Blog Tour & Review: Junkyard Bargain by Faith Hunter

Stay tuned below for a review & excerpt of Junkyard Bargain by Faith Hunter!

Series: Junkyard Cats #2
Author: Faith Hunter
Narrator: Khristine Hvam
Publisher: Audible Original
Released: October 19, 2021 (ebook), February 25th, 2021 (audiobook)
Warnings: Kidnapping, assault, sexual assault, torture

Pardon me as I squee, but I’m so excited to have Junkyard Bargain in my hands! Junkyard Bargain is the second novella in Faith Hunter’s Junkyard Cats series. If you love post-apocalyptic stories and cats, you’re just going to love it.

Shining Smith is a survivor. She’s survived no less than three situations that would have killed the average human, and the odds are good that she’s going to go through worse before it is all said and done. Especially as she hunts down her enemies.

However, she’s not going to have much time to prepare for that battle. Not when her enemy holds one of her allies. So she’s on a timer to get things done, and that includes getting her hands on a powerful weapon. Naturally, that task is easier said than done.

“The Law as uncertain, vengeance wasn’t.”

I have been waiting for Junkyard Bargain from the instant I finished Junkyard Cats. Which means I have been waiting a little over a year to read this beauty. Was it worth it? A hundred times yes. Though now I find myself already eagerly awaiting news of the sequel. I’m sure that one will be worth the wait as well.

There’s so much to love about Junkyard Bargain, and the series in general. As a cat lover, I especially adore the inclusion of Shining’s dangerous Feline’s. Their personalities (and abilities) take the whole setting to a new level. Then again, I’m a crazy cat lady, so I am probably being a bit biased here. Oh well.

Naturally, Shining herself is another big reason to love this series. She’s been through a lot of trauma, and has become the epitome of ‘what does not kill me makes me stronger.’ It’s going to be interesting to see where her story goes from here, especially where her allies are concerned (I’m trying to hard to be vague here, to avoid spoilers).

This dystopian future is a dark one, and in many ways it feels like the sort of world that only Faith Hunter can dream up. I love seeing her tackle more of a science fiction take, though she still captures human nature in horrifying detail.

Long story short – once again I have fallen in love with a world and story created by Faith Hunter. I can’t wait to read what happens next, but unfortunately I am going to have to practice at being patient.

Thanks to Let’s Talk Promotions (LTP) for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Book Tag! Astrological Book Tag

Unsurprisingly, I hoped back online to hunt for fun looking Book Tags (there are so many fun ones out there!) and I found one called Astrological Book Tag. Created by Peace-Love-Veggies, this slightly longer book tag is out of this world (pun intended – sorry!).

Name a Book You’ve Read that was Full of Fire, Desire, and Passion.

Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews

In case it wasn’t painfully obvious – I adore everything and anything written by Ilona Andrews. That includes the Hidden Legacy series. Frankly, it’s absolutely my favorite paranormal romance series out there. The characters are so full of personality and passion, plus the plot is highly entertaining!

Name a Book You’ve Read that was Beautifully Written.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

Oh my goodness, everything I think about The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, I swoon. I swear, this book just gets me. It’s a powerful and evocative read, one that has so many messages to cherish. Plus! There are so many fantastic quotes from this book.

Name a Book You’ve Read that Featured Twins.

Impostors by Scott Westerfeld

Impostors is the first in a new series by Scott Westerfeld. Though the whole series is actually a spin-off from his famous Uglies series (love it so much). Frey and Rafi are twins, both genetically designed by their father to be exactly what he needed. In Rafi’s case, she was designed to be the perfect heir. But Frey? She’s the decoy – the bodyguard designed to die for her sister’s sake.

Name a Book You Read that was a Real Tear-Jerker.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Okay, to be fair – it really does not take much to get me crying. If you kill an animal in your books, I’m going to cry. End of story. Lots of other subjects and plots get me crying too, so I had a lot of trouble picking just one book as an example. But The Perks of Being a Wallflower was one of the first to come to mind, so that is what I’m sticking with.

Name a Book You’ve Read that Featured Courageous Characters.

Redwall by Brian Jacques

Given how old the series is, this may seem like a bit of a random pull. However, Redwall was on my mind recently, and thus this felt like the natural answer to this question. All of the characters in this series are so brave, starting from the very first book. Thinking back – I’m not even sure I finished the series, I might have missed a few here and there. I hope not.

Name a Book You’ve Read that was Pure Perfection.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

The idea of perfection is fairly subjective, so I really struggled with an answer to this one. Ultimately, I had to ask myself what book I would love, regardless of how much time has passed. Pride and Prejudice has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid, and I don’t see that ever changing.

Name a Book You’ve Read that was Neither Good Nor Bad.

