5

[ARC BOOK REVIEW] Gone Without A Trace by Mary Torjussen

Gone Without a Trace

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Adult

Series: None

Rating: 3 STARS

Release Date: April 18, 2017

Description:

A jaw-dropping novel of psychological suspense that asks, “If the love of your life disappeared without a trace, how far would you go to find out why? ”

Hannah Monroe’s boyfriend, Matt, is gone. His belongings have disappeared from their house. Every call she ever made to him, every text she ever sent, every photo of him and any sign of him on social media have vanished. It’s as though their last four years together never happened.

As Hannah struggles to get through the next few days, with humiliation and recriminations whirring through her head, she knows that she’ll do whatever it takes to find him again and get answers. But as soon as her search starts, she realizes she is being led into a maze of madness and obsession. Step by suspenseful step, Hannah discovers her only way out is to come face to face with the shocking truth…

My Thoughts:

This was quite the interesting psychological thriller. I went into this one really excited because the premise sounded awesome: a woman comes home to find her boyfriend missing? What? Unfortunately, though the pacing for this one was really well done, and this book kept me reading until the very last pages, the ending definitely fell flat on its face for me.

As I said before, the pacing was definitely well done. As soon as I started this book, I was hooked, and it really kept my interest. I feel like I’ve been doing absolutely terrible at reading this past year, so it was really nice to have an addicting read to keep up with. The mystery definitely keeps you going, especially with such an interesting premise at the basis of the novel.

I thought the characters for this one were also quite interesting. We have Hannah, our main character, and Katie, her best friend, that really drive this novel with their toxic friendship. I’m always a fan of that trope in thrillers, and this was no exception. This one proved to be a bit more subtle than as an outright thriller surrounding toxic friendships, but I still really enjoyed it. We also have James, Hannah’s husband, that was a previous boyfriend of hers when the two of them were growing up, and he played an interesting part in the book as well.

What I really thought set this thriller apart than many of the other ones coming before and after it is the fact that this one had a focus on family and its influence, much like The Roanoke Girls, except way less creepier. We get a peek into Hannah’s home life growing up and how that it’s shaped a huge part of her character, which is expanded upon as the book develops. I thought it was a really nice touch to see how her mom and her dad influenced her and played a part in what happens in the overall bigger picture of the book.

Now, the ending was what got stars docked off for me. Near the end, we get what I’d consider an interesting part, because something happens that I didn’t really expect to happen. I was really excited because I wanted to know where the book would propel from there on out. But after that point, the book got so…busy. Things were revealed, we got a flashback, even MORE things were revealed, a big thing happens, more things are revealed, more stuff happens, and then the epilogue. And it was just all too much. I wouldn’t have minded if everything were interspersed near the falling resolution, but it just happened all at once, and that’s what really bothered me the most. 

Overall, an okay psychological thriller that could’ve done with a better ending.

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A huge thanks to Berkley Publishing for the free e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review!

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4

[ARC BOOK SPOTLIGHT] The Child (Fiona Barton) & Hit or Miss Authors

THE-CHILD-by-Fiona-Barton

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Genre: Mystery

Series: None

Rating: 2.5 STARS

Publication Date: June 27, 2017

Description:

As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it’s a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but at a loss for answers, she can only pose a question: Who is the Building Site Baby?

As Kate investigates, she unearths connections to a crime that rocked the city decades earlier: A newborn baby was stolen from the maternity ward in a local hospital and was never found. Her heartbroken parents were left devastated by the loss.

But there is more to the story, and Kate is drawn—house by house—into the pasts of the people who once lived in this neighborhood that has given up its greatest mystery. And she soon finds herself the keeper of unexpected secrets that erupt in the lives of three women—and torn between what she can and cannot tell…

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Initially, I was super excited to have this book! I never thought I’d win it through First to Read because I barely win anything, so I was shocked to win this, especially since I adored Barton’s The Widow. Unfortunately, this one didn’t exactly live up to my expectations.

