ARC REVIEW: The Weight Of Lies – by Emily Carpenter @EmilyDCarpenter @AmazonPub

Title: The Weight Of Lies
Author: Emily Carpenter

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 6th 2017
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Finished reading: June 19th 2017
Pages: 382

“Sometimes, in our lives, we do what other people want us to. Simply because we can’t muster the strength to go another, braver way.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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Around the publish date a few weeks back glowing after glowing review started popping up everywhere, so I just had no other choice but add The Weight Of Lies to my wishlist instantly. And I’m definitely glad I listened to those reviews now, because boy this was GOOD. I was hooked as soon as I started reading The Weight Of Lies and it managed to hold my attention until the very end. The story POV switches between the so-called ‘Kitten’ chapter bites out of the book the main character’s mother Frances wrote 40 years ago and the actual story. Those little chapters definitely added a little something extra to the story: a unique feel, a healthy dose of suspense and intrigue about what is still to come… But this doesn’t mean that the actual plot isn’t anything less than brilliant. Besides the fact that I fell in love with the writing style almost instantly, The Weight Of Lies is also packed with plot twists, secrets, lies and unreliable characters that will keep you wondering about both what really happened all those years ago and what is happening right now. I found myself eagerly turning the pages (or in this case, finger-stabbing my kindle) to try and find out what everybody was hiding and what secrets the island will reveal. Another bonus: this story managed to surprise me more than once, which trust me doesn’t happen all that often anymore. I also liked the plot itself and the fact that both writing and books themselves play such a big role in the story. I admit I wasn’t a fan of every character, but the relationship between Meg and her writing mother is well developed and brilliantly executed. Then again, the descriptions in general were very well done and really set the right atmosphere for this story. If you enjoy reading psychological thrillers, you will be in for a treat with this one!

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Meg Ashley doesn’t exactly have a good relationship with her mother Frances, who is a very successful writer. Frances wrote her first bestselling horror novel almost forty years ago, a story inspired by a murder on the island she stayed at that time. And while Meg has had a privileged life because of her mother’s work, the two have never had a good relationship and her childhood wasn’t exactly a happy one. Then one day Meg accepts a proposal to write a scandalous, tell-all memoir and reveal all the dirty secrets and truth about her childhood. Not only that, she will also investigate the murder her mother used to create her first bestseller. But this might be even more dangerous than she initially had guessed… Because some secrets are best left alone.

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Like psychological thrillers? Like a well developed plot packed with plot twists and suspense? Like reading a story within a story? Like being surprised? Like conspiracy theories and book-obsessed fans? Like a writing style that will tempt you from the very first page? Then definitely give The Weight Of Lies a go. This story managed to grab my full attention from the very first page and I couldn’t stop reading until I reached the last page. Without doubt worth the read if you like the genre!


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ARC REVIEW: Four Days – by Jamie Campbell

Title: Four Days
Author: Jamie Campbell

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: October 5th 2015
Publisher: Eltham Press
Finished reading: June 17th 2017
Pages: 135

“In tennis, inches add up to miles. In life they add up that way too. The trick of it is to understand that fact.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I read Jamie Campbell‘s other short novel The Thankful back in January and enjoyed it, so I found myself looking forward to Four Days as well. This short novel actually has a complete different focus and is more of a contemporary romance story packed with sports and roadtrip elements. Four Days has less romance than I would have expected initially and is actually more focused on the main character Luci trying to deal with a broken relationship and her tennis career not going as well as she would have liked. Luci has to rediscover herself and the roadtrip can be seen as a symbol for this journey. I’m a big travel fan, so I really enjoyed the descriptions of the different parts of New Zealands the characters were driving though. And although I’m not a big fan of tennis myself (I prefer rugby!), I liked the way these elements play a big role in this story. Four Days definitely has a huge dose of sports incorporated into the plot! The story is also quite easy to read and I liked the fact Dutch words were used here and there. It might just be the philologist in me, but I always love when different languages are incorporated into the prose, although of course it’s important that the story is still understandable for those who don’t speak the other language like is the case with Four Days. All these points sound positive, so why only a three star rating, would you ask? Two things. First of all, I wasn’t able to connect fully to the characters and some of their actions were a bit annoying. I’m not sure if it’s because it didn’t feel natural or for a different reason, but I wasn’t sure if everything was all that credible. But the biggest reason would be the adult content. I have a huge aversion for any story that includes adult content and trust me, some of the scenes in Four Days are pretty steamy. This is 100% me though and I’m sure romance fans won’t mind them at all. But as this review is about my personal opinion and feelings, the rating reflects just that… There were a lot of things I did like about this story though, so definitely give this one a try if you like a good road trip/sports contemporary and don’t mind the steamy scenes!

