Category: Reviews

MINI-REVIEW: A Madness So Discreet *Non-Spoiler*

a_madness_so_discreetA Madness So Discreet

By: Mindy McGinnis

Grace Mae knows madness.

She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum.

When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars, where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past.

In this beautifully twisted historical thriller, Mindy McGinnis, acclaimed author of Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust, explores the fine line between sanity and insanity, good and evil—and the madness that exists in all of us.

Continue reading “MINI-REVIEW: A Madness So Discreet *Non-Spoiler*”

ARC REVIEW: Rebels Like Us *Non-Spoiler*

rebelslikeusRebels Like Us

By: Liz Reinhardt

Culture shock knocks city girl Agnes “Nes” Murphy-Pujols off-kilter when she’s transplanted mid–senior year from Brooklyn to a small Southern town after her mother’s relationship with a coworker self-destructs. On top of the move, Nes is nursing a broken heart and severe homesickness, so her plan is simple: keep her head down, graduate and get out. Too bad that flies out the window on day one, when she opens her smart mouth and pits herself against the school’s reigning belle and the principal. 

Her rebellious streak attracts the attention of local golden boy Doyle Rahn, who teaches Nes the ropes at Ebenezer. As her friendship with Doyle sizzles into something more, Nes discovers the town she’s learning to like has an insidious undercurrent of racism. The color of her skin was never something she thought about in Brooklyn, but after a frightening traffic stop on an isolated road, Nes starts to see signs everywhere—including at her own high school where, she learns, they hold proms. Two of them. One black, one white.

Nes and Doyle band together with a ragtag team of classmates to plan an alternate prom. But when a lit cross is left burning in Nes’s yard, the alterna-prommers realize that bucking tradition comes at a price. Maybe, though, that makes taking a stand more important than anything.

Continue reading “ARC REVIEW: Rebels Like Us *Non-Spoiler*”

REVIEW: Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) *Spoiler-Free*

truthwitchTruthwitch

By Susan Dennard

In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she’s a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden – lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult’s true powers are hidden even from herself.

In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls’ heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) *Spoiler-Free*”

Stranger Things: Season 1, Episode 2- Chapter Two: The Weirdo on Maple Street REVIEW

***There will be spoilers for this episode in this review!***

A few days after watching the first episode of Stranger Things, I decided that I’d watch the second episode. This review is long over-due, but I’ll express my thoughts on this episode just as I promised. If you haven’t already, check out my review for the first episode here. Continue reading “Stranger Things: Season 1, Episode 2- Chapter Two: The Weirdo on Maple Street REVIEW”

We Were Liars Mini-Review

we_were_liarsWe Were Liars

By: E. Lockhart

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from New York Times bestselling author, National Book Award finalist, and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

Read it.

And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

So this will be my first ever mini-review. Basically, whenever I read a book and I decide that I don’t have all that much to say on it (whether it’s because it’s a book that is best when you go in blind, or if I just don’t exactly know my thoughts on it) I will write a mini-review for it. These reviews will probably be 500 or less words and not structured like my other reviews. These reviews will also all be spoiler-free, as are most of my reviews. I think that We Were Liars is the perfect book to start off with because it’s a book that’s best when you go in not knowing anything. It’s also a short book, so a mini-review kind of fits with that. So anyway, let me express some opinions of mine on this book.

So I have heard nothing but amazing things about this book on every platform we bookworms invade (ie: Goodreads, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube,…) so I had to pick it up myself. I bought the book but, like usual, it stayed on m shelves gathering dust for months before I actually picked it up and cracked the spine. My sister actually saw the book on my shelf first and decided that she wanted to read it. After she raved about it, and I finished the book I had currently been reading, I picked the book up and finished it in that same day.

This book was such a quick read. I read this book faster than any other book I’ve read in my life. That being said, there were flaws and things I didn’t like all that much about this book. I won’t go into detail, but the main protagonist is unreliable at best and she’s not nearly as smart as she thinks she is. She’s privileged and spoiled rotten by her rich family. This leads to her making bad decisions, of course, because that’s what happens in the real world.