We follow Kate, the reporter from The Widow, as she investigates the story of a dead baby found near a construction site. Three other women also end up getting involved in this case: Emma, who has experienced a rough childhood, but quickly becomes effected because of the news of the dead baby; Jude, Emma’s mother who has a different side of the story; and Angela, who lost a baby long ago and wonders if she’s finally found her. I loved seeing how all four of these women interconnected with the mystery; it made the book truly interesting. We get to experience all of their POVs, and it always kept me guessing what truly happened. I ended up being proved wrong at one point, which reminds me why I love thrillers so much.

I think one of my issues with this book was the pacing. This book was quite slow, and I’d say it’s about the same pace of The Widow. It isn’t a fast-moving thriller at any rate, and I’d probably call it more of a mystery than anything. Though I really enjoyed the pacing in The Widow, the pacing in this book really ruined the experience for me, especially since it took me so damn long to read this one. I started getting bored and just wanting to finish it for the sake of finishing it.

I also thought this was more mystery than thriller. I’d even go as far as to say that it’s a sort of contemporary/mystery mix – you know, one of those mysteries that’s not really too dark and tends to be a bit tragic and the mystery isn’t really the main point of the novel? I will say, for those who complained about there not being a plot twist in her previous novel, they’ll probably enjoy this one much more, since there’s a couple, but I didn’t really enjoy them too much.

I thought the ending of this one was actually pretty nice. It was quite bittersweet for the tone of the novel, and I thought it tied up everything really nicely in the end, which is always good for a stand-alone. I loved seeing the characters get their own little happy ending, in their own way.

Overall, not as good as The Widow, but other people will probably enjoy this one more than I did (and already have!).

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Thanks so much to the Penguin First to Read program for giving me this e-ARC! I truly appreciate it.

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I thought a good topic for this one is talking about hit or miss authors. You know, those authors who have some books you enjoy, but also have some books you don’t enjoy, and some books just feel meh about. For me, I think the biggest culprit of this is Lauren Oliver.

I’m sure you guys know my never-ending love for Before I Fall, which is her debut novel. It was the first book of hers I read fully (I’d DNF-ed Delirium), and I still consider it one of my favorites, and probably the only book of hers I’ve liked so far. I found Delirium really boring and never managed to finish it or conjure the energy to re-read it. I bought Panic on a whim, and also read a good couple of chapters before I gave up on it as well. I recently read Replica, and, again, I found myself not really enjoying it and getting bored of reading the same scene from different POVs. The only unread novel I have of hers left is Vanishing Girls, which is a thriller, and I’m praying that it’s good, but it’s crazy to think that the only book of hers I liked was her first one.

Another author I can think of is Leigh Bardugo. I read Shadow and Bone because of the hype and wasn’t too impressed with it. I initially intended to read the sequel, but the more time passed and the more people raved about Six of Crows, I decided to just opt out of reading the Grisha trilogy, and instead just went with Six of Crows. It was a five-star read and absolutely freaking brilliant and so much better than Shadow and Bone. I wouldn’t consider her one of my favorite authors yet, but we’ll see once I read Wonder Woman: Warbringer.

I’ve realized for thriller authors, I’m quicker to forgive, though. For instance, I didn’t like or thought Shari Lapena’s, Paula Hawkin’s, and Ruth Ware’s books were as good as everyone said they were. Yet, for all three authors, I’ve put their 2017 releases on my most anticipated releases list, and I can’t wait for them to come out. I guess it’s just the fact that I’m weak for a good thriller premise, and, who knows, maybe their next book will be a total hit for me (though I don’t know if this has actually happened for real).

I feel like I judge YA books more by their authors, where there are times where I’ll not read a book because I didn’t like the author’s previous books, but for thrillers, I’m just like, “Meh. The premise sounded awesome; I’ll go for it.” Really, I guess it all depends on the type of bookworm we are.

let's chatWhat are your thoughts on Fiona Barton? What are some hit-or-miss authors for you? Are you affected by genres/age ranges for authors like I am?