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Luci Wijn has been having a lot of bad luck lately, both in her personal and professional life. Her partner cheated on her and her tennis career isn’t going as well as she would have hoped… Is the invitation to her friend’s wedding in New Zealand the escape she needed? Luci has to play in Auckland afterwards anyway, so she travels to the other side of the world to share her friends happiness even though she doesn’t feel great herself. But then there is a strike at the local airport, and her friend’s cousin Jamie has to step in and drive her if she wants to make it to Auckland in time…

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Four Days is without doubt less of a romance story and more of a road trip and sports-focused contemporary read. I really enjoyed the descriptions of the local scenery and the writing style was quite enjoyable to read. I liked the Dutch words popping up every once in a while and how sports played such an important role throughout the story. I wasn’t sure about the characters though and the steamy scenes were a huge turn off for me. But like I said before, if you don’t mind those you will probably enjoy this story a lot!


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ARC REVIEW: Can’t Buy Forever – by Susan Laffoon

Title: Can’t Buy Forever
Author: Susan Laffoon

Genre: YA, Romance, Mystery
First published: June 1st 2015
Publisher: Page Publishing
Finished reading: June 16th 2017
Pages: 218

“Coincidences don’t add up, choices do. We build our life one choice at a time for better or for worse.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I’ve had Can’t Buy Forever on my TBR for longer than intended, but the cover and promise of a 1950s setting kept calling to me and I finally picked it up a few days ago. I found myself looking forward to it despite the low rating, especially since I’ve been in the mood for historical fiction lately… But I ended up being far from impressed. Honestly, I don’t think I would have made it to the end if this wouldn’t have been an ARC; unfortunately it was a tough battle just making it to the last page. Part of the problem might have been me and others might enjoy this story better, but I will explain below why I ended up having to give Can’t Buy Forever such a low rating.

1. The supposedly 1950s setting is almost non existent except for a few mentions of a date or important event here and there. As a historical fiction fan I felt a bit disappointed by this, especially since the setting is especifically mentioned in the blurb. If you leave out those few time references, this story could have easily been set in the present as well… Such a shame, because a well developed historical setting would have added credibility and dept to the story.

2. I had a lot of problems with the main characters in general. I wasn’t able to connect to them and this made following the story a lot harder. Furthermore, Odessa acts a lot younger than the 18-year-old she is supposed to be… She cries all the time and her feelings for Nicholas are cheesy, not credible and it almost feels as if I were watching a ten-year-old having her first crush on a senior quarterback.

3. The crying. Seriously, how many times do Odessa and the other characters cry during this story?! Once it started to annoy me I just kept seeing those crocodile tears mentioned, and it really started to get on my nerves. It also made their feelings less credible and more cartoonish.

4. It has a love triangle. Or in fact various love triangles if I am more specific. And you all know now much I despise those… I can tolerate them if they are done right, but these examples were quite cringeworthy and the feelings just felt unnatural.

5. I don’t feel there really is a plot and the events themselves don’t really seem credible or make sense. I mean, Roark is supposed to get away with all he does?? And Odessa just accepts all what happens? And we as a reader just have to accept everything that happens as well without a proper explanation? The lack of plot or at least a proper idea of what is going on also made it a lot harder to follow; it just didn’t feel like a coherent story at all and almost like a delusional ramble of one of the main characters on their deathbed.

6. I wasn’t able to connect to the writing style at all. I don’t see the lack of grammar and mistakes mentiones in many reviews I saw on Goodreads, but the sentences don’t flow and it was really hard to keep track of the story and read more than a few pages at a time. The writing style was one of the reasons I considered a DNF various times during this story… And I’m still wondering if that would have been a better choice.

Enough of the negative… There were some interesting aspects about this story, especifically Nicholas’ history and the gypsy references. I can’t go into details without revealing too much, but a focus on those and further development of those elements would probably have improved the story considerably. Without a proper explanation, the credibility of it all was simply lost. I really wanted to like this story, but as you might have guessed of this rather lenghty (for me) list, unfortunately I just couldn’t.

