Big Announcement!

I know it’s getting late for my UK folks and it’s middle of the day for the USA peeps, but I wanted to share the latest development with The Suspense Is Thrilling Me. Lately I’ve felt a bit overwhelmed with the sheer amount of review requests I’ve received, book mail I’ve gotten, and regular life stuff like our recent move and my grandmother passing. I’ve been on the hunt for a guest reviewer for a few months but was having trouble finding people as most of my contacts either have their own blog or are already reviewing for someone else. My goal wasn’t to take away from anyone else, but rather share the platform with someone new and looking for a place to review without the full responsibility of their own blog. I’m pleased to say I received a recommendation recently and connected with the perfect lady! Some of you may know author Charlie Donlea (Summit Lake The Girl Who Was Taken), but what you don’t know is that he has a sister who loves books just as much as he does! Please help me give a warm welcome to Mary Donlea-Murphy! You’ll be seeing much more of her on here; I’ve included a little bit about her below so that you can get to know her too.

 

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Mary is a wife and mother of two with a voracious appetite for thrillers! She is on a quest to read ALL the books (and drink ALL the wine). She always has at least 3 books on her nightstand and a list a mile long on her Goodreads want-to-read list. When she’s not reading, Mary binge watches Fixer Upper and falls down the rabbit hole that is Pinterest more often than she cares to admit.

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Review: Roar

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Book Title: Roar
Author: Cora Carmack
Series: Stormheart #1
Genres: YA, Romance, Fantasy, Fiction
Goodreads

Date Read: 02/18/17
Pub Date: 06/13/17

5 STARS

In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage. She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough. Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.

I guess I’ve put writing this review off long enough. I keep feeling like, if I don’t write this, I don’t have to let go of this story yet. When I first read the above description of said book, I immediately thought “Great, another cliche YA fantasy filled with tropes of white, timid girls saving the day, love triangles where all the boys are unrealistically pining after one extra spoiled lady, and a let down of a plot because my expectations of how awesome controlling storms would be simply can’t measure up.” Sound about right? However, I kept seeing this little book popping up all over my Goodreads feed, so when I was offered an early copy from the publisher, peer pressure got to me and I caved because I like having things earlier than I’m supposed to. Let me just tell you folks, if you are a fan of YA fantasy with a bit of romance, immediately click that pre-order button because you need some Stormlings in your life, I promise. As a fair warning, there may be some extremely mild spoilers below, so if you’d like to go in completely blind, I’d recommend stopping reading this and clicking HERE. If you want to get a little more feel of the book then follow along.

“You are lightning made flesh. Colder than falling snow. Unstoppable as the desert sands riding the wind. You are Stormling. Aurora Pavan. Believe it.
Believe it, and others will too.”

 Let’s start with our main character. This is where I was most concerned before entering into the book; I can’t tell you how many books I’ve read (and probably you as well) where the protagonist is a pale, white 18 year old female who is unsure of herself, even though the book tells us for PAGES how perfectly above average she is in looks and talent. This girl also falls at the feet of any guy to show her attention, and usually has saved her virginity for a mainstream view of an abnormally long time, only to give it up in one quick moment. This particular trope has gotten old, so you can see the concern when our main character is described as a pale, white 18 year old female. Thankfully, this story is different. I won’t go into too much detail, but the first chapter leads us to believe the story is going in one direction and brings us a significant twist right away, showing that this book will indeed be different. I love how there is no love triangle in this book; the romance that is there is very engaging, but also very tame and somewhat ties into the reasoning behind portions of the action. The remaining characters are fairly diverse, at least racially, and the band of friends that we follow throughout the story remind me a bit of our gang in the Six of Crows duology, although I hate to make that comparison and raise expectations unintentionally. I feel this crew had their own strengths and weaknesses compared to Kaz’s crew, but gave me that same close feeling that I had while reading those books.

