Author: Shea Ernshaw
Genre: magical realism, mystery/thriller
Age Group: adult
ARC?: No

Travis Wren has an unusual talent for locating missing people. Hired by families as a last resort, he requires only a single object to find the person who has vanished. When he takes on the case of Maggie St. James—a well-known author of dark, macabre children’s books—he’s led to a place many believed to be only a legend.

Called “Pastoral,” this reclusive community was founded in the 1970s by like-minded people searching for a simpler way of life. By all accounts, the commune shouldn’t exist anymore and soon after Travis stumbles upon it… he disappears. Just like Maggie St. James.

Years later, Theo, a lifelong member of Pastoral, discovers Travis’s abandoned truck beyond the border of the community. No one is allowed in or out, not when there’s a risk of bringing a disease—rot—into Pastoral. Unraveling the mystery of what happened reveals secrets that Theo, his wife, Calla, and her sister, Bee, keep from one another. Secrets that prove their perfect, isolated world isn’t as safe as they believed—and that darkness takes many forms.


Review

I love Shea Ernshaw so I picked this book up and added it to my wishlist without even reading what it was about. I mean…it’s Shea Ernshaw, what’s not to like?

For me…well. I liked the book. I did, but it just was not what I was expecting. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I just didn’t realize what it was about. Would I have wanted to read this book if I had read the description?

No, I probably would not have. And I’m glad I didn’t because I did enjoy the book, even if it wasn’t what I was expecting. I want to say there was nothing that I overly dislike about this novel. I can’t say that I hated any part of it, because I didn’t.

Ernshaw’s writing is just so stunningly beautiful and it lull’s you into the story. I love reading her books because it is so easy to become engrossed and lost in the atmosphere of the book. You get sucked in and aren’t let out until you finish the book.

Part of that is because I felt, even after I finished reading this book I was still thinking about it, and all the little intricate pieces that Ernshaw had woven into the story.

I felt this was a different type of mystery/thriller than I’ve seen recently. It wasn’t your typical one I would say, which makes it stand out among all the mystery/thrillers. And the ending too, was unexpected to me. I was rather shocked about it.

I did love how the story held together and how the plot led you on a journey. There were some parts that had me scratching my head and wondering if I was imagining things and the other half of me was speculating.

I very much enjoyed this book even if it was different than what I expected. I love how the story unfolded and when little clues were revealed to us.

I recommend this book to people who like mind bending thrillers, but at a slower pace. 

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Author: Tara Sim
Series: The Dark Gods
Series #: 1
Genre: fantasy, dark fantasy
Age Group: adult
ARC?: yes

The Four Realms—Life, Death, Light, and Darkness—all converge on the city of dusk. For each realm there is a god, and for each god there is an heir.

But the gods have withdrawn their favor from the once vibrant and thriving city. And without it, all the realms are dying.

Unwilling to stand by and watch the destruction, the four heirs—Risha, a necromancer struggling to keep the peace; Angelica, an elementalist with her eyes set on the throne; Taesia, a shadow-wielding rogue with rebellion in her heart; and Nik, a soldier who struggles to see the light— will sacrifice everything to save the city.

But their defiance will cost them dearly.


Review

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

I love a good epic/high fantasy, and the description of this book sounded so good. And like something that I would really enjoy. As anyone knows, adult fantasy often comes with a lot of worldbuilding. It’s got the time for it, and the need for it. From the first moment we are thrown into a vibrant world, wherein not too much is explained. In this you sort of must figure things out for yourself. However, it also feels a bit on the YA side?

Compared to other fantasy books the beginning of this was quite intense, and it was the setup of the characters and their future. We dove right on it. However, once we get past the beginning the pace of the book slows down. And I felt a lot of it wasn’t necessary to be honest.

We have multiple POV characters (which I thought overall was done well), and I felt that the characters were all individualistic which is nice. They all had personalities even if I didn’t always like them. Characters don’t have to be likeable after all. I enjoyed the family relationships some of the characters had as well, such as Dante and Taesia.

The one thing I wished is that she had stuck with the same POVs throughout the entire book, and not added or dropped any at random parts. It was a lot of POVs and it did work; because it was bringing together what was to happen at the end.