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Odessa Drake decides to change her destiny and moves in with her widowed great aunt Flo in Mineville, New York. Her aunt owns a boarding house and Dessa spends her days helping her out, working to keep the house running when she isn’t at school. Then Nicholas shows up and he is given the attic for lack of other space; four years later, he is one of the few boarders still in the house. They have grown fond of each other despite the fact that Dessa really doesn’t know a lot about Nicholas… But Nicholas has a reason to keep the past buried, and things might become dangerous when he gets too close. What secrets does he keep and how do they affect Dessa?

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I was actually looking forward to Can’t Buy Forever as the blurb sounded quite interesting, but unfortunately I ended up having a completely different experience instead. I won’t repeat all the details I’ve mentioned above since I’ve already talked about each point extensively, but it does become clear it was far too easy to find things that didn’t work for me in the story. Was it just me or is the book to blame as well? I won’t be the judge to read the sentence, but at least I’ve put in my two cents.


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ARC REVIEW: The Book Of Whispers – by Kimberley Starr

Title: The Book Of Whispers
Author: Kimberley Starr

Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
First published: October 3rd 2016
Publisher: Text Publishing
Finished reading: June 15th 2017
Pages: 386

“I have a voice, I have words. I run to a future where there’s the possibility of using them.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Text Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I admit I have a weird obsession with any title that has the word ‘book’ or anything book-related in them, so combined with a stunning cover The Book Of Whispers was immediately on my radar. I requested a copy of this story mostly based on this obsession, and didn’t realize before I started reading it that it had such a low Goodreads rating OR the fact that demons play such a big role in the story. To be honest, now I reread the blurb I don’t understand how I could have missed that part… Because what I thought would be a historical (medieval) fiction about a mysterious book actually turned out to be more of a demon-infested fantasy read. Stories involving demons are always  a hit or miss for me, so I guess I have myself to blame for that part… It wasn’t just the demon overload that didn’t work for me though, but also the way they were incorporated into the story. Especially in the beginning this mix of historical and fantasy felt awkward and the many many descriptions of the demons and all their strange forms slowed down the pace considerably. Trust me, there were many many eyebrow raises before the story started to flow better! Luckily the book itself made its appearance quite early on; otherwise I’m not sure if I would have decided to continue this story. I liked the medieval setting and the crusade and the idea behind The Book Of Whispers is without doubt an interesting and original one. I appreciate what the author wanted to do by mixing a traditional crusade story with fantasy and its complexity when trying to balance those elements; I just didn’t enjoy actually reading it. Mind, this could have been just me and my aversion to demons… Although I had a hard time connecting to the writing style or characters as well. Apart from the awkward demon descriptions that slowed down the pace, the writing style in general didn’t flow and felt a bit like trying to drive a car that is running out of fuel. This haltered feel did fade away a bit towards the ending, but all in all I struggled considerably reaching the final page. As for the characters: like I said, I had a hard time connecting to them and some of them were quite annoying. I liked that the demons were connected to the seven sins, but some of the characters were basically caricatures of those sins and maybe not that credible. Also, the romance. Boy, did I struggle with that feature. I know I’m almost never a fan, but besides the fact that this story has a love triangle, I found the romance in general didn’t feel credible at all and mostly a cliche. I can’t go into details without spoilers, but insta-love and all those sappy and cliche descriptions and feelings? Definitely could have done without that. There were some twists though and I liked the historical elements. The ending was interesting enough as well I guess. And there is no doubt this book surprised me, although in my case not in a good way…

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Set in Tuscany, 1096 AD, Luca is the young heir to the title of Conte de Falconi. He has a problem though: he can see demons and has strange dreams that sometimes predict the future. Luca is forced to keep this a secret since people either don’t believe him or are afraid of him… But when he sees his father murdered in one of those dreams, he is determined to stop this vision from coming true. This means following him on the great pilgrimage to capture the Holy Lands against his wishes… But will also be complicated when his father gives him an ancient book that holds a lot of mysteries just before they leave.