This book leaves you questioning everything the character does or says or thinks. You don’t know what’s actually real or what’s a figment of the character’s imagination. I think it’s a wonderful way to captivate readers and to keep them hooked in a story. I want to read more books with unreliable narrators like this one. If y’all have any suggestions, please let me know!

I’m actually surprised by how invested I got in this story, and the ending completely wrecked me. When I finished the book – I kid you not – I sat there on my couch with the book lying on my lap with my mouth hanging wide open. And once the surprise passed, anger and bewilderment took place. I told myself “Well that was a waste of my time” and things like “You can’t just write an entire book and then end it like that“.  I honestly think I’m still in denial over this one.

4_stars

I still can’t bring myself to rate it anything lower than 4 stars because it was truly a greatly crafted book. E. Lockhart surely knows how to write a captivating read that keeps you on the edge of your seat, questioning your own questions. I would recommend this book to anybody who loves a good mystery read, or if you just need a short book to read on a dreary day. After all, I read this book on a dreary day and it certainly made the day more eventful for me.


What were your thoughts on this book if you’ve read it? Did you enjoy it or did you think it was a waste of your time? Let me know in the comments below! And try and keep everything spoiler-free! You don’t want to spoil the book for somebody else!

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Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children #1) REVIEW

missperegrinecoverMiss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

By: Ransom Riggs

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.

A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

*This review is spoiler-free!*

My Review:

As everybody has probably heard this book – and it’s movie, of course – there’s not much explaining to do about the plot and genre this book fits in. Although you’d firstly think it’s horror or creepy in some way, it really isn’t. I mean, a few of the pictures are vile, but aside from that, there wasn’t much creepiness in this book. This disappointed me a bit because although I’m not a fan of horror novels, I read this book for October’s pick of Hype or Like Friday. Yes, I read this book in October. That’s how behind I am on my reviews. But this book not only disappointed in the sense that it wasn’t scary, but also in the sense that it was boring, and our protagonist was boring. That was my downfall with this book, the fact that it took so long for anything to happen, as well as the protagonist having as much personality as a cardboard box.

World Development:

So I think Ransom Riggs did pretty good with the world development. Or at least with creating an atmosphere with the island Jacob visits and the little bubble of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children that he enters. That part was done extremely well, I think, and sometimes world development is the most important aspect of a book. But  good world building also needs good characters.

Character Development:

As far as the characters and their development goes, I think more could’ve been done. Jacob was overall a boring protagonist who was bland and nothing special. I liked how he was a male protagonist since there haven’t been many male protagonists in books that I’ve read. Aside from that, Jacob was still as – if not more – hormonal and annoying as the female protagonists I’ve read over the years. I’m not going to spoil anything in particular, but there was a relationship between Jacob and one of the peculiar that was just strange and downright wrong. The entire relationship is built from something that couldn’t in any shape or form be healthy or real, for that matter.

That aside, there were interesting supporting characters, the peculiar children to be specific, who had their own unique qualities. The only thing is, I felt like Riggs was trying so hard, possibly too hard, to make these children different and unique. I liked the uniqueness, don’t get me wrong, but there’s a difference between creating organically unique and fleshed-out characters, and characters who break stereotypes but aren’t all that unique as you’re led to believe at first. If any of that makes sense.

Plot:

Now the plot, the plot was basically non-existent for quite a while. Jacob was basically just roaming around the island with no idea what the heck he was going to do next throughout the entirety of the novel. He didn’t grow a spine or part of a brain until the book was coming to a close. I’m hoping for a better sequel. Yes, I’m continuing with this book series. It was really good once the story started unfolding, and I did enjoy the writing style and the peculiar world that was being  developed. Plus, it’s not like this is a very long series so I won’t have to suffer through a lot of books if they’re bad. But I’m hoping for improvement in the upcoming installments.

Let me know your thoughts on the book and my review in the comments!

3stars

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Shadowhunters: Season 2, Episode 1- This Guilty Blood REVIEW

So before I write anything on this episode, I’d like to mention that I never got the chance to finish season 1 of Shadowhunters. The only place I could watch it was on the Freeform app or website and there were ads about every 5 minutes. The show wasn’t worth watching for all of the ads that there were, so I only made it about halfway through the season, and I didn’t find the show interesting enough to finish the season, so I just jumped right into season 2, since the trailers looked interesting enough. But it’s a good thing that there’s a ‘Previously on Shadowhunters’ at the beginning of the episode, so that I’m not confused. Fair warning, there are spoilers in this review for the premiere of season 2 of Shadowhunters.

