in this house, everyone’s a stranger. Everyone has something they’d rather keep hidden. Something they might even kill to keep quiet.

TITLE: boring | nothing special | pretty good | caught my eye | perfection | music to my ears
COVER: not my favorite | goes well with rest of the series | boring | generic | pretty | series cover change | beautiful | HEART EYES
POV: 1st | 2nd | 3rd limited | 3rd omniscient | multiple POVs | too many POVs
CONCEPT: original as heck | run of the mill in genre | average | has potential | great idea, bad execution
MOOD: dark | hilarious | light hearted | romantic | depressing | suspenseful | fluffy | mysterious
PACING: snail’s pace | couldn’t keep up | mix of fast and slow | slow in the wrong places | fast in the wrong places | what even is pacing?
CHARACTERS: i’m in love | couldn’t connect | too many | well developed (all) | infuriating | annoying | precious babies | underdeveloped (all)| a mix of good and bad | diverse | okay | new favorite characters
ROMANCE: none | steamy | fluffy | OTP status | cute | not center stage | barely there | cheesy | instalove | slow burn | i ship it | love triangle
DIVERSITY: none | lgbtq+ | racial | religion | disabled | mental illness | body | #ownvoices

 

Another thriller, but this time, it’s an adult book! Since this is adult, this is going to be more a ~mini~ review, so a bit shorter than my usual ones. But! I still have plenty to talk about.

I read Shari Lapena’s first book, The Couple Next Door, and I thought it was pretty good, a solid 3 star. My problems were more with the story itself than the writing, so I had high hopes for this book. I crossed my fingers and jumped into the story.

Not perfect, but a lot better than the author’s first book!

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ARC Review: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson (ARC August Scavenger Hunt | Review 6)

AN ENCHANTMENT OF RAVENS
Author: Margaret Rogerson
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
Pub Date: September 26, 2017
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Source: ARC from ALAAC 2017

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Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized among them. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes – a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love, violating the fair folks’ ruthless Good Law. There’s only one way to save both their lives, Isobel must drink from the Green Well, whose water will transform her into a fair one—at the cost of her Craft, for immortality is as stagnant as it is timeless.

Isobel has a choice: she can sacrifice her art for a future, or arm herself with paint and canvas against the ancient power of the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

TITLE: boring | nothing special | pretty good | caught my eye | perfection | music to my ears
COVER: not my favorite | goes well with rest of the series | boring | generic | pretty | series cover change | beautiful | HEART EYES
POV: 1st | 2nd | 3rd limited | 3rd omniscient | multiple POVs | too many POVs
CONCEPT: original as heck | run of the mill in genre | average | has potential | great idea, bad execution
MOOD: dark | hilarious | light hearted | romantic | depressing | suspenseful | fluffy | mysterious
PACING: snail’s pace | couldn’t keep up | mix of fast and slow | slow in the wrong places | fast in the wrong places | what even is pacing?
CHARACTERS: i’m in love | couldn’t connect | too many | well developed (all) | infuriating | annoying | precious babies | underdeveloped (all)| a mix of good and bad | diverse | okay | new favorite characters
ROMANCE: none | steamy | fluffy | OTP status | cute | not center stage | barely there | cheesy | instalove | slow burn | i ship it | love triangle
DIVERSITY: none | lgbtq+ | racial | religion | disabled | mental illness | body | #ownvoices

 

I sort of knew I would either love or hate An Enchantment of Ravens as soon as I heard of it.

Wait, wait, let me explain. The thing about fairy/fae/fey stories is that I’ve read so many that I’m very picky about them. There’s something like Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series, which I love, and then there’s something like SJM’s take on the fey, which is very meh for me, to say the least. So I went into this book a little hesitantly, unsure of which version I would get.

Guys, this book is definitely the good version. Possibly the best version ever.

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ARC Review: Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig (ARC August Scavenger Hunt | Review 5)

LAST SEEN LEAVING
Author: Caleb Roehrig
Genre: YA, Thriller, Mystery
Pub Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Source: ARC from ALAAC 2016

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Flynn’s girlfriend has disappeared. How can he uncover her secrets without revealing his own?

Flynn’s girlfriend, January, is missing. The cops are asking questions he can’t answer, and her friends are telling stories that don’t add up. All eyes are on Flynn—as January’s boyfriend, he must know something.

But Flynn has a secret of his own. And as he struggles to uncover the truth about January’s disappearance, he must also face the truth about himself.