“Soul of fire, soul of rage
No longer bound by flesh or cage,
Soul exalted, soul made new
Reserved for those devout and true.”
-“The Way of Souls” (A Sacred Soul Hymn)

 The plot was actually very complex, layered as an onion to where, once we had a portion figured out, it opened up others that were still a mystery. I did have to devote my full attention in the beginning for the world building, as this fantasy realm is very different than the others I’ve previously read. There is intricate detail of multiple lands that I found completely mesmerizing; I adored how realistic it was and didn’t account for how caught up I’d become until I had to check back in to reality. There is so much action in the plot that makes it paced really well; I could hardly put this down and do all the other things I needed to during my days. The entire premise of certain lineages being able to control storms, and said storms having a “heart” really intrigued me and I found the story to be much better than my wildest expectations. This has a “half mythological/half modern fantasy” feel which caused a nice balance without either aspect feeling forced. I grew close to the characters and felt really sad to have turned the last page and have nowhere else to follow them (for the time being). And that cover? Absolutely stunning.

I’d highly recommend this to fans of any sect of YA fantasy; the romance was mild and age appropriate for all teens. This is the type of book that would even make a great cross-over into YA Sci-Fi as it toes the edge of some pieces that would fit nicely there. Such a well-written and exciting YA debut; I now have a complete book hangover that is almost as severe as when I finished ACOMAF last year. This one was so good I’m going to have to buy a finished copy for my special shelf at home in hopes of a re-read before the next book in the series is published.

Many thanks to the publisher for providing my copy via NetGalley; it was an absolute delight and privilege to provide an honest review. 

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Review: Blue Light Yokohama

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Book Title: Blue Light Yokohama
Author: Nicolas Obregon
Series: Inspector Iwata #1
Genres: Crime Fiction, Suspense, Thriller, Mystery, Police Procedural
Goodreads

Date Read: 02/16/17
Pub Date: 03/07/17

4 STARS

 

Newly reinstated to the Homicide Division and transferred to a precinct in Tokyo, Inspector Iwata is facing superiors who don’t want him there and is assigned a recalcitrant partner, Noriko Sakai, who’d rather work with anyone else. After the previous detective working the case killed himself, Iwata and Sakai are assigned to investigate the slaughter of an entire family, a brutal murder with no clear motive or killer. At the crime scene, they find puzzling ritualistic details. Black smudges. A strange incense smell. And a symbol—a large black sun. Iwata doesn’t know what the symbol means but he knows what the killer means by it: I am here. I am not finished.

As Iwata investigates, it becomes clear that these murders by the Black Sun Killer are not the first, nor the last attached to that symbol. As he tries to track down the history of black sun symbol, puzzle out the motive for the crime, and connect this to other murders, Iwata finds himself racing another clock—the superiors who are trying to have him removed for good.

This was a strong 4 stars for me. While it’s a slow burn, the writing is gorgeous and full bodied; I’ve never seen such horrific content described quite so beautifully. I think this is a series that will only grow stronger as it continues and I can’t wait to see where it goes. When I first was contacted about reading this one, I was in the middle of a hunt for more crime fiction featuring various cultures around the world. When I saw this book was prominently featuring Japanese culture, something I’m very unfamiliar with, I knew I had to get my hands on it.

“The lights of the city are so pretty Yokohama,
Blue Light Yokohama
I’m happy with you
Please let me hear Yokohama
Blue Light Yokohama
Those words of love from you”

-My Goodreads friend Maureen also used this quote from the book; just wanted to give her credit for using it first in a fantastic review!

The cool thing about this story, and what sets it apart from the dime a dozen other crime thrillers vying for our attention, is the tiny, unique details that create the big picture. I love how a simple song is used to create something so haunting and monstrous to tear our main character apart. The lead investigator, Inspector Iwata, is flawed and reeling from a recent personal tragedy that the reader is made aware of the details as the book continues. As I stated above, this book may not be appealing to those of a more sensitive nature; the subject matter is graphic and horrifying as it contains the slaughter of an entire family, thus leading us down the path of a dangerous series of murders that seem to be connected. However, if you choose to read this one and like books with these factors (as I clearly do), you’ll not find another novel that tells it’s story with such care and beauty; the writing style and quality are both excellent. Obregon has crafted a tale that we cannot look away from, nor would we want to if we could.

