YVO’S SHORTIES #20: The Last Star & With Malice

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time one series finale and a backlist title I randomly picked up… The Last Star by Rick Yancey wasn’t the best experience out there and unfortunately I was already fearing that reaction. Thankfully it does mean I have one less series to finish now! And despite the mixed reviews out there, I ended up really enjoying With Malice by Eileen Cook.


Title: The Last Star
(The 5th Wave #3)
Author: Rick Yancey

Genre: YA, Dystopia, Science Fiction
First published: May 24th 2016
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: March 1st 2018
Pages: 338

“She was the mayfly, here for a day, then gone. She was the last star, burning bright in a sea of limitless black.”


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WARNING: possible rant and unpopular opinion review ahead. DON’T READ if you haven’t read the first two books yet! There might be spoilers.

I have to be honest here and say I wasn’t really looking forward to this one, especially since the first two books were kind of a disappointment for me. But since I already had a copy on my kindle and I’m trying to finish those unfinished series, I decided to give it a go anyway. If anything, I think having such low expectations has helped me actually finish The Last Star. Because unfortunately my suspicions turned out to be right… And I can’t say I had a great time reading this one. The first thing that went wrong was right at the beginning. Why? Let’s just say I nearly stopped reading after the first couple of pages of religious babble. This chapter was completely different in style and tone and frankly kind of ruined the introduction to this final book to me… I know it has some connection to what happens later, but I still think the story would have been better off without it. That said, I had a hard time keeping up with the many POV switches and going back and forth between 2nd and 3rd person… This slowed down the pace considerably and made it even harder to connect to the story. As for the characters… Unfortunately taking a break from the series didn’t change my opinion of them. I can’t stand Cassie or Evan and everything they represent… The icky romance scenes almost made me vomit and the constant ‘wanting for sacrifice’ just didn’t help me warming up to them. In fact, the only character I sort of rooted for was Zombie. But in general, I can’t say I really cared about what happened to them. Which is kind of important in a dystopian story where the main goal is finding out if and how the characters survive everything that is thrown at them. The ending was kind of cheesy as well… The only thing I did like was the non stop action, which at least served to take my mind off other things temporarily. But all in all, this series definitely wasn’t for me.


Title: With Malice
Author: Eileen Cook

Genre: YA, Mystery, Thriller
First published: June 7th 2016
Publisher: HMH Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: March 6th 2018
Pages: 320

“Who we are is what comes out when shit goes bad. You can’t tell anything about a person when things are great. If you want to really know someone, be there when everything goes to hell.”


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I picked With Malice on a whim after seeing it mentioned somewhere and liking the little sample I read of the book. I had my doubts since I’ve seen mixed reviews out there, but in this case I think having let the hype die down has worked it its advantage. Because somehow I ended up really enjoying this one. I’m a sucker for a good amnesia angle plot and this one definitely ticked all the right boxes. Amnesia and aphasia played a big role in the story, and I liked how the author not only used it to keep us guessing about what happened, but also showed how it was like for the main character not to remember everything. The writing is engaging and superfast; I literally flew through this one and not just because I wanted to find out what had really happened. Some have compared this story to Dangerous Girls, and I can definitely see With Malice having the same vibe. There are a lot of twists and misinformation surrounding the accident and death of Simone, and with no reliable source of information we are left guessing about what really happened. I really liked the incorporation of police interviews, FB comments and other outside ‘sources’ into the text. A nice little original touch that also helped creating the right atmosphere. Because what the story is trying to tell is right: the truth itself is not as important as what people think is the truth. Did I like Jill? I’m not sure. Was I frustrated by how they treated her? Possibly. Did the whole Italian lover and love triangle angle bother me? Very plausible. But that doesn’t take away I found myself very much entertained while reading this one. Also, interesting ending! Although it can be taken both ways… But still, I was more than pleasantly surprised by With Malice.


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WWW Wednesdays #166 – March 7th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’ve recently started reading Graffiti Palace by A.G. Lombardo, another ARC that is scheduled to be published soon. It’s still really early days, so we’ll see how things go with that one… And I’m also starting The Art Of Fear by Pamela Crane, both because I’m in the mood for a thriller and I’m trying to clean out my NG shelf before our trip. Fingers crossed I’ll enjoy both!