TITLE: boring | nothing special | pretty good | caught my eye | perfection | music to my ears
COVER: not my favorite | goes well with rest of the series | boring | generic | pretty | series cover change | beautiful | HEART EYES
POV: 1st | 2nd | 3rd limited | 3rd omniscient | multiple POVs (included flashbacks) | too many POVs
CONCEPT: original as heck | run of the mill in genre | average | has potential | great idea, bad execution
MOOD: dark | hilarious | light hearted | romantic | depressing | suspenseful | fluffy | mysterious
PACING: snail’s pace | couldn’t keep up | mix of fast and slow | slow in the wrong places | fast in the wrong places | what even is pacing?
CHARACTERS: i’m in love | couldn’t connect | too many | well developed (all) | infuriating | annoying | precious babies | underdeveloped (all)| a mix of good and bad | diverse | okay | new favorite characters
ROMANCE: none | steamy | fluffy | OTP status | cute | not center stage | barely there | cheesy | instalove | slow burn | i ship it | love triangle
DIVERSITY: none | lgbtq+ (MC is gay)| racial | religion | disabled | mental illness | body | #ownvoices

 

I think I’m becoming a bit predictable–two YA thriller reviews in a row! Although this book is being reviewed during my ARC August scavenger hunt, this book was already released last year! However, I have an ARC copy of it I didn’t get around to last year, so I decided to read it this August. This way, I can at least attempt to mix new ARCs with old ones, lol.

So, are you hoping for a YA thriller with gay protagonists, shifty female characters, a Gone Girl esque feel, and tons of twists? That’s what this book aims to be, but I think it fell a little short.

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ARC Review: Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart (ARC August Scavenger Hunt | Review 4)

GENUINE FRAUD
Author: E. Lockhart
Genre: YA, Thriller, Mystery
Pub Date: September 5, 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Source: ARC from ALAAC 2017

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The story of a young woman whose diabolical smarts are her ticket into a charmed life. But how many times can someone reinvent themselves? You be the judge.

Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.
Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete. 
An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two. 
A bad romance, or maybe three.
Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains. 
A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.

TITLE: boring | nothing special | pretty good | caught my eye | perfection | music to my ears
COVER: not my favorite | goes well with rest of the series | boring | generic | pretty | series cover change | beautiful | HEART EYES
POV: 1st | 2nd | 3rd limited | 3rd omniscient | multiple POVs | too many POVs
CONCEPT: original as heck | run of the mill in genre | average | has potential | great idea, bad execution
MOOD: dark | hilarious | light hearted | romantic | depressing | suspenseful | fluffy | mysterious
PACING: snail’s pace | couldn’t keep up | mix of fast and slow | slow in the wrong places | fast in the wrong places | what even is pacing?
CHARACTERS: i’m in love | couldn’t connect | too many | well developed (all) | infuriating | annoying | precious babies | underdeveloped (all)| a mix of good and bad | diverse | okay | new favorite characters
ROMANCE: none | steamy | fluffy | OTP status | cute | not center stage | barely there | cheesy | instalove | slow burn | i ship it | love triangle
DIVERSITY: none | lgbtq+ | racial | religion | disabled | mental illness | body | #ownvoices

 

Surprise, surprise—I’m reviewing another thriller! I read We Were Liars so long ago I barely remember the book, so I was really excited to see another mystery/thriller from the author. Surprisingly, I haven’t heard a thing about it, so I went into the story pretty much blind since the blurb doesn’t offer up much about the story.

Lockhart’s writing style definitely shines through in this book, so if you liked her other books or you want to try her stories for the first time, hopefully this book can shed some light on what’s in store for you.

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ARC Review: They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera (ARC August Scavenger Hunt | Review 3)

THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END
Author: Adam Silvera
Genre: YA, Contemporary w/Sci-Fi elements, Romance
Pub Date: September 5, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: ARC from ALAAC 2017

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On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure and to live a lifetime in a single day.