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3

[ARC REVIEW] Another Thriller Bites the Dust // The Last to Die by Kelly Garrett

the last to die

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, YA

 Series: None

 Rating: 3.5 STARS

Release Date: April 4, 2017

 Description:

 Sixteen-year-old Harper Jacobs and her bored friends make a pact to engage in a series of not-quite illegal break-ins. They steal from each other’s homes, sharing their keys and alarm codes. But they don’t take anything that can’t be replaced by some retail therapy, so it’s okay. It’s thrilling. It’s bad. And for Harper, it’s payback for something she can’t put into words-something to help her deal with her alcoholic mother, her delusional father, and to forget the lies she told that got her druggie brother arrested. It’s not like Daniel wasn’t rehab bound anyway.

 So everything is okay-until the bold but aggravating Alex, looking to up the ante, suggests they break into the home of a classmate. It’s crossing a line, but Harper no longer cares. She’s proud of it. Until one of the group turns up dead, and Harper comes face-to-face with the moral dilemma that will make or break her-and, if she makes the wrong choice, will get her killed.

 My Thoughts:

 Okay, so bear with me here. I was lazy enough to wait until, like, weeks and weeks later to write up this review, so if this sounds vague as all hell, now you know. But, when I was approved for this request on Netgalley, I was so pumped. I absolutely love thrillers, and I’m always interested in YA thrillers since YA is the genre I’m a huge fan of, and there aren’t enough thrillers found in the genre. Again, I ran into a YA thriller that I’d consider better than most, but, in the end, was still just okay. I think most people will enjoy this, but it’s no Dangerous Girls, and if you’re looking for a more complex thriller, this definitely isn’t it.

 So, we’re introduced to a gang of rich, teenage robbers, and I know you’re probably immediately writing them off as unlikable, but they actually weren’t too bad. I thought it was interesting that they robbed each other’s houses for the thrill of it, not only because it sounded stupid, but because it seemed sort of risky and useless, since they didn’t steal anything big, but whatever. Harper is the main character, and, of course she has a younger sister who’s deaf, and this reminded me a lot like Alex from the horror/thriller movie Don’t Breathe from last summer, which I loved and would recommend over reading this book, but that’s getting off-topic. I thought Harper was an all-right character; I didn’t really cheer for her, but I wasn’t praying death upon her, so that was good! I thought the rest of the gang was sort of forgettable, and weren’t developed enough, except maybe Alex and Benji.

 I thought the premise was interesting, and was pretty much what I expected from the synopsis. I was surprised to see that people actually died, and there were some moments that were really touching, especially during one of the member’s deaths. I will say, the book was addicting. I told myself I’d stop at one chapter, and, of course, I completely failed to do so. I just needed to know what was going to happen next, and I appreciate the fact that Garrett just wrote a straight-forward thriller without feeling the need to insert unnecessary filler. And hooray for the fact that the romance didn’t overtake the plot! It was barely there, which is how thrillers SHOULD be.

 I honestly don’t know how I feel about the ending. At the same time, I thought it was entertaining, but on the other hand, I feel like, again, I’ve suffered through a conclusion that seemed to have an unbelievable villain, which way too many damn YA thrillers suffer from sometimes. Instead of trying to make a believable thriller, some authors fall victim to wanting to have this big, crazy twist that shocks people, and it just doesn’t make sense. I don’t want to spoil, but I just felt like the way things were handled, the “villain” had to not only be the best actor in the history of acting, but also be a mastermind, with a hell of a lot of coincidences.

It’s funny, because it honestly seems like I’ve read way too many thrillers this year, both adult and YA alike, that I thought were good, except for the highly unrealistic endings. It feels like thrillers have stopped attempting to make logical sense and be entertaining, and now seem to try to out-rank each other for craziest plot twist of the year, which isn’t what I want thrillers to de-evolve to, but that’s a discussion for another day. But, I’m sure some people will love the plot twist and be like, “OH MY GOOOOD. DID NOT SEE THAT COMING.” I just rolled my eyes.