The episode starts off with Jace on a ship of some sort with Valentine. And then Clary appears, and Jace fights with Valentine (with an awful song choice playing over the fight). The fight ends with Jace supposedly killing Valentine, and then he brings Clary down into the ship with him, where he fights (and kills) another Valentine. That’s when the ‘Valentine’ morphs into somebody else. And then Valentine’s minions start surrounding Jace and Clary, and Clary turns into Valentine (the real Valentine). It’s confusing to explain. Then blah blah blah, Jace gets captured again, and Valentine shows Jace that if he tries and escapes the ship he’ll turn into a burnt french fry.

Back at the Institute, Alec, Izzy, Clary, Magnus, and some blonde chick I know Alec was about to get married to, are hastily talking about what they’re going to do in order to get Jace back. Blah blah blah, Alec acts like a jerk, even when Magnus tries and comforts him, and it’s just a mess of parabatai hormones… is that what it’s called? Anyway, throughout this episode Alec and Magnus go through some stuff since Alec is going insane with Jace gone, his parabatai, his literal other half. Magnus tries to re-assure him that he’ll do everything in his power to get Jace back. And then, the S.S. Malec is sailing yet again *Hallelujah plays in the background*.

We also got to see vampire Simon. I was so excited for this! I hadn’t gotten to the part in season 1 where he was turned, so I hadn’t seen vampire Simon yet, but here he is and he’s awesome. I love how even though he’s a vampire he’s still just an awkward, nerdy guy. And it was just hilarious when he was saying hi to Jocelyn and all that and then his vampire fangs released. Jocelyn’s face was priceless.

simon_gif

I mean, having that guy become a vampire is probably both the best and worst idea Cassandra Clare has ever had. Oh who am I kidding? I love Simon as a vampire.

That aside, Simon stays in a boathouse beside Luke’s pack’s headquarters and then Clary comes to talk with him. Luke calls Jocelyn to let her know that they’re there, and then Jocelyn comes and takes both Clary’s stele and phone… and then locks them in the boathouse. Simon then works to get them out by using his vampire strength and hurtling himself into the door repeatedly. Clary tells him it’s no use, and then they have a conversation about how things have changed so fast, that there was once a time when their lives were normal and all that. In the middle of their conversation, the door falls to the ground and they’re free.

A few more things happen, but I don’t want to make this review a recap of the episode, so I’ll just summarize by saying that Valentine is forcing Jace to kill vampires and Clary and Simon find Jace, but not before Jocelyn, who shoots Valentine in the leg. She tries to shoot Jace, but Clary and Simon stop her.

Overall, this episode was okay. I’ll let you know my overall thoughts through a Pro and Con list below:

pros-1

3stars

What were your thoughts on the season 2 premiere of Shadowhunters? Do you agree or disagree with me? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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Passenger (Passenger #1) REVIEW

passengerPassage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them—whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home… forever.

*This Review is Non-Spoiler!*

My Review:

This book was so hyped up before it was even released at the start of 2016, and I saw it everywhere on BookTube. That’s not why I picked it up, though. The synopsis promised an action-packed read with time-travelling pirates. I’ve been searching for both a time-travelling book and a pirate book, so this book should’ve been a 5 star read for me. Too bad it lacked in a lot of aspects for me. Whether it was the writing or the plot, this book wasn’t what it made itself out to be.

World Development:

Throughout the novel, Bracken gives us all little hints and bits of information about the world that our characters are set in. She unveils rules concerning the time-travelling and the information about the clashing families throughout the book, but it’s done in a way that’s way too much information for this one book. I’m a huge fan of fantasy and have read a couple of high fantasy novels, so I’m used to new information getting thrown at me, but I think Passenger went a little bit too crazy with the information given about the world, especially for a YA book. It would’ve been better if Bracken left out some of the information that she gave us, and instead explored it in the sequel, because balance is something that really could’ve saved this book for me.