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. All Things Bright And Strange by James Markert (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW
When I started reading All Things Bright And Strange, I actually thought I was going to enjoy it even better than What Blooms From Dust. Between the WWI veteran element and grumpy Ellsworth himself, it had all the signs of becoming a true winner… I mean, I even compared Ellsworth to one of my all time favorite characters Ove (A Man Called Ove). These feelings stayed for a long time, but slowly something started to irk me. I’m not a fan of a high dose of religious elements in a story, especially when it starts to sound like preaching. And there just was too much of it in All Things Bright And Strange… Especially in the second half. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but I would have liked to see a label calling it Christian fiction. The writing is wonderful though with lots of magical descriptions and a well developed historical setting.

2. The Last Star by Rick Yancey (2/5 stars) REVIEW 09/03
I was warned about this one by various bloggers, even though who unlike me did enjoy the first two books. Unfortunately, they turned out to be right. From the religious introduction, to the chaotic POV changes, the icky romance scenes and Cassie being her annoying self… I definitely didn’t have a great time reading this one. But I guess at least I was able to cross off another series right?

3. My Sweet Friend by H.A. Leuschel (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 
My Sweet Friend is the perfect example of a novella done right. With a well developed plot with interesting and fleshed out characters and a writing that simply flows it’s hard not to like this story. The manipulation element is incorporated in a way that feels completely natural and instead of it being forced on you, it shows up gradually. The switching back and forward between Rosie and Alexa helped set the right atmosphere as well as show the different sides of the effects of a manipulative relationship. The story will also have some surprises in store for you! Definitely recommended.

4. No Safe Place by Patricia Gibney (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 22/03
If you are looking for a well written, fast-paced and intense detective thriller series with a consistent quality and complex and well developed plots, Detective Lottie Parker will be a perfect fit for you. No Safe Place has another intense and complex investigation with many layers and twists to keep you guessing and entertained. I had my guesses, but didn’t find out the full truth until the very end and I was wrong in many occasions. I just love it when a story is able to mislead me! No Safe Place was another excellent detective thriller and I will already be looking forward to the next book.

5. Lies That Bind by Diana Rodriguez Wallach (3,5/5 stars) BLOG TOUR REVIEW 15/03 
I read and enjoyed the first book of the series last month, and now it was time for me to read the sequel for the blog tour. It took me a bit longer than expected to get into the sequel, but I guess that was because the first half was used to create a base the rest of the story will be able to stand on. I wasn’t a fan of the high dose of drama, but the final part returned to the default action-packed and superspeed pace I had been getting used to in book one. And there is no doubt that the ending left me wanting for more.

6. With Malice by Eileen Cook (4/5 stars) REVIEW 09/03
I picked this one on a whim after seeing it mentioned somewhere. I had my doubts since I’ve seen mixed reviews out there, but in this case I think having let the hype die down has worked it its advantage. Because somehow I really enjoyed reading this one. I’m a sucker for a good amnesia angle plot and this one definitely ticked all the right boxes. Amnesia and aphasia played a big role in the story, and I liked how the author not only used it to keep us guessing about what happened, but also showed how it was like for the main character not to remember everything. Interesting ending as well!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

Like I said before, I’m trying to clean out my NG shelf as much as I can before I start my trip, so the ARCs The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton and The Elephant Keeper’s Daughter by Julia Drosten are next. A memoir and a historical fiction read; I’ll be looking forward to them! I also want to read My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult soon, although I’m waiting until I’m in the mood for a tearjerker before I do. 😉 My latest TBR jar pick is still Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke. I was going to pick it up earlier this week, but then I saw With Malice and I randomly picked up that one instead haha.


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WWW Wednesdays #165 – February 28th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m still reading All Things Bright And Strange by James Markert, a historical fiction read with a touch of fantasy and magical realism. I’m hoping to finish it by the end of today! As soon as I do, I will continue with The Last Star by Rick Yancey. I had put it on hold to read a few urgent NG ARCs first, but I should be able to squeeze it in now and just get it over with (does it show I’m not all that excited to finally read it? xD)

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Visitor by K.L. Slater (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW
It doesn’t really come as an surprise, but K.L. Slater has done it again and created a brilliant psychological thriller. The pace is slower and the main focus is on the characters, but the plot, secrets and plot twists will help you keep focused until the very end. Because you will soon discover that key information about Holly’s past is being held back on purpose, making you want to keep reading to find out what really happened as well as making you wonder what it has to do with her current situation and fear. The final plot twists and reveals are mindblowingly good! I definitely didn’t see those coming… Although the ending did feel a bit too neat. Still, this was without doubt a very good read.