TITLE: boring | nothing special | pretty good | caught my eye | perfection | music to my ears
COVER: not my favorite | goes well with rest of the series | boring | generic | pretty | series cover change | beautiful | HEART EYES
POV: 1st (main POVs) | 2nd | 3rd limited | 3rd omniscient | multiple POVs | too many POVs
CONCEPT: original as heck | run of the mill in genre | average | has potential | great idea, bad execution
MOOD: dark | hilarious | light hearted | romantic | depressing | suspenseful | fluffy | mysterious
PACING: snail’s pace | couldn’t keep up | mix of fast and slow | slow in the wrong places | fast in the wrong places | what even is pacing?
CHARACTERS: i’m in love | couldn’t connect | too many | well developed (all) | infuriating | annoying | precious babies | underdeveloped (all)| a mix of good and bad | diverse | okay | new favorite characters
ROMANCE: none | steamy | fluffy | OTP status | cute | not center stage | barely there | cheesy | instalove | slow burn | i ship it | love triangle
DIVERSITY: none | lgbtq+ (m/m ship, one lead is bi, i can’t remember if the other one uses a label) | racial (both leads are latinx) | religion | disabled | mental illness | body | #ownvoices

 

I’m going to let you guys in on my not-so-secret secret: I’ve never read an Adam Silvera book. Before They Both Die at the End, I hadn’t read a single book by him. Long ago I tried to read More Happy than Not and I couldn’t get into it (GASP, I know), but TBDATE has a really awesome premise and EVERYONE on book twitter—and everywhere else, really—is talking about it, so I knew I had to read it.

Since I’ve never read a Silvera book, I want to give my honest opinion and offer other people who will be reading this author’s work for the first time a realistic idea of what to expect in They Both Die at the End. Whether you’re an old fan or a new one, hopefully this review will prepare you for the book.

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ARC Review: Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco (ARC August Scavenger Hunt | Review 2)

HUNTING PRINCE DRACULA
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper #2
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Romance
Pub Date: September 19, 2017
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Source: ARC from ALAAC 2017

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In this hotly anticipated sequel to the haunting #1 bestseller Stalking Jack the Ripper, bizarre murders are discovered in the castle of Prince Vlad the Impaler, otherwise known as Dracula. Could it be a copycat killer…or has the depraved prince been brought back to life?

Following the grief and horror of her discovery of Jack the Ripper’s true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has no choice but to flee London and its memories. Together with the arrogant yet charming Thomas Cresswell, she journeys to the dark heart of Romania, home to one of Europe’s best schools of forensic medicine…and to another notorious killer, Vlad the Impaler, whose thirst for blood became legend.

But her life’s dream is soon tainted by blood-soaked discoveries in the halls of the school’s forbidding castle, and Audrey Rose is compelled to investigate the strangely familiar murders. What she finds brings all her terrifying fears to life once again.

review-at-a-glance

TITLE: boring | nothing special | pretty good | caught my eye | perfection | music to my ears
COVER: not my favorite | goes well with rest of the series | boring | generic | pretty | series cover change | beautiful | HEART EYES
POV: 1st | 2nd | 3rd limited | 3rd omniscient | multiple POVs | too many POVs
CONCEPT: original as heck | run of the mill in genre | average | has potential | great idea, bad execution
MOOD: dark | hilarious (at times) | light hearted | romantic | depressing | suspenseful | fluffy | mysterious
PACING: snail’s pace | couldn’t keep up | mix of fast and slow | slow in the wrong places | fast in the wrong places | what even is pacing?
CHARACTERS: i’m in love | couldn’t connect | too many | well developed (all) | infuriating | annoying | precious babies | underdeveloped (all)| a mix of good and bad | diverse | okay | new favorite characters
ROMANCE: none | steamy | fluffy | OTP status | cute | not center stage | barely there | cheesy | instalove | slow burn | i ship it | love triangle
DIVERSITY: none | lgbtq+ (f/f side characters relationship) | racial (MC is Indian and British) | religion | disabled | mental illness | body | #ownvoices

 

I cannot begin to describe how excited I was for this book. Last year, I read Stalking Jack the Ripper early and I completely fell in love with Audrey Rose, the murders, and the intriguing mystery partially based off one of the most fascinating cases featuring Jack the Ripper.

The first book was very good (I gave it 5 stars), but Hunting Prince Dracula is its older, emo cousin that is ten times better. (There will be no spoilers for SJTR in my review!)

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ARC Review: Warcross by Marie Lu (ARC August Scavenger Hunt | Review 1)

WARCROSS
Author: Marie Lu
Series: Warcross #1
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Romance
Pub Date: September 12, 2017
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books
Source: ARC from ALAAC 2017

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For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

In this sci-fi thriller, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu conjures an immersive, exhilarating world where choosing who to trust may be the biggest gamble of all.