Aside from the bad, I think Bracken did really well with the world development of each different time-zone and location as her characters traveled through time and space. It’s not often that I’m able to actually visualize a location that I’ve never visited like I had with this book. Bracken is a master at describing locations, with a rich imaginative detail that oftentimes sent shivers down my spine. Now that saved this book for me.

Character Development:

Etta Spencer is our protagonist. She’s a violinist who is pressured by her mother to push herself to the edge in order to be the best that she possibly can. Her mother has always been distant for her, but one day something happens to her while she’s at a violin recital/competition and her world is turned upside down. I won’t exactly say what happens, but it does have to do with her mother.

Now, for our leading man, we have the ever-so-handsome Nicholas Carter. I would’ve swooned over him if he didn’t go all doe-y eyed the second he saw Etta. Carter is a pirate (finally a book about time-traveling pirates! Ergh I had been waiting for this for way too long), who’s often discriminated because of the dark color of his skin. I believe he’s mixed, his mother was a slave and then his father… I’m not sure, I can’t remember.

Anyway, he was sort of brought up by a Captain and raised on a ship as that Captain’s own. I really wish that Carter’s actions weren’t effected by his immediate googly-eyes for our protagonist, because frankly, I thought this book might’ve ended up being different than all other YA books. Or maybe that was just what I was hoping would happen. The romance killed this book for me. It was too rushed, and I just honestly for once didn’t want the main girl character to get together with the main guy character. I applaud Bracken for making a mixed race couple, but it was just way too soon for them. I don’t count this as a spoiler because honestly, this is what seems to happen in 98% of YA books out there.

Aside from our main characters, there were a few villains as well. I mean, what’s a good story without a deviating villain? There were the Ironwood clan who are intimidating to say the least, and although I didn’t understand all of why they were doing what they were doing, or their history, they were still good villains. Again, there was just so much information and history thrown at me all at once through this book, I don’t remember nearly enough of it. I also marked this book as DNF a few months back before I decided to come back to this book and finish it, and that was mainly due to the droning on and on of characters. Bracken needs to learn how to balance out the information she gives, because it ruins the novel for me as a whole and makes it seem like the encounters the characters have with each other is specifically just so the reader finds out more information. I get that, but it was used way too much in this book.

Plot:

The good thing about this book – or shall I say, the saving grace – was the plot and story-line throughout this book. The plot flowed nicely and new events were unraveled perfectly. The characters were just as in the dark as we were and I liked that aspect. I won’t say much about the plot, since this review is non-spoiler, but I do like how the plot focused on Etta finding her mother. It shows just how driven she is. Etta is definitely a Gryffindor.

Have you read this book? If so, what’re your thoughts on it? Do you agree or disagree with me? Let me know in the comments below!

3stars

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (ADDSU #1) REVIEW

garistotle_and_dante_discover_the_secrets_of_the_universe_coverAristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

By: Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

My Review:

This book is definitely one of my all-time favorites and I can see myself going back and re-reading it multiple times. The writing style is beautiful and the story and characters are so fleshed out and real. I connected with them on a level that I usually am not able to when reading a book, especially a stand-alone. This book is no doubt a 5-star read for me.

World Development:

What peaked my interest when I first saw this book (aside from the beautiful cover) is the fact that it’s set in Texas. Although it’s set in my home state, it’s set in El Paso, a city I’ve never visited. El Paso is more towards the Mexico border (hence the main characters being Hispanic) than where I live, so the world development was important to me. I knew that El Paso was mainly just desert so I was happy that played an element in this story. Ari and Dante drive out to the desert when they want to get away from everything. The world development played a huge part in the character development and I found that aspect of the novel beautiful and unique in it’s own sense.

Character Development:

I think that the character development in this novel was the most important element of all. Ari and Dante both go through so much in this novel to form the people they become at the end. They grow as characters and discover who they want to be, as well as their sexuality. The best thing about these characters is that they’re realistic and human, and they rely on each other more than anything else in the world. When they’re separated, bad things seem to happen. They’re better together, and that’s why they’re soulmates best friends. They go through life’s most difficult struggles together, and help each other navigate through the harsh realities of life, just like a true companion should do. They’re the ultimate book OTP.