I was pleasantly surprised by the grand finale; I had not pieced together the ending and found that the many red herrings, twists, and turns were placed in a way that made the most of every opportunity. Fans of noir, foreign crime fiction, and well done police procedurals should poach this for their TBR pile. This was not the type of book you pick up to race through for sheer entertainment, but one that you savor and take in piece by piece as a learning experience. I’m pleased to say that I’m looking forward to the author’s next piece in the series and truly can’t wait to see where he takes Iwata.

*Many thanks to Martin at Minotaur Books for my copy; it was a pleasure to provide and honest review.

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Review: The Weight of Lies

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Book Title: The Weight of Lies
Author: Emily Carpenter
Series: None (But I’m rooting for a companion novel of Kitten!)
Genres: Mystery, Psychological Suspense, Thriller, Fiction
Goodreads

Date Read: 02/14/17
Pub Date: 06/06/17

5 STARS

Reformed party girl Meg Ashley leads a life of a privilege, thanks to a bestselling horror novel her mother wrote decades ago. But Meg knows that the glow of their very public life hides a darker reality of lies, manipulation, and the heartbreak of her own solitary childhood. Desperate to break free of her mother, Meg accepts a proposal to write a scandalous, tell-all memoir.

Digging into the past—and her mother’s cult classic—draws Meg to Bonny Island, Georgia and an unusual woman said to be the inspiration for the book. At first, island life seems idyllic, but as Meg starts to ask tough questions, disturbing revelations come to light…including some about her mother.

Soon, Meg’s search leads her to question the facts of a decades-old murder. She’s warned to leave it alone, but as the lies pile up, Meg knows she’s getting close to finding a murderer. When her own life is threatened, Meg realizes the darkness found in her mother’s book is nothing compared to the chilling truth that lurks off the page.

Oh, excuse me. I was busy staring at that gorgeous cover. I’ve actually been eyeballing that cover ever since we posted the reveal on this blog a few months back; it’s what initially drew me into wanting to read the book. This is most certainly a book you can judge by the cover because it’s brilliant! Be prepared for a gushing, swooning, fangirling review of the most exciting sense. This was a very structured, complex book, so I’m going to break it down below for you, spoiler free of course. If you choose not to read the full review, just note that this book comes highly recommended from me and is in the running for one of my top reads of 2017!

First let’s touch on the plot. Yes, I know, I hardly ever discuss the plot points of the stories I review, but this one needs a small discussion to prepare the reader for what they are in for, a large dose of exciting and unique storytelling. If you read the blurb above then you realize that the main plot involves protagonist Meg, daughter to mega superstar and horror writer Frances Ashley (think fame level of Stephen King but hyped up a bit more). Bonus points as our main character is a person of color and issues of racism/sexism are incorporated into the plot, so this is no sugar coated “white person saves the day” ordeal. *hand clap* The main plot in it’s most basic sense involves Meg trying to uncover secrets about her mother and the book she wrote in relation to real life crimes that occurred at the “real life” hotel that is a setting in her book. Still with me? Great. Next comes the alternating chapters; these are excerpts from Frances Ashley’s book titled Kitten and correspond with the main plot chapters in a way that you’ll pick up on as you read the book. While we’re on the subject of Kitten, I must say that I found myself so intrigued in this inception like book-within-a-book ordeal that I feel a companion novel of the entire Kitten story would be something I’d devour in an instant. Yes, most of the mystery is revealed in The Weight of Lies, but I think it would be a mind blowing read even knowing what I already know about the book. To sum it up, these two components, along with a handful of blog posts from fan sites, are what comprise TWOL. I know it sounds confusing, but I promise as you read it makes complete sense and flows well.