 

review-at-a-glance

TITLE: boring | nothing special | pretty good | caught my eye | perfection | music to my ears
COVER: not my favorite | goes well with rest of the series | boring | generic | pretty | series cover change | beautiful | HEART EYES
POV: 1st | 2nd | 3rd limited | 3rd omniscient | multiple POVs | too many POVs
CONCEPT: original as heck | run of the mill in genre | average | has potential | great idea, bad execution
MOOD: dark | hilarious | light hearted | romantic | depressing | suspenseful | fluffy | mysterious
PACING: snail’s pace | couldn’t keep up | mix of fast and slow | slow in the wrong places | fast in the wrong places | what even is pacing?
CHARACTERS: i’m in love | couldn’t connect | too many | well developed (all) | infuriating | annoying | precious babies | underdeveloped (all)| a mix of good and bad | diverse | okay | new favorite characters
ROMANCE: none | steamy | fluffy | OTP status | cute | not center stage | barely there | cheesy | instalove | slow burn | i ship it | love triangle
DIVERSITY: none | lgbtq+ | racial | religion | disabled | mental illness | body | #ownvoices

 

AHHHHHHHHHHH A NEW MARIE LU BOOK!!!!!! Warcross is the book I never knew I needed. As soon as the blurb was released, I was basically salivating for the futuristic sci-fi that promised both fun and pain within its pages (it is by Marie Lu, after all).

Before I start, let’s get one thing straight—I looooooooved this book and am still stunned by that wild twist at the end.

Futuristic Tokyo. Spies. Virtual reality games. Morally gray characters. Sound amazing to you? That’s because it 100% is.

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ARC August Scavenger Hunt! | Win a Free Book!

We’re halfway through ARC AUGUST, aka the month when I’m most productive and I write reviews like a fiend. I love this month because it helps me do two things–read a lot and review a lot!

Then I started thinking about the relatively low interaction with my review posts, and I thought of a fun way to shake things up. Do you like reading ARC reviews, scavenger hunts (that are easy, promise!), and winning free books? Then come learn more about participating in my ARC August review scavenger hunt!

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Review: Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson

MIDNIGHT AT THE ELECTRIC
Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson
Genre: YA, Historical, Sci-Fi, Romance
Pub Date: June 13, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Library

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Divided by time. Ignited by a spark.

Kansas, 2065. Adri has secured a slot as a Colonist—one of the lucky few handpicked to live on Mars. But weeks before launch, she discovers the journal of a girl who lived in her house over a hundred years ago, and is immediately drawn into the mystery surrounding her fate. While Adri knows she must focus on the mission ahead, she becomes captivated by a life that’s been lost in time…and how it might be inextricably tied to her own. 

Oklahoma, 1934. Amidst the fear and uncertainty of the Dust Bowl, Catherine fantasizes about her family’s farmhand, and longs for the immortality promised by a professor at a traveling show called the Electric. But as her family’s situation becomes more dire—and the suffocating dust threatens her sister’s life—Catherine must find the courage to sacrifice everything she loves in order to save the one person she loves most. 

England, 1919. In the recovery following the First World War, Lenore struggles with her grief for her brother, a fallen British soldier, and plans to sail to America in pursuit of a childhood friend. But even if she makes it that far, will her friend be the person she remembers, and the one who can bring her back to herself? 

While their stories spans thousands of miles and multiple generations, Lenore, Catherine, and Adri’s fates are entwined.

 

TITLE: boring | nothing special | pretty good | caught my eye | perfection | music to my ears
COVER: not my favorite | goes well with rest of the series | boring | generic | pretty | series cover change | beautiful | HEART EYES
POV: 1st | 2nd | 3rd limited | 3rd omniscient | multiple POVs (+diary entries) | too many POVs
CONCEPT: original as heck | run of the mill in genre | average | has potential | great idea, bad execution
MOOD: dark | hilarious | light hearted | romantic | depressing | suspenseful | fluffy | mysterious
PACING: snail’s pace | couldn’t keep up | mix of fast and slow | slow in the wrong places | fast in the wrong places | what even is pacing?
CHARACTERS: i’m in love | couldn’t connect | too many | well developed (all) | infuriating | annoying | precious babies | underdeveloped (all)| a mix of good and bad | diverse | okay | new favorite characters
ROMANCE: none | steamy | fluffy | OTP status | cute | not center stage | barely there | cheesy | instalove | slow burn | i ship it | love triangle
DIVERSITY: none | lgbtq+ | racial | religion | disabled | mental illness | body | #ownvoices

 

Full disclosure: I was first drawn to this book because I thought it could be used as a comp title for one of my manuscripts due to the 3 separate timelines. I haven’t seen any other book do something like this, so I was really excited (and hopeful!) to see how to author pulled it off.

I’m happy to report this was a quick, easy read that was enjoyable.

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