 Overall, if you’re interested, I’d say you should just go for it, but, personally, I wouldn’t set other people’s expectations to be TOO high.

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9

[DNF ARC REVIEW] Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

blood rose rebellion

Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy

Series: Blood Rose Rebellion #1

Rating: None

Release Date: March 28, 2017

Description:

The thrilling first book in a YA fantasy trilogy for fans of Red Queen. In a world where social prestige derives from a trifecta of blood, money, and magic, one girl has the ability to break the spell that holds the social order in place.

Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.

My Thoughts: 

“I did not set out to ruin my sister’s debut.”

DNF AT 16%

 Oh, boy. This totally sucks. I saw this up on Netgalley and immediately requested it when I first signed up for the site. The cover is stunning, and the summary was just so intriguing that I couldn’t help it. I was so surprised to be approved for this one since it seemed like literally everyone was clamoring for an ARC of this, and I didn’t consider myself too popular in the book blogging world at the time.

 Unfortunately, this one just really let me down, and after trying to read this for so long, I ended up just giving up on this one for numerous reasons.

 1. This is a historical fantasy. I love fantasy, okay? Fantasy is one of my favorite genres, even though I haven’t really read it too much this year (and I must solve that problem). But, this is historical fantasy. I really don’t like historical fiction, personally, so seeing this was basically just court politics that took place in Hungary around the 1800s except with magic made me extremely disappointed. And I’m not a fan of court politics either, so that didn’t really help things.

 2. I didn’t care about any of the characters. So we have the main character, who was easily forgettable and boring that I didn’t even remember her name until I read the summary of this book again (her name’s Anna, apparently). We also have Catherine, who is stereotypically the mean older sister who’s catty towards our main character. And that’s as far as I got to. I mean, there are some other adults who only seem to exist to dump exposition and leave, and we also get to meet Freddy, who’s her temporary suitor in the beginning of the book, and, again, bland and lifeless and boring and sort of an asshole, and I just didn’t care.

 3. It was incredibly slow-moving. I just couldn’t handle how bored and uninterested I was throughout the entire thing, even from the beginning. It’s never a good sign when a book can’t capture you from the first pages. I know I’ve said this already, but it’s just so disappointing, because I was so hyped for this book, but I just couldn’t get into it. I tried so hard to get into this one, multiple times, but there was nothing in the chapters that kept me going, and I didn’t feel like suffering.

(Also, this book is nothing like Red Queen. So, there’s that.)

 All in all, after seeing so many other people not finishing this book as well at a later point than I could ever attempt to reach and seeing several others who actually finished the book and still didn’t like it, I decided to just go ahead and join them. I really don’t recommend this one, but, again, I’m never one to dissuade someone from reading a book they’re excited in, so feel free to check it out if it really interests you!

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A huge thanks to Random House Children’s for giving me an ARC of this book via Netgalley! I’m so sorry I couldn’t finish it, but it means a lot to me that I received it for free.

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8

[ARC REVIEW] Ubo by Steve Rasnic Tem

ubo

Genre: Sci-fi, Dystopian, Horror

Series: None

Rating: 3 STARS

Release Date: February 14, 2017

Description:

A blend of science fiction and horror, award-winning author Steve Rasnic Tem’s new novel is a chilling story exploring the roots of violence and its effect on a possible future.

Daniel is trapped in Ubo. He has no idea how long he has been imprisoned there by the roaches.

Every resident has a similar memory of the journey to Ubo: a dream of dry, chitinous wings crossing the moon, the gigantic insects dropping swiftly over the houses of the neighborhood, passing through walls and windows as if by magic, or science.  The creatures, like a deck of baroquely ornamented cards, fanning themselves from one hidden world into the next.