This was a wonderfully diverse book that touched on a good bit of tough issues that are comprised in a fictional account, yet examples of real world problems we currently face. Much of the story focuses on various Native American tribes and the atrocities that were committed against them and what was stolen from them. I absolutely love how Emily has written a story that slaps you in the face with reality; here you will not find hand holding and you must check your white privilege at the door, yet on the flip side there is also not a sense of white shaming here. This was simply a story stating how things are without apology and I find it encouraging. It is always refreshing for me to read about the struggles faced by people of different backgrounds and races than my own; I think it’s important to be consistently reminded that, while I didn’t have a say in my DNA, I can choose to use my voice to make other’s heard.

The thing that stood out most to me in regards to the plot is it’s simultaneous complexity and compulsiveness. There are quite literally no words I have to describe what I just read; I simply want to hand a book to all fans of psychological suspense and say “Read this so we can talk about it and use all the words I can’t in my spoiler free review”. I’ve not read a book anywhere close to this before; it has the creepy vibe and unique formatting of Night Film,  the in depth characterization of a Gillian Flynn novel, all while somehow seeming more intelligent than either of those with a flare of it’s own pizazz. You caught me, I’ve been waiting to use the word pizazz for months now in a review. My point is, this book gives you the satiety of a book that is layered with robust characters and a growing sense of dread all while having the quick pace and laid back air of a book that isn’t pretentious or pompous. I flew through the pages, and when I wasn’t reading the book I was thinking about it, donning my detective cap and trying to solve multiple mysteries at once. I may have contemplated using our basement as one of those crime scene rooms at the police station with all the pictures on the wall and red yarn. Mr. Humphrey said no. 😦 

I think I’ve rambled long enough, but my main point is READ THE DANG BOOK! I know, it doesn’t come out for a few months, but pre-order it! This is one that is worth purchasing, trust me. I can’t sing praises highly enough for this novel; I truly loved Carpenter’s Burying the Honeysuckle Girls last year and was so pleased to have found that her books just get better (if that’s possible) with each one she writes. My brain can’t comprehend how she kept everything straight to formulate the structure for this book, but let’s just say I’m glad it was her and not me. I truly didn’t have the ending figured out and was very pleased with the entire plot, beginning to end. Well done and I’m so excited to read more reviews on this one as it’s let loose into the wild!

*Many thanks to Emily for my early copy; it was a delight and a privilege to read it so early and I can’t wait to see what your brilliant brain dreams up next! ❤

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Review: Lucidity

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Book Title: Lucidity
Author: David Carnoy
Series: None, but features reoccurring characters from previous books
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Fiction
Goodreads

Date Read: 02/11/17
Pub Date: 02/07/17

4.5 STARS

 

Twenty years after the unsolved case of Stacey Walker’s disappearance went cold, a Silicone Valley executive hires the retired Menlo Park Police Detective Hank Madden to find her body and track down her missing husband, the prime suspect in her unsolved murder. Four months later, author Candace Epstein is pushed in front of a car near Central Park. Her editor Max Fremmer becomes entangled into the investigation of her attempted murder, though he is adamant that he is uninvolved. As he digs into Candace’s background to clear his own name, Fremmer grows suspicious of his client’s connection to a nefarious institute for lucid dreaming on the Upper East Side and its staff whose stories never seem to add up—all while an unexpected link emerges to Detective Madden’s investigation in California.

As similarities arise between the cases on each coast, Detective Madden and Fremmer forge an unlikely partnership to expose what misconduct lurks beneath the façade of the Lucidity Center—but can they unravel the secret that links their investigations together in time, or are they only dreaming?