Plot:

The plot in this book seemed very natural and was planned out very well by the author. This book starts off during summer, and then ends during the beginning or end of another summer (I believe, this review is very belated, so it’s been months since I read this book). I just liked how the book had a nice flow to it, the writing was very poetic, which allowed for great transitions and short (but somehow still informative) transitions between characters, situations, and locations. I cannot wait until the sequel comes out later this year (I believe later this year, or at least I hope).

Let me know what you think of the book and my review in the comments below!

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A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird #1) REVIEW

athousandpiecesofyouA Thousand Pieces of You

By: Claudia Gray

Cloud Atlas meets Orphan Black in this epic dimension-bending trilogy by New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray about a girl who must chase her father’s killer through multiple dimensions.

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their groundbreaking achievements. Their most astonishing invention, called the Firebird, allows users to jump into multiple universes—and promises to revolutionize science forever. But then Marguerite’s father is murdered, and the killer—her parent’s handsome, enigmatic assistant Paul— escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite refuses to let the man who destroyed her family go free. So she races after Paul through different universes, always leaping into another version of herself. But she also meets alternate versions of the people she knows—including Paul, whose life entangles with hers in increasingly familiar ways. Before long she begins to question Paul’s guilt—as well as her own heart. And soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is far more sinister than she expected.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores an amazingly intricate multi-universe where fate is unavoidable, the truth elusive, and love the greatest mystery of all.

**This review is non-spoiler!**

My Review:

Let me start by saying that this book left me breathless. I was hanging on the edge of my seat for a large duration of the novel, and it’s quite difficult to sway me like that. I’m so glad this book wasn’t just a pretty cover. It’s so much more than that. I was having such a hard time not to fangirl by the end, and I think I did a good job but OH. MY. GOD. I was not prepared for some of the twists that came in the second half of the novel. I’m still processing a lot of it. This book was fantastic in every way. There was the perfect dosage of romance, a strong heroine who needs no guy to save her, and a wonderful plot that kept on getting better the more you read. I’m definitely looking forward to reading the second novel in this trilogy, it’s bound to be even more packed with action and plot twists.

World Development:

There was a lot of world development needed in this book. In fact, the author had to develop multiple worlds. That’s right. Since this book is about travelling through different dimensions, that means the author had to build different versions similar, but not the same, as the original world our protagonist is from. It’s a complex and messy task Claudia Gray set up for herself, and it could’ve gone wrong in so many ways, but I think she handled it with excellence.

Character Development:

Our protagonist, Marguerite, goes through a lot of crap in this book. Her alliances are tested, and she is willing to put her life on the line if it means keeping the ones she loves safe. She is the heroine I’ve been waiting to read for a very long time. She’s not annoying, but she’s strong and stubborn when need be. She’s so full of heart and determination that she might as well be from Undertale. She doesn’t overestimate herself, but she also doesn’t put herself down to the point of annoyance. She never loses hope, even when it seems like all hope is lost.

I may just be getting ahead of myself, but I believe Marguerite is the next great YA heroine, up there with Hermione Granger and Annabeth Chase. She is just that good, and I give her a lot of respect for persevering through the thick and thin.What also makes her so awesome is the fact that she doesn’t rely on a man to save her. Instead, she brings it upon herself to save them. Not just that, but she makes sure they know that she can handle herself and that she’s going to save them sometimes, that she’s not the one that always needs saving.

That aside, I liked Paul the most out of all the characters (Marguerite excluded, of course). You’ll see why if you’ve read the book. This is a non-spoiler review after all. Theo was fine, but I always had a gut feeling that something was wrong with him. He just didn’t seem right throughout the novel. And that question was answered by the end of the book, thankfully.

Plot:

So much happens in this book. Much more than I was expecting from a 360 page novel, to be honest. What surprised me was the fact that although a lot happened in a book that was reasonably short for the number of events that occurred, it wasn’t rushed. Usually books are either rushed or painfully slow, but this book found a good medium that seemed to work for the plot and characters. Nothing was happening too quickly, yet I was never bored. That’s masterful storytelling right there.


This book was read for Hype or Like Friday. What did you think of my review? Also, have you read this book? If so, let me know your own thoughts in the comments!

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