2. Proof Of Lies by Diana Rodriguez Wallach (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW
I have a weak spot for both an international setting and the whole spy/conspiracy theory element, so reading Proof Of Lies was an easy choice. Both these elements were what made this first book of a new series into a succesful and entertaining read for me. While I can’t say I liked the main character, not only because she is over dramatic and whiny, but also because she is quite naive and doesn’t seem to care about possible consequences of her actions, I somehow still very much enjoyed reading about her search for her sister. The non stop action and international setting in the second half definitely had a lot to do with that. I did wonder about the credibility of it all (A teenager in Europe without supervision?? Everything that happens to them in general??), but I guess at least the second part can be explained away by the conspiracy itself. All in all without doubt still a very entertaining read and I will be looking forward to read the sequel.

3. Barbed Wire Heart by Tess Sharpe (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 06/03
Boy, this book was GOOD. It’s not the easiest story to read and there are a lot of trigger warnings involved for those who are sensitive to violence, abuse etc, but if you can stomach them, you will find Barbed Wire Heart is one hell of a ride. It’s a trigger-happy crime story with a high dose of girl power, adrenaline, action, a splash of family drama and plot twists that you won’t see coming. From the writing style to the underlying feminist message, the originality of the plot and the excellent character development… This story simply blew me away.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I need to read Lies That Bind by Diana Rodriguez Wallach soon to get the review ready for my very first blog tour… And after browsing my backlist, I’ve decided to read My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult soon as well. I really enjoy reading her books, so I’m looking forward to it! I’ve heard it’s a real tearjerker though. I also need to read My Sweet Friend by H.A. Leuschel soon. My newest TBR jar pick is still Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke.


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WWW Wednesdays #164 – February 21st

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading The Visitor by K.L. Slater, one of my most anticipated releases this year and I story I have been looking forward to. And so far it is definitely a winner! Her books are excellent in general, and The Visitor has the same high standard I’ve become used to over time. I also picked up The Last Star by Rick Yancey, but since I’m not really looking forward to it, I will most likely end up putting it on hold temporarily and read a few upcoming NG ARCs instead.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Art Of French Kissing by Brianna R. Shrum (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW
If you like fun, light, cute, slightly cheesy and entertaining YA contemporaries with a healthy dose of romance, you will be in for a treat with this one. The Art Of French Kissing incorporates the whole cooking competition theme very well and all that food talk is probably one of the reasons I loved this book the way I did. The bantering and revenge element between the main characters worked better for me than I thought it would, and definitely added it’s own spice to the plot.

2. What Blooms From Dust by James Markert (4/5 stars) REVIEW 22/02
What Blooms From Dust was a slowburner for me, but once the dust had settled down I found myself completely and utterly hooked. This is an example of a story where magical realism simply works, and only enhances the reading experience instead of complicating it. Magical, mystical and a healthy dose of mystery around Nowhere and its inhabitants… You will want to keep reading until you reach the final page and find out all about Nowhere and its mysteries. Recommended!

3. Wires And Nerve by Marissa Meyer (3/5 stars) REVIEW 26/02
While it was great to visit the original characters again, I do think a lot of them felt really different from the way they behaved in the original books. Take Thorne: he was one of my favorite characters, but I seriously couldn’t stand him in the graphic novel. Also, I wasn’t a big fan of the graphics in general. The lack of detail, overly simply graphics and overall blue tone just didn’t manage to convince me. As a whole, I feel this graphic novel was quite a disappointment and doesn’t live up to The Lunar Chronicles.

4. The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter (5/5 stars) REVIEW 26/02
I am almost ashamed to admit it, but I had never read a Karin Slaughter book before I started The Good Daughter even though her books are wildly popular and they belong to one of my favorite genres. But no longer, because now I’ve tried her work I have become an instant fan. WOW! That woman can write… It was without doubt a highly intense read with a lot of complicated, disturbing scenes and elements and trigger warnings are in place for violence, abuse, rape among other things. The school shooting scenes are also a painful reminder of what happened in Florida recently… There is no denying the story and it’s many subplots, twists and turns are brilliantly executed and I take my hat off for it. Say hello to my very first 5 star read of 2018!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I have been misbehaving on NG recently, so I have three NG titles coming up next as a result. The first, Proof Of Lies by Diana Rodriguez Wallach, is the first book of a series I need to read so I can get on track for the sequel I will be joining the blog tour of in March (due March 15th!). Next is Barbed Wire Heart by Tess Sharpe, a thriller that sounds SO good and can’t wait to dive into. I also need to read All Things Bright And Strange by James Markert. I just couldn’t resist requesting it after What Blooms From Dust… My newest TBR jar pick is still Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke.