I’ve been a long time fan of David Carnoy’s novels; he is a master at creating books that flow together with familiar characters yet also read easily as stand alone novels. If you are new to his work, you may choose to begin with Knife Music, where we are initially introduced to handicapped Detective Hank Madden, and then continue along with him to The Big Exit; if not, you may choose to pick up Lucidity as a standalone if you’re looking for a single read thats exciting and fast paced. Whatever your choice, you really can’t go wrong. I believe it was Janet, my librarian and all-around bibliophile aunt, who initially introduced me to Carnoy’s work and ever since I have eagerly anticipated each book he writes. While it’s true he doesn’t pop out 15 a year like some well-known authors, it is also a fact that he puts a great deal of time and care into crafting something truly special and unique for the reader; because of this I feel Lucidity is his best work to date.

It’s best to go into this book as blind as possible; the description above gives you everything you need to know so I won’t be rehashing the storyline or handing out any spoilers. What I will say is how truly satiating this novel is; the author turns the typical thriller into an intelligent, high quality read that doesn’t skimp on that compulsive “it factor” that causes many readers to choose the thriller genre. Here we don’t have to choose between fleshed out characters and a meaty plot or a fast paced story that’s impossible to put down; Carnoy has easily included it all, which is my top reason for being a repeat customer of his books. I believe the only minor factor that kept me from giving this a full 5 star review was the fact that all the pieces were tied up a little too neat and tidy for my taste; while this gave a full, satisfying ending, it also felt a little to perfect. Other than that, I felt this book couldn’t have done anything else to rank as a perfect read.

I know many fellow readers and bloggers who tend to shy away from straight up thrillers; they feel most books in this genre lack the depth and quality of others and only offer cheap thrills and timely pacing to serve as palate cleansers between other heavier reads. This is the type of thriller I would hand to those reviewers who are looking for more-more characterization, a more intelligent, intricate plot, and more to offer as a whole. The fact that the author can make me interested in a setting and plots involving Silicone Valley, something that has bored me to tears in the past, proves his talent in weaving together stories that have meaning and purpose. When I finish a book of his, I feel like I’ve accomplished something of value instead of binging on fluff. Highly recommended to those readers looking for quality without pretentiousness; this is the type of read anyone can pick up and follow well. Bring on the book hangover; my only regret is now having to wait for book #4!

*Many thanks to the author for providing my copy; it was a pleasure to share my thoughts free of bias or influence. 

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Review: The Gift

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Book Title: The Gift
Author: Louise Jensen
Series: None
Genres: Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Contemporary Fiction
Goodreads

Date Read: 01/31/17
Pub Date: 12/16/16

4 STARS

 

The perfect daughter. The perfect girlfriend. The perfect murder?

Jenna is seriously ill. She’s lost all hope of getting the heart transplant she needs to live. But just as her life is ebbing away, she receives a donor heart from a girl called Callie.
Who was Callie and how did she die? Jenna is determined to find out.

The closer Jenna gets to those who loved Callie, the more questions arise about her untimely death. Someone knows what happened to Callie. Why won’t they talk?

Jenna is about to uncover the truth, but it could cost her everything; her loved ones, her sanity, even her life.

Here I am desperately trying to catch up on reviews in the midst of the move. We are unexpectedly stuck in a hotel an extra week as the movers informed us last minute that our  stuff will not be arriving until this coming Friday, so I’m warily writing this with children climbing all over me and hair being pulled out. 🙂 Even though it’s been almost a week since I finished this book I still remember it vividly and my feelings haven’t changed in the slightest. If you enjoyed The Sister like I did, then I think you’ll be pleased as punch with The Gift. While the content of her latest was significantly different than her debut, I found that the style of writing, flow of plot line, and feeling the characters gave were comfortably consistent and similar.