We get to about 35% and the pace does pick up a little bit. We start to see more of the plot come together (and then some of the plot fall apart…and not be picked up at all the rest of the book). But the overall plot was solid, and it was quite epic.

I found certain aspects of the book frustrating. (The parts with Dante, because he and Taesia are pretty much my favorite characters).

I think this is a good start to the series, I’m still not totally sure what to make of it. Like, I liked it. I did! But at the same time I didn’t like it, and I cannot put my finger on what that dividing line is.

Yes, the ending was epic. But some of the buildup just wasn’t there for me the way I wanted it to.

I really enjoyed the writing in this book; I think it was superb, and I think Sim is a great storyteller. I just don’t know if I just wasn’t vibing with this book…or something else. Either way, I think this is a series I may or may not continue. And as I mentioned previously, this book reads more YA than adult. 

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Author: Scarlett St. Clair
Series: Adrian x Isolde
Series #: 1
Genre: fantasy, romance, erotica
Age Group: adult
ARC?: No

Their Union Is His Revenge.
Isolde de Lara considers her wedding day her death day. To end a years-long war, she is to marry vampire king, Adrian Aleksandr Vasiliev, and kill him. ⠀
But her assassination attempt is thwarted and Adrian threatens that if Isolde tries kill him again, he will raise her as the undead. Faced with the possibility of becoming the thing she hates most, Isolde seeks other ways to defy him and survive the brutal vampire court. ⠀
Except it isn’t the court she fears most—it’s Adrain. Despite their undeniable chemistry, she wonders why the king——fierce, savage, merciless—chose her as consort. ⠀
The answer will shatter her world. 


Review

I knew what I was going into when I picked this book up – and I enjoyed it. I called it From Blood and Ash Lite. I thought I was funny. Really, the only similarity is vampires and the fact that it is paranormal fantasy. With ~~~spice~~~. Which, if you know what this is going in, you won’t be disappointed. I’ve seen quite a few reviews panning this for what it is, so just be aware going in, a lot of the book is explicit as romance is the center piece of this book.

I enjoyed the book for what it was. It was a fun book to read, and while it wasn’t very plot heavy, there was enough plot that it was still enjoyable. The plot looks like it is going to really start going in the next book to be honest. This one felt more like a setup for the future books.

I liked the side characters in this story as well. Sorin was one of my favorites as well. And there were queer characters incorporated nicely, I thought.

I liked the relationship between Isolde and Adrien well enough, but at some parts I was slightly frustrated with their interactions with each other. I know there was a point to it, but some of those interactions just bothered me.

I can’t explain why I didn’t love love this book, but enjoyed it. I’m not sure what it was, maybe the characters weren’t just as fleshed out as I would like.

One thing that was supremely well fleshed out was the worldbuilding. And as we went along we learned more about the world that Isolde and Adrien live in. There is a bit of political intrigue in this book, but not too much.

There are quite a few beheadings in this book! Not super gory though, which is great for me.

If you like paranormal and spicy books with vampires then this will be a book you enjoy! (especially if you enjoyed FBAA)

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Author: Lynn Painter
Genre: romance, rom-com
Age Group: adult
ARC?: Yes

Things get textual when a steamy message from a random wrong number turns into a thrilling anonymous relationship in this hilarious rom-com by Lynn Painter.

Bad luck has always followed Olivia Marshall…or maybe she’s just the screw-up her family thinks she is. But when a “What are you wearing?” text from a random wrong number turns into the hottest, most entertaining—albeit anonymous—relationship of her life, she thinks things might be on the upswing….

Colin Beck has always considered Olivia his best friend’s annoying little sister, but when she moves in with them after one of her worst runs of luck, he realizes she’s turned into an altogether different and sexier distraction. He’s sure he can keep his distance, until the moment he discovers she’s the irresistible Miss Misdial he’s been sort of sexting for weeks—and now he has to decide whether to turn the heat up or ghost her before things get messy. 


Review

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review.