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WWW Wednesdays #163 – February 14th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

It is likely I’ll actually finish The Art Of French Kissing by Brianna R Shrum before this scheduled post goes up, since I don’t have all that many pages left… But as I’m typing this, I still haven’t finished it yet. 😉 I needed something light and fluffy after Lilac Girls and picked up this title on a whim after browsing the NG Read Now section. YA contemporary romance isn’t really my genre, BUT I can really enjoy them if they are done right or if I’m in the right mood. And this one was definitely a perfect match for me. Sure, it’s a bit cheesy and there are cliches, but it’s easy to read, cute and there is a LOT of food talk involved. Basically, this book makes me crave all kind of delicious food! I also read a few pages of What Blooms From Dust by James Markert, which I will pick up again today. I’m mighty confused so far though!

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Take The Key And Lock Her Up by Ally Carter (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 18/02
Unfortunately, Take The Key And Lock Her Up is by far the weakest book of the trilogy and it’s sad to see a series end on this note as it started out so promising. One of the biggest problems I had was with the main character Grace. Her whole attitude, dialogue and actions seriously annoyed me and it was one of the reasons the final book didn’t work for me. I wasn’t 100% convinced by the writing either, but this is probably mostly related to Grace and her dialogue. And the whole love triangle and romance put a damper on things as well. As for the plot… If you look critically, nothing much is actually happening during this final adventure, or at least I missed the intensity and suspense.

2. Hollo by Devon Michael (4/5 stars) REVIEW 19/02
If you are looking for an endearing, whimsical and magical read, Hollo is a great choice. From the writing style to the worldbuilding, characters and descriptions; you will be enchanted by Hollo and her magical world of Thedes and enjoy her journey. Hollo is perfectly suited for the younger YA fantasy fans despite the magical battles and some details, and it has another bonus in the form of a romance-free story! I can definitely recommend this one.

3. Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly (4/5 stars) REVIEW 16/02
This was actually a buddyread with wonderful Nicki @ Secret Library. I’m so glad I finally got the chance to read this one! I can definitely understand the love for this historical fiction read now, although I do admit it left me with a huge book hangover. Especially the WWII holocaust camp scenes are intense and gruesome! My favorite POV of the three is definitely Kasia, although I did warm up to Caroline as well after a while. Her chapters were without doubt a welcome break in between the other two POVs… I really didn’t like Herta though, although I guess that is kind of natural with her being a camp doctor and doing the things she does? Her POV does add dept to the story. More in my review…

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m SO excited that after my current reads I’ll be finally picking up my very first Karin Slaughter book The Good Daughter! I know I’m more than fashionably late to the party, but I’m having high hopes of becoming an instant fan of her work. I also need to read The Visitor by K.L. Slater, a title I have been looking forward to a LOT. I also should pick up The Last Star by Rick Yancey to get rid of another unfinished series on my list… I can’t say I was a fan of the first two books, so it will probably be a bit of a struggle reading that one though. And I have a new TBR jar pick after waaaay too long! *drumroll* Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke. This one does have a low rating and a lot of mixed reviews, and this was definitely a cover buy. 😉 I’m curious what I will make of it though.


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WWW Wednesdays #162 – February 7th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m so excited to be finally starting our buddy read of Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly with Nicki @ Secret Library! This title was actually a TBR jar pick months ago, but somehow I never actually picked it up… But no longer! I’m so excited to be finally reading this one. Also on my currently reading list is Take The Key And Lock Her Up by Ally Carter, a 2016 most-anticipated release I somehow never actually picked up either. It’s the third and final book of the series, so I’ll be able to cross off yet another series on my to-do list soon!

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (4/5 stars) REVIEW 10/02
I’m definitely happy I finally gave this one a go… I went in completely blind and was pleasantly surprised with the whole dystopian angle being dropped after what seems like a contemporary beginning. The writing is enchanting and I really liked the ‘after’ storyline set twenty years after the disaster… Very intriguing. I did feel the plot felt a bit disjointed with all those different storylines, and things might get a bit confusing with all the different characters in the beginning, but that doesn’t take away I really enjoyed reading it.

2. As Dead As It Gets by Katie Alender (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 18/02
While I still think the first book is the strongest, As Dead As It Gets without doubt makes a comeback from what I call a ‘weak-second-book-syndrome’. The writing is engaging and reads superfast as always, making it a fun, exciting and speedy paranormal read. The plot is darker than the second book and adds a level of suspension to the story… Without doubt an interesting final adventure, although I’m still on the fence whether I like the ending or not.