And now each day they force Daniel to play a different figure from humanity’s violent history, from a frenzied Jack the Ripper to a stumbling and confused Stalin to a self-proclaimed god executing survivors atop the ruins of the world. The scenarios mutate day after day in this camp somewhere beyond the rules of time. As skies burn and prisoners go mad, identities dissolve as the experiments evolve, and no one can foretell their mysterious end.

My Thoughts:

So, this book is basically the definition of “WTF?” Seriously, all you have to do is read the description, and you’ll probably be saying, “Wait, what?” It’s the main reason why I requested it in the first place, and I was so excited when I got the e-mail that I was approved.

 First, a bit of a warning: this book is slow. SO SLOW. Like, it literally took almost half a month for me to read this. It’s just one of those books where I had to read it in spurts, because it doesn’t have that binge-able quality. It’s not a bad thing, but for those who like faster-paced books, this will probably be the ultimate torture.

 There’s a cast of characters, but, really, we only focus on the main character, Daniel, who has a rough sort of past. He has a son who suffers from a heart disease, and he feels as if his marriage is quickly falling apart, and before he knows it, he’s been dragged off to this torture chamber/science lab where he has to relive history’s worst moments. He’s one of those main characters that’s so easy to cheer for, because you want him to get out of this unimaginably awful situation, but he might not be someone who you’ll relate to, just for the fact that I’m a teenage girl who doesn’t even want kids, and I know most of you guys reading this probably won’t relate either, but he’s definitely someone you’ll sympathize with.

 Of course, the plot is interesting. A weird world where all these people are dragged out of their homes to play the worst men in history? What? And, my God, did it take the weirdest turn. Not like I minded, since I’m a huge fan of super weird sci-fi stories (have you seen Black Mirror? If you haven’t, you need to). I thought it was definitely carried out well, and this actually ties into the world-building of the book. We’re only stuck with Daniel in the limited world of Ubo, and it’s not until we’re in the point of view of the God of Mayhem (“Wait, what?” you’re probably saying, and that’s a 100% accurate feeling) and in the final chapter that we get to see more of the world, so for those who are huge on world-building in sci-fi, you’ll probably hate how this one is very light on it.

 Honestly, it’s so hard to talk about this book without spoiling it, but it’s definitely interesting and I thought it was okay. Not the best sci-fi book I’ve ever read, but it certainly makes me want to see if there’s more sci-fi/horror out there! And, also, a real warning: if you’re not into/sensitive to reading descriptions of graphic violence from the POV of Jack the Ripper or shooters or horrible men in history, or don’t want to read descriptions of horrific events such as the Holocaust, then this book is definitely not for you.

 Overall, a solid sci-fi/horror story, and if you’re pretty curious to read it, feel free to check it out once it comes out on Valentine’s Day!

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Does this book interest you? 

(Also, I finished Caraval today! So good! Hopefully, my review should be up tomorrow!)

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I was provided with a free e-ARC of this book through Netgalley. Thank you so much Steve Resnic Tem and Rebellion Publishing for giving me the opportunity to read this early.

5

[ARC REVIEW] Blink by K.L. Slater

blink

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Adult

Series: None

Rating: 3 STARS

Release Date: February 16, 2017

Description:

What if the person you love most in the world was in terrible danger … because of you?

Three years ago, Toni’s five-year-old daughter Evie disappeared after leaving school. The police have never been able to find her. There were no witnesses, no CCTV, no trace.

But Toni believes her daughter is alive. And as she begins to silently piece together her memories, the full story of the past begins to reveal itself, and a devastating truth.

Toni’s mind is trapped in a world of silence, her only chance to save herself is to manage the impossible. She must find a way to make herself heard. She must find her daughter.

A compelling, gripping thriller with a breathtaking twist that will keep you awake until the early hours. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train, Behind Closed Doors and The Sister.

My Thoughts:

Okay, so I’ve actually never any of Slater’s books before now. I do own Safe With Me, but I also have about 1001 other books on my TBR that are currently screaming my name, so I haven’t yet had the opportunity to read it. I will definitely pick it up though, because I really enjoyed it! It wasn’t the best thriller I’ve read so far this year, but I enjoyed it enough.