3 stars

There was nothing actively wrong with this book. I enjoyed it, and I definitely got a few laughs out of it, but it didn’t grab me by the throat and make me scream I LOVE THIS BOOK. I love the hilarity of all the accidents and the bad luck Liv had; but at a certain point it just started to fall flat to me, because just how much bad luck could she have?

And Colin’s POV did irritate me some because I wanted to shake him. I take that back, I wanted to shake them both at some points. I don’t know, I just didn’t fall in love with their romance as I had wanted to.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a super cute romance book that I think is going to appeal to a lot of people, it just ended up not being the perfect book for me. I felt that there was something missing, something from the heart.

So to end this review, it was an enjoyable book and there was nothing outright wrong with it, I just didn’t love it. I don’t even have that many comments to make because I just wasn’t feeling it. 

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Author: Laura Sebastian
Series: Castles in Their Bones
Series #: 1
Genre: fantasy
Age Group: Young Adult
ARC?: Yes

Empress Margaraux has had plans for her daughters since the day they were born. Princesses Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz will be queens. And now, age sixteen, they each must leave their homeland and marry their princes.
Beautiful, smart, and demure, the triplets appear to be the perfect brides—because Margaraux knows there is one common truth: everyone underestimates a girl. Which is a grave mistake. Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz are no innocents. They have been trained since birth in the arts of deception, seduction, and violence with a singular goal—to bring down monarchies— and their marriages are merely the first stage of their mother’s grand vision: to one day reign over the entire continent of Vesteria.
The princesses have spent their lives preparing, and now they are ready, each with her own secret skill, and each with a single wish, pulled from the stars. Only, the stars have their own plans—and their mother hasn’t told them all of hers.
Life abroad is a test. Will their loyalties stay true? Or will they learn that they can’t trust anyone—not even each other?


Review

Thank you to the publisher for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I have loved everything that Laura Sebastian has written. Ash Princess was an amazing YA trilogy, and Half Sick of Shadows was an amazing standalone adult book. Therefore, I was BEYOND excited when I got an e-ARC of this book. I was literally drooling with happiness. You have no idea how much I was dancing around. I went into this series expecting to be four or five starring it. And then I started reading the book. And I was disappointed. I felt my stomach drop and my heart sink. I was imagining it right? I was hoping that I was imagining it. Because this couldn’t be one of my most anticipated reads letting me down, could it?

Sadly, it did. I struggled over what I was going to rate this book in the end, because the concept was fabulous. It seemed like something that I would adore – written by a favorite author!! How dare it let me down? And yet, there were aspects of this book that I struggled with overall.

First, the writing didn’t feel up to par as with Ash Princess. It just didn’t read the same – and something about it bothered me, but I can’t quite put my finger on what it is.

Then you have the three POVs, and sisters, all of which were very different, and had different personalities. I thought it was nice that you could see that they were distinct. However, the downside is that I was more interested in Daphne’s story than anyone else’s. I felt that she was more fleshed out of the three sisters.

Another aspect I struggled with was that I felt the pacing and the balance of intrigue and action just wasn’t working for me the way that I wanted it to.

I was absolutely desperate to love this book, and I just feel overall for me, the book wasn’t as good as I had hoped. There was something missing for me…and I don’t know what that spark is. No one is more disappointed that I that I’m not giving this a four or five star rating.

I am giving it 3.5 stars, because I did enjoy the book. But I’m still sad that I didn’t love it. That ending though…that ending was something and gives me hope for the sequels!

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Author: Morgan Rhodes
Series:
Series #: 1
Genre: fantasy
Age Group: young adult
ARC?: yes

Josslyn Drake knows only three things about magic: it’s rare, illegal, and always deadly. So when she’s caught up in a robbery gone wrong at the Queen’s Gala and infected by a dangerous piece of magic—one that allows her to step into the memories of an infamously evil warlock—she finds herself living her worst nightmare. Joss needs the magic removed before it corrupts her soul and kills her. But in Ironport, the cost of doing magic is death, and seeking help might mean scheduling her own execution. There’s nobody she can trust.
Nobody, that is, except wanted criminal Jericho Nox, who offers her a deal: his help extracting the magic in exchange for the magic itself. And though she’s not thrilled to be working with a thief, especially one as infuriating (and infuriatingly handsome) as Jericho, Joss is desperate enough to accept.
But Jericho is nothing like Joss expects. The closer she grows with Jericho and the more she sees of the world outside her pampered life in the city, the more Joss begins to question the beliefs she’s always taken for granted—beliefs about right and wrong, about power and magic, and even about herself.
In an empire built on lies, the truth may be her greatest weapon.