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I like stories with a medieval setting and I was definitely looking forward to The Book Of Whispers, but in the end it just wasn’t for me and not just because of the demon overload. The writing style, the demon descriptions, the characters, the romance… There was a lot that unfortunately didn’t work for me and the historical setting couldn’t make up for this. The idea behind The Book Of Whispers is very original though and it must have been a lot of work to mix both elements. There is no doubt this story had a lot of potential…


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ARC REVIEW: Now I Rise – by Kiersten White @kierstenwhite @DelacortePress

Title: Now I Rise
(The Conqueror’s Saga #2)
Author: Kiersten White

Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
First published: June 27th 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Finished reading: June 13th 2017
Pages: 496

“The world will destroy her in the end. Too much spark leads to explosions. But your sister will destroy as much as she can before she goes out. She will go down in flames and blood.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Delacorte Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I admit I’m a bit late to the party when it comes to this series, but I was hooked as soon as I finished the first chapter of And I Darken. I had the privilege of receiving an ARC copy of the sequel early (trust me, I still can’t believe my request was actually approved!), and after finishing the first book I wanted to continue with the sequel right away. Now I Rise by no means suffers from the so-called ‘weak-sequel-syndrome’. This second book of The Conqueror’s Saga starts out strong and stays that way until the very end. The focus is slightly different than in the first book, mostly because it has two completely different storylines this time and the story switches between those POVs. I personally liked this change and it didn’t distract from the main plot at all, especially since there is still an obvious connection between the two storylines both through the characters and the plot itself. I also liked the glbt elements in the series in general, although I do have to say the love triangle bits did started to bother me as well as some of the decisions of the characters. This is probably the only negative thing I could find about this series though! Because there is no doubt I’m truly enjoying this Vlad The Impaler based series so far. Another thing that stood out for me is that there is more action and more fighting in Now I Rise, although it is balanced with further excellent character development and detailed descriptions of the worldbuilding and historical references that will make it feel as if you were back in the 15th century yourself. Because there is no doubt that Kiersten White‘s writing style is wonderful and will have you under its spell… Well written, beautiful, rich, engaging and highly addictive: Now I Rise will have you in its claws and won’t let you go until you reach the last page, leaving you wanting for more. Thankfully the sequel doesn’t end with that big of a cliffhanger, making the wait for book three a little more tolerable… Although it’s still going to be a long one.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first  book yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

Lada Dracul decided to start fighting to fulfill her own dreams, but that will be more difficult than it seems. Because she has no allies and no throne: just herself and a handful of loyal men. She wasn’t able to secure the Wallachian throne as easily as was promised, but is determined to punish anyone who dares to stand in her way and prevent her from succeeding. On the other hand, Radu is still at Mehmed’s side with a completely different goal in mind. One that will ask even more from Radu than he has already given… What will happen to them and will they be able to succeed in their goals?

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After already enjoying And I Darken I had high hopes for the sequel, and Now I Rise definitely didn’t disappoint. There is a slightly different focus in the sequel, but I personally liked these changes and two different storylines each with a lot of action, intrigue and its own web of secrets and lies. The historical worldbuilding is very well done and sets the right atmosphere for what is already an excellent story. I wasn’t a fan of some of the romance and I didn’t agree with every decision made, but those are only minor complaints compared to my love for the writing style. I can’t wait to try more of Kiersten White‘s books in the future! And The Conqueror’s Saga book three is going straight to my list of most anticipated 2018 releases. Is it June 2018 yet?


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ARC REVIEW: Guilty – by Laura Elliot @bookouture

Title: Guilty
Author: Laura Elliot

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 22nd 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: June 10th 2017
Pages: 348

“Does she not realise the past never goes away? It can swing a fist and knock us out with one blow.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Bookouture in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I admit I was sold as soon as I saw the cover and read the blurb. What was the terrible mistake mentioned and how could this destroy a family? Guilty had all the signs of being an eventful and intriguing psychological thriller and I was really looking forward to finally pick it up. Unfortunately I ended up having mixed thoughts about it. There is no doubt Guilty has a plot that is both complex and filled with twists that will make things spin out of control. The story is separated in different parts, dividing the plot as the story evolves and the time passes. It shows a lot of time has gone into developing the plot and different events and consequences of those actions, and it was without doubt interesting to see how those mistakes and actions in general can have a huge impact on the future. That said, I did feel there was almost too much squeezed into the plot and the different events sometimes felt a bit rushed and lost part of their importance. Especially in the beginning it’s a little difficult to understand what is really important in the story and Constance’s case feels a bit rushed in general. I understand that the focus is rather on the past-present-consequence relation and what effect the past has on the rest of the story, but it did make it hard to get a proper feel for the story straight away. Furthermore, the pace is quite slow and it took me a lot longer than expected to finish Guilty. It was interesting to see the characters evolve over time, but I do have to say that I didn’t like the main characters at all. It definitely made it a lot harder to care for what happened when I just couldn’t feel a connection to the characters… And there were also various parts of the story that felt either forced, unnatural or rushed to me. It might just have been that I expected something a little more fast-paced though and in a way I did appreciate the complexity of the plot in Guilty. Like I said, I had mixed feelings so I guess this story can go either way for you… If you like slower paced psychological thrillers that follow characters over a bigger span of time and show how some actions can have huge consequences for the future, Guilty will probably be a right fit for you.