3. A Castle In Romagna by Igor Stiks (2/5 stars) REVIEW 08/02
I had such high hopes for this story, especially since the blurb sounded really promising, but unfortunately the story fell completely flat for me. Between the writing style, lack of dept and development in both the plot and characters and the failed dual storyline, I had a hard time reading A Castle In Romagna. Although I keep wondering if some of its charm has been lost in translation.

4. The Lot Of A Nobody by Dave Johnston (4/5 stars) REVIEW 11/02
I needed something fun to brighten up my day, and this was EXACTLY the read I needed in my life. I already knew I would probably like it after seeing positive reviews a while back from bloggers with a similar taste, and I will definitely add myself to that group. I was able to take to the main character straight away and the writing style is just spot on. Engaging, quirky, direct, funny, a little blunt… The right kind of tone for a story I didn’t even know I was looking for when I started reading The Lot Of A Nobody. I LOVED the Nobody quotes at the beginning of each chapter as well as the perfect balance of contemporary and fantasy elements. Maybe even magical realism? Although only in the best possible way… Definitely a winner.

5. Black Heart by Anna-Lou Weatherley (4/5 stars) REVIEW 12/02
I couldn’t resist requesting a copy after certain bloggers (hint hint) kept going on about how great this detective thriller was… And I definitely agree. It’s refreshing to follow a male detective again for a change, even though he has the ‘usual’ complicated past baggage with him… And I do have a weak spot for a serial killer thriller. The writing draws you right in and it was without doubt a lightning-speed fast thriller ride… The plot was a bit predictable though and it was quite clear early on who the killer really was. There just weren’t all that many plot twists and surprises? That doesn’t take away I had a blast reading this one and I will definitely look forward to the next book in the series.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m probably reading Hollo by Devon Michael next depending on what genre I’m in the mood for. It’s another ARC I was supposed to read ages ago… (sorry!) I also want to read What Blooms From Dust by James Markert because I’m pretty intrigued by the blurb. And since I don’t have any pressing NG thriller releases anymore (YAY!!!!), I’ll be finally picking up my very first Karin Slaughter book The Good Daughter. I know I’m more than fashionably late to the party, but I’m having high hopes of becoming an instant fan of her work. I also should pick up The Last Star by Rick Yancey to get rid of another unfinished series on my list… I can’t say I was a fan of the first two books, so it will probably be a bit of a struggle reading that one though.


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WWW Wednesdays #159 – January 17th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m almost finished with The Silent Girls by Dylan Young, which is turning out to be a really good start of a new detective series. I’m about to start The New Hunger by Isaac Marion as well, a Warm Bodies novella I’ve been meaning to read for a while. I still have to get a copy of the sequel; hopefully some time this year… I’m not a big zombie fan, but I remember enjoying the first book.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Ends Of The World by Maggie Hall (3/5 stars) REVIEW 27/01
I picked up this title as part of my goal to finish more series this year… I really enjoyed the first two books of this trilogy so I was looking forward to it, but unfortunately The Ends Of The World ended up disappointing me. Too much focus on the romance and political background and the spark of the previous books was completely missing. The international settings saved this final book for me, but all in all not the thrilling ending I was expecting.

2. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne (4/5 stars) REVIEW 27/01
Oh yes, I definitely know why so many people love this book now. Because even though I’m not into romance and hate both sexy scenes and love triangles, Sally Thorne made me completely forget about that and I had a blast reading this one. Even though there are a lot of cliches in this book and the whole ‘gorgeous, gorgeous, I’m drooling’ thing can get annoying, somehow the dynamics worked and resulted in a highly entertaining read.

3. Deep Blue Trouble by Steph Broadribb (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 22/01
I messed up and didn’t realise this was actually a sequel, but besides a few confusing first pages it wasn’t that hard to follow the story without the background info. This was one firecracker of a thriller and such a good read! I loved the bounty hunter angle and both the writing and plot are excellent. Highly recommended for sure.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I did it again, misbehaved and requested another Bookouture thriller… And since the publish date is today, I want to read Vanishing Girls by Lisa Regan ASAP. As part of the whole finishing my series goal, I’m probably picking up The Last Star by Rick Yancey afterwards even though I’m not a big fan of the first two books… I want to read The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater for the same reason, but I might wait a little until I have time to binge-read all three books since I have a few other titles I want to get to as well. My latest TBR jar pick is still Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly.


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