Review

Thank you to the publisher for an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I absolutely loved Rhodes’s Falling Kingdoms series. When I got the chance to get an e-ARC of this book I was extremely excited. I was expecting something similar to the Falling Kingdoms series. I was surprised though to see photography and cars in this book! I was not expecting that, so I was a little bit nervous, because I hadn’t expected that, and so I was a bit thrown off at first that this wasn’t more like high fantasy and is instead “urban” fantasy. Nevertheless, once I started reading, I had a hard time putting the book down once I got into it.

I enjoyed Rhodes’ writing in this book, but not as much as Falling Kingdoms. The tone had a more modern feeling – and that gave it a bit more oomph for me to be believable. I think that Rhodes’ is a great writer and her works are accessible, because she writes in a way that is easy to read. It’s often a nice change from writing that is so convoluted you want to throw the book out of a window. I very much enjoyed that about this book.

What also worked for me was the pacing of the book. It was a dance of precision, of keeping the mystery going as well as the action at the same time. You have moments of “peace” and then you slip into an action heavy segment. This works for the book as the writing gives it momentum to keep going – and I had to keep turning pages!

The plot of this book is so intriguing. It is a bit of a mystery, so I loved to see how it was slowly unfolding and how Joss began to see what she thought was true, might not be as true as she thought it was. This ties in with the amazing romance plot. I am a huge sucker for enemies to lovers and that was what this book was. It was also filled with interesting relationships between the other characters.

Joss and Jericho were such great characters, and I loved following them on their adventure! I loved their banter with each other as well. It was amusing to say the least. And the romance was spot on for me.

AND THAT ENDING. That ending was amazing! I mean I was blown away by the ending. This book had been a firm four star read for me, and the last 10% upped it into the five star category for me. It was a stunning book and I am SO EXCITED to find out what happens next.

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Author: Casey McQuiston
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: LGBTQ+, romance, myster
Age Group: young adult
ARC?: yes

Chloe Green is so close to winning. After her moms moved her from SoCal to Alabama for high school, she’s spent the past four years dodging gossipy classmates and a puritanical administration at Willowgrove Christian Academy. The thing that’s kept her going: winning valedictorian. Her only rival: prom queen Shara Wheeler, the principal’s perfect progeny.


But a month before graduation, Shara kisses Chloe and vanishes.


On a furious hunt for answers, Chloe discovers she’s not the only one Shara kissed. There’s also Smith, Shara’s longtime quarterback sweetheart, and Rory, Shara’s bad boy neighbor with a crush. The three have nothing in common except Shara and the annoyingly cryptic notes she left behind, but together they must untangle Shara’s trail of clues and find her. It’ll be worth it, if Chloe can drag Shara back before graduation to beat her fair-and-square.


Thrown into an unlikely alliance, chasing a ghost through parties, break-ins, puzzles, and secrets revealed on monogrammed stationery, Chloe starts to suspect there might be more to this small town than she thought. And maybe—probably not, but maybe—more to Shara, too.


Review

Thank you to the publisher for an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.


First off; I still love RW&RB more than anything McQuiston’s written since. Saying that, as their first foray into YA, this book read way more to the adult end. There isn’t anything in here resembling adult content, but it has the feel of an adult book written about teenagers and there is nothing wrong with that.

In fact, I love McQuiston’s writing. It’s fabulous. They truly have a gift for writing, and reading each page was a general pleasure. Even during some of the parts that I struggled with. And that’s just because I don’t enjoy YA contemporary that much anymore, but McQuiston’s name was on it, therefore I had to read it.

Overall, I think the book was good. It had themes that are going to resonate with each other, and as with all their books there was a bunch of diversity and pretty much the entire cast of characters were queer. I think this is really going to appeal to teens who seek to see themselves represented in places where it seems the most unlikely.