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One morning, the thirteen-year-old Constance Lawson is reported missing. She had a row with her parents the night before and wasn’t in bed when her mother checked on her. Nobody has seen her since, but there are a lot of rumors starting to go around. Then journalist Amanda Bowe starts a media frenzy implying that Constance’s uncle Karl Lawson is the prime suspect… In such a way that six years later, Karl’s life is in ruins. Amanda is thriving though and seems to have everything she can wish for: a successful career, husband and a healthy son. Her life seems to be complete, but one day everything changes with just one phone call…

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Guilty has without doubt a lot of potential and the plot itself is both complex and intriguing. The pace was a bit slow though and I had a hard time connecting to the main characters. They are not exactly likeable and this made connecting to the story a lot more difficult. The development of the characters over time is interesting, although I’m not sure up to what point some actions are actually credible. In short I ended up having mixed thoughts, but I can definitely understand why the right person would love this psychological thriller. And a last random note: the plinks just sound lovely!


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BOOK REVIEW: And I Darken – by Kiersten White

Title: And I Darken
(The Conqueror’s Saga #1)
Author: Kiersten White

Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
First published: June 28th 2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Finished reading: June 8th 2017
Pages: 498

“There is power in stillness. There is power in watching, waiting, saying the right thing at the right time to the right person. There is power in being a woman – oh yes, power in these bodies you gaze upon with derision.”

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I’ve been wanting to read this book ever since I first heard about it last year, and not just because of the beautiful cover… Because the combination of medieval setting, potentially strong main character and intriguing plot just sounded to good to be true. Why didn’t I pick up And I Darken earlier, would you say? Part of the reason is most likely the enormous hype around this story, because hyped books and me don’t really go along in general. I’ve seen quite a few mixed reviews out there, making me feel a bit hesitant to pick it up… But I just couldn’t resist the historical setting and reference to Vlad the Impaler in the end. And while I had a few minor complaints that made me remove a star from what I initially thought would be a perfect rating, I ended up enjoying And I Darken so much better than I thought I would. It’s my first experience with Kiersten White‘s writing style (if you don’t count her short story in My True Love Gave To Me, which I LOVED), and it has been a very positive one. Her writing style is beautiful, rich and very engaging and made this story so much more enjoyable.  Both the worldbuilding and descriptions are extensive and well executed; it really felt as if I was transported back in time and fully merged into the world along with the main characters. The plot is very intriguing and full of twists, secrets and surprises. I could have done without the love triangle/ forbidden love parts, but I guess that is just me not liking romance in the first place. As for the characters: some of them are not exactly likeable, but I ended up being able to connect to most of them anyway. I found myself to be fully absorbed into this story and rooting for those characters I favored more… I didn’t approve of every decision they made, but the character development in general is without doubt excellent. In short I had a great time raeding And I Darken in general, and I can’t wait to continue with Now I Rise! If you like reading YA fantasy and find historical twists and retellings just as intriguing as I do, definitely give this series a go.

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Lada Dragwlya might have been born a girl, but she is by no means the weak and docile princess her father suspected her to be. There is a fire in her, something that seems to be missing in her gentle younger brother, Radu… But that didn’t stop him from abandoning them both to be raised in the Ottoman courts as a form for the sultan to control their father. Lada and Radu are now pawns in a vicious game and their lineage makes them both special and targets at the same time. Lada only really want to find a way back home to Wallachia and claim her birthright, but Radu only wants to find a place where he feels safe. Both seem impossible, but everything changes as they meet Mehmed, the son of the sultan… Things are never as they seem and feelings can change, but what will happen to them in the end?

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It took me a long time to finally pick up my copy of And I Darken, but I’m definitely glad I’ve done so. I’ve fallen in love with Kiersten White‘s writing style and her ability to create an extensive worldbuilding filled with excellent descriptions and an intriguing plot. And while it wasn’t the 5 star read I thought it would be after reading the first few chapters, there is no doubt a very much enjoyed reading Lada, Radu and Mehmed’s story and I can’t wait to find out what the future has in store.


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