***MINOR SPOILERS BELOW***

I’m not sure how deep to go into discussion as spoilers are easily let loose regarding the plot, but I was intrigued in the direction she chose to take this story. I’ll be honest, I have done little research on the subject of cellular memory, but found it so intriguing after finishing this book that I had to do more research on current beliefs surrounding it. While the plot was a bit far fetched (you are required to put aside realistic expectations while reading), I found it enjoyable and exciting! There were so many “what ifs” that really drew me in and caused me to constantly question what was going to happen. I’ve seen a spike in recent trends regarding psychological thrillers containing supernatural elements or magical realism aspects and I’m truly torn. I’ve been brought up by the industry to expect realistic and natural, yet fictional stories in this genre and these current books give me a simultaneous feeling of excitement and discomfort in feeling I was duped into reading something outside of the genre I selected. That being said, I’m really glad my expectations are being challenged and that I’m broadening my horizons. This was one of the best reads involving non-traditional thriller plot lines I’ve experienced yet, and may have had enough effect to sway my opinion on the matter.

If you’re looking for a psychological thriller that is different, fresh, and unique, pick this one up! I was considerably impressed and find after reading both of her books that Jensen’s novels are perfect when I need to grab something that I know will be enjoyable. If you’re new to her work, The Gift is just as perfect to start with as The Sister. I’m really thrilled to see what she produces next; I can see why everyone is raving about her books constantly! Once again Bookouture has signed another talented, multi-dimensional author who grabs our attention from first to last page (with gorgeous covers!). Recommended to thriller fans willing to put aside pre-conceived notions of the genre and those looking to spice up their reading routine.

*Many thanks to Bookouture for providing my copy via NetGalley; it was a pleasure to read it!

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Review: The Good Daughter

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Book Title: The Good Daughter
Author: WH Brown
Series: None
Genres: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Mystery, Fiction
Goodreads

Date Read: 01/26/17
Pub Date: 07/11/16

4 STARS

Edith Charring, a 17-year-old sixth-form student from Dulwich, enjoys going out and clubbing the night away with her small coterie of equally privileged schoolmates.

But her seemingly perfect life is a LIE.

For Edith carries a terrible burden: six years ago, in a seedy part of town, her mother fell under the wheels of a Tube train in suspicious circumstances.

As Edith looks deeper into her mother’s death, she unearths a web of secrets and lies that she was never meant to uncover …

And is she going crazy?

Or is her mother really leaving her a trail of clues to follow from beyond the grave?

This was book #3 in my TBConFB 2017 reading challenge and it did not disappoint. For those of you unfamiliar with the group, its The Book Club on Facebook where over 6,000 readers and authors have come together to exchange reviews and book recommendations without self promotion, meaning it’s just a laid back, fun group for all types of book lovers. The idea is, if you choose to participate, you pick 20 books to include based on the description given for each number (ex. a book with a color in the title); the catch is all 20 books must come from TBC authors, meaning they are members of the group. This was an exciting challenge for me as it’s forced me to put aside some review copies to make room for books I’ve been wanting to read but felt guilty carving out time for. It’s also a fantastic way to support authors who may not have a large publishing house backing their promotion, which I’m always excited about. That said, The Good Daughter was my choice for “a title including the word Mother/Daughter/Sister” and I’m really glad I chose it!

This was most definitely a psychological thriller that leaned heavily on being character driven rather than loads of high speed action; this is not a criticism, rather a plus in my opinion, but those looking for an action thriller won’t be the right target for this one. That’s not to say that it’s boring, far from it, but this read will be enjoyed by those looking for the focus to be on developing characters for a majority of the book then finishing off with a bit of thrilling twists. The suspense starts out as a twinge of unease and ends in a full blown, panic induced stone in your gut. I found myself constantly questioning if Edith was crazy or if something more sinister was at work; you’ll have to read the book to find out, but I was very pleased with the ending and how things wrapped up.

I’d highly recommend this to those looking for a quick, compelling read while also supporting an indie author. If you are looking for another book for your 2017 TBC challenge, this is a fantastic one to add! At the time of this writing, it’s available on kindle for $1.24 in the US and last I checked it was 99p for the UK. There are so few reviews on Goodreads that I’d be interested in comparing notes with someone else once they’ve read this one! A wonderful debut that has me excited to read what the author writes next!

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