This shows how it feels to grow up in a very religious area who do not like anything different and still have racism embedded in the everyday life. But it also shows that there are people who are different from that; and that not everybody who lives there is terrible, and I think that is so important for teens who feel isolated or that they’re the only ones who feel like that.

I think this was a powerful book and is going to be very popular and become well loved. It was well written and touches on important topics in a way that meshes well with the story.

I think my only major complaints are that sometimes I felt the characters were a little flat, and that the pacing/plot of the story was a little awkward. But it was an enjoyable read.

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Author: Laura Sebastian
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: fantasy, retelling
Age Group: adult
ARC?: no

Everyone knows the legend. Of Arthur, destined to be a king. Of the beautiful Guinevere, who will betray him with his most loyal knight, Lancelot. Of the bitter sorceress, Morgana, who will turn against them all. But Elaine alone carries the burden of knowing what is to come–for Elaine of Shalott is cursed to see the future.


On the mystical isle of Avalon, Elaine runs free and learns of the ancient prophecies surrounding her and her friends–countless possibilities, almost all of them tragic.


When their future comes to claim them, Elaine, Guinevere, Lancelot, and Morgana accompany Arthur to take his throne in stifling Camelot, where magic is outlawed, the rules of society chain them, and enemies are everywhere. Yet the most dangerous threats may come from within their own circle.


As visions are fulfilled and an inevitable fate closes in, Elaine must decide how far she will go to change fate–and what she is willing to sacrifice along the way.


Review

5 stars because it made me cry

I am generally easily pleased with any King Arthur retelling. I grew up on Mary Stewart, Stephen Lawhead, TA Barron and Marian Zimmer Bradley. I loved all of those books. But one of the books that made the most impact on me was a book titled, “I am Morgan Le Fay”, which was all about our favorite sorceress from her POV. Think Marian Zimmer Bradley lite. So I was never more pleased than when Kiersten White wrote from Guinevere’s perspective, and when Tracy Deonn took a whole new take on the Arthurian myth. I love when things get mixed up. So obviously when I heard Laura Sebastian was taking on the Lady of Shallot I was so beyond excited. I love when myths take women and put them front and center.

Elaine was an amazing character, and I love the way Sebastian incorporated her into the myth with more agency. And I adored Morgana in this one. Actually, I liked all the characters to be honest. I got really invested in them despite knowing what happens in the end. You would think that by now I would be used to the fact that it would be a sad ending.

I cried my way through this book. It made me feel so many emotions and I could not contain them. Instead I had to hold the book and rock myself through the feelings. I didn’t quite succeed.

I will say there definitely was a queer overtone to the book which I liked. I just think there were a few slow parts in the book that were a bit of a struggle to get through, but didn’t drag the book down overmuch.

I love Sebastian’s writing style. She drew me in and kept me reading. It was so easy to read honestly. It was an enjoyment.

I gave it five stars because it made me feel all the emotions and cry. I need Sebastian to write more like this, because I enjoyed it SO much.

If you ever like MZB, you will probably like this book.

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Author: Jay Kristoff
Series: Empire of the Vampire
Series #: 1
Genre: fantasy, dark fantasy
Age Group: adult
ARC?: no

From holy cup comes holy light;

The faithful hands sets world aright.

And in the Seven Martyrs’ sight,

Mere man shall end this endless night.

It has been twenty-seven long years since the last sunrise. For nearly three decades, vampires have waged war against humanity; building their eternal empire even as they tear down our own. Now, only a few tiny sparks of light endure in a sea of darkness.

Gabriel de León is a silversaint: a member of a holy brotherhood dedicated to defending realm and church from the creatures of the night. But even the Silver Order couldn’t stem the tide once daylight failed us, and now, only Gabriel remains.

Imprisoned by the very monsters he vowed to destroy, the last silversaint is forced to tell his story. A story of legendary battles and forbidden love, of faith lost and friendships won, of the Wars of the Blood and the Forever King and the quest for humanity’s last remaining hope:

The Holy Grail.