The pacing of this novel was definitely on the slower side. There were a lot of chapters, which meant they were pretty short (always a positive in my experience), and I thought it was perfect that the book was split into two parts. Part 1 is definitely slower. I know that for some readers, they’ll find it extremely boring because it’s not very thriller-y at all; it has more of a contemporary feel with the fact that Toni is suffering between taking care of her daughter and dealing with the grief of her husband’s death a couple years back and moving into a new place and her mom riding on her about things and dealing with a new job, etc. We have a peek at these journal entries that seem from the captor’s point-of-view, and the POV of the person who’s paralyzed, but those are pretty short and pretty spare. Part 2 was definitely interesting and I couldn’t stop reading once I reached that part; I just binged until the very end.

The characters were just fine (it’s always awkward to talk about characters since I don’t care much for them when I’m reading my thrillers). It’s quite easy to gain sympathy for Toni since she’s suffering from so many things and she’s just trying to get her life together just like anyone else. We also get to learn more about Harriet Watson, who plays a larger part in the book besides “the abusing teacher I hated a lot.” She was quite the three dimensional character, and I actually really enjoyed learning more about her as the novel went on.

I thought the premise was done semi-well. I feel like it might be a bit misleading, but I’m not going to talk about it anymore so as not to spoil anyone. Again, this book was a bit slower than I thought it’d be, so if you’re looking for a faster-paced thriller, this will probably not be your jam. I’d also say that if you’re looking for a thriller revolving around missing kids, this isn’t the one for you, either.

I actually really enjoyed the ending a lot. Like most thrillers, it has all the plot twists that most modern thrillers have these days, but I actually didn’t mind them too much. I really enjoyed the very last chapter of this book; it was so touching. And that’s it, that’s all I’m saying about the ending because no spoilers!

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Have you read K.L. Slater’s previous book? Does this one sound good to you?

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I received this book for free from Netgalley. Huge thanks to K.L. Slater and Bookouture for giving me the opportunity to read this! 

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WWW Wednesday // 1•25•17

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It’s Wednesday, so guess what time it is? WWW Wednesday is hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words, and I’d like to thank her once again for hosting this because this is so much fun! Onto the books!

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What are you currently reading?

blink

At the moment, I’m currently reading an ARC of Blink by K.L. Slater. This is one of my most anticipated thriller reads (I have a lot, but this was definitely on the list) and this is actually my first read from this author (even though I also have Safe With Me).

What did you recently finish reading?

I recently finished reading two of my most anticipated thriller ARCs (are you seeing a pattern here?): The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda – my review can be found here – and Final Girls by Riley Sager, which I gave 5 stars, and definitely matched my expectations. I’m not allowed to post my full review until closer to the publication date, which is July, but you should definitely go out and buy it once it comes out. SO GOOD!

What do you think you’ll read next?

Haha, SO MANY BOOKS. As you guys might know, I signed up for Netgalley a couple of weeks ago, and it’s been both a blessing and a curse. I requested a bunch of ARCs thinking I’d be turned down for all of them because I’m a smaller blogger, but that was not the case. I actually ended up getting approved for 5 other ARCs besides the ones above (and I still have 9 others pending, but I don’t know if I’m lucky to get those), all ones I’m excited to read! I currently have Bad Little Girl by Frances Vick, Ubo by Steve Rasnic Tem, The Fall of Lisa Bellow by Susan Perabo, Waste of Space by Gina Damico, and Follow Me Back by A.V. Geiger. Yeah, I’m out of control.

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And that’s it for this WWW Wednesday! This made me realize I have way too many ARCs and should probably not request too many before my Approval rating drops any lower (I’m currently at 50%).

Also, did you see the ACOWAR cover??? BEAUTY!

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file_009Feel free to link and share your WWW Wednesdays down below if I haven’t read them yet! I’d love to check them out!