Review

What does one rate this book? I honestly waffled between three and four stars. I knew what to expect going in based on early reviews, gory, bloody, violent, tons of profanity and vulgarity. None of that particularly bothers me (mostly because I skip if it gets really descriptive gory), but I know people thought it was excessive. Personally, I didn’t find it excessive. I rather think that was the point. Anyways, that isn’t the point of my review in any case. I wanted to talk about the things that I did and didn’t like about this book and whether or not I’m going to continue the series!

the good

-The World building.
I enjoyed the world building in this book. It was a little convoluted at first, but things were explained as we went along through the book.

-The Characters
I liked most of the characters. I found them annoying and intriguing in turns. I like how they all had different personalities, and I didn’t feel like they were replicated over and over, or copy and pasted characters. They were morally grey and treasonous. It’s best not to trust any of them.

-The Plot
The plot was good, and I liked how we went back and forth through time. I was honestly guessing about the status of characters throughout the book. I will say one part really made me sad, but I can’t say that I was surprised about it, because I had guessed it from the beginning on the book.

the not so good

-The Length
This was a monstrosity of a book. It was huge and long, and oh boy, that was not fun to get through. Very, very, long.

-The Pacing
I think it was because of the length, but the pacing wasn’t great. I would get bored at some parts and have to resist a desire to skip through. Not all of it was bad, just some of it was a bit frustrating and extraneous I felt.

Did it really need to be so long?

more thoughts

Really, the length of this book is intimidating, and this book does have a lot that happens, but mostly it feels like it is setting up for the next book in the series. Hopefully it will improve from this one. Will I read the next one?

Yes, yes I will. I might not read it right away however.

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Author: Stephanie Garber
Series: Once Upon a Broken Heart
Series #: 1
Genre: fantasy
Age Group: young adult
ARC?: no

Evangeline Fox was raised in her beloved father’s curiosity shop, where she grew up on legends about immortals, like the tragic Prince of Hearts. She knows his powers are mythic, his kiss is worth dying for, and that bargains with him rarely end well.
But when Evangeline learns that the love of her life is about to marry another, she becomes desperate enough to offer the Prince of Hearts whatever he wants in exchange for his help to stop the wedding. The prince only asks for three kisses. But after Evangeline’s first promised kiss, she learns that the Prince of Hearts wants far more from her than she’s pledged. And he has plans for Evangeline that will either end in the greatest happily ever after, or the most exquisite tragedy…


Review

Once Upon a Broken Heart takes place in the same world as Caraval. I enjoyed the series, but I was unsure if I was going to actively pick up OUABH. Thankfully for me, Fairyloot was including it in a subscription box and therefore I didn’t have to fuss with whether I wanted the book or not. (I’m glad I got it, because I did enjoy it immensely!)

This book can be read without having read Caraval. Characters that appear in Caraval do appear in this one, and events are mentioned, but honestly, it stands on its own well. This is nice because in some ways I liked this book more than the Caraval series. Why? Well, there are several reasons I liked this book more. I found the characters more fascinating, and there was a bunch of intrigue going on, which I always love when that is included in a book to do with royalty. I also found the characters more dynamic overall.

And nothing is ever as it seems with this book. I adore our main character, Evangeline. I love her personality and I love that she tries to see the best in everyone, and just…there was something magical about her. I adored her.

And oh, Jacks, you infuriated me in the best of ways. I wanted to strangle and slap you in equal measures. Like I said, I have many feels about Jacks. Jacks is one of those characters that is morally grey, so if you like that type of thing, you will LOVE him for that.

Plus, there’s the prince as well – and you can’t forget the stepsister either! (And a few Fates tossed in for fun as well) I mean…what could go wrong? (Everything.) One thing Garber always does really well is sibling relationships. I loved it just as much in this one as I loved it in the Caraval series.

My head was whirling through this entire book because the CAST WAS AMAZING. We have so many characters and not many answers. It was a guessing game, and I guessed wrong every time. (I’m apparently a terrible guesser)

Anyways, I did enjoy the book, and I can’t believe how long I have to wait for the next book to come out. I do not want to have to wait!

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