The Mother Next Door by Tara Laskowski

Ohhh. Now this is a tough one! For me I feel like a lot of thrillers run the risk of falling under this label – they’re not bad, but I probably won’t be able to tell you the details a year or two later. So I just pulled the most recent thriller I read, in an attempt to be fair. To be clear – I adore thrillers, the problem is that you have to read a lot of ‘okay’ thrillers to find those shining and memorable pieces.

Name a Book You’ve Read that was Dark and Mysterious.

Gideon the Ninth (The Ninth House #1) by Tamsyn Muir

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

If you haven’t read Gideon the Ninth yet, then you must run out and do so post haste. This is one of my favorite darker reads – it’s fantastic in both written and audiobook form, so it doesn’t matter what your preference is. Also, I adore Gideon’s sassy nature.

Name a Book You’ve Read that was Full of Adventure.

Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson really knows how to build a fantastic world full of dynamic characters – and so much adventure. I was immediately taken away by the world and plot of Mistborn, so this was the first book to come to mind for me. Best of all, there are several books in this series, so it’ll keep you busy for a while.

Name a Book You’ve Read that Made You Think.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women is one of those books that has always made me stop and think. It has a way of speaking to my soul, and I adore it. I also love this little fun fact: you can tell what version of the novel people read, based on their opinions of the ending. Later copies had both Little Women and the sequel bundled together, which obviously changes the conclusion in a sense.

Name a Book You’ve Read that was Really Quirky.

Lightborne (The Bexley Chronicles #1) by Brini Quinn

Lightborne by Brindi Quinn

If you’re looking for a quirky book with an even quirkier protagonist, then look no further! Lightborne is such an enchanting and refreshing read, thanks heavily to how different the main character is. Bexley Lightborne is a unique character, while also being so energetic and fun. I’ll confess that it’s a favorite of mine, because it always works to cheer me up when I need it most.

Name a Book You’ve Read that was Very Imaginative.

The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman

This one made me stop. All books are imaginative, when you think of it. But admittedly there are some that get more credit than others, and with good reason. At first I started thinking of the books with the wildest world-building. Then I thought about my more recent reads, and one stuck out to me. The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman is the long-awaited sequel to Practical Magic. I can’t even begin to imagine how tough it would be to write a conclusion to this series, especially as there’s already a movie version that does just that. Yet the conclusion does justice to the world and characters, and is so very different from the cinematic take. I loved that (while still adoring the movie, to be clear).

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Blog Tour & Review: The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker

Series: The Keeper of Night #1
Author: Kylie Lee Baker
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Released: October 12, 2021
Received: NetGalley
Warnings: Ableism, racism, cannibalism (mentioned), drowning, bullying

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Have you heard of The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker? From the moment I saw that cover, I knew it was a book I needed to make time for. Spoiler – it’s worth it!

Ren Scarborough is half Japanese Shinigami and half British Reaper. Yes, it is exactly as complicated as it sounds, if not more so. It’s her job to wander the streets of London and collect the souls of the dead.

Unfortunately, Ren is despised by her fellow Reapers. Perhaps this is the reason why she was so willing to take a risk, as Ren is about to enter the underworld and serve the Goddess of Death.

“The world will fall silent and the Reaper will knock three times on your bedroom door.”

Oh my goodness! The Keeper of Night is every bit the striking and intense read I had hoped it would be. Ren’s journey is a powerful one, with plenty of highs and lows to keep readers interested. Okay, her very nature is enough to keep readers interested – everything else is just icing on the cake as far as I’m concerned.

Also, the vibes of The Keeper of Night are pretty brilliant, if I may say so. Kylie Lee Baker’s world and writing immediately pull the reader in, and it quickly becomes impossible not to root for Ren. No matter where you look, the odds are stacked against her. And yet, she keeps going. Gotta love it.

It’s probably worth mentioning that there are some more graphic elements to this tale – but I’m sure many people expect that. We’re talking about death in multiple forms, not to mention the inclusion of yōkai. It’s enough to keep most readers up at night!

I still can’t get over how much I love the core concept of this novel: a woman with mixed heritage, with both sides of her family dealing with death. It’s fascinating, and I already am counting down days for the sequel.

Thanks to Inkyard Press and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Review: The Widow Queen by Elzbieta Cherezinska

Author: Elzbieta Cherezinska
Translator: Maya Zakrzewska-Pim
Publisher: Tor/Forge Books
Released: April 6th, 2021
Received: NetGalley

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If you are a fan of epic historical fantasy, then The Widow Queen, written by Elżbieta Cherezińska, is a novel that will be worth your time. However, I do want to take a minute to thank Maya Zakrzewska-Pim for translating this novel. Without that, I never would have been able to read it!

Swietoslawa was never content to follow her father’s orders. She doesn’t want to go down the same path as her sisters. She didn’t want a husband – she wanted a throne and crown of her own. She wanted to be more than a pawn; she wanted the right to rule on her own.

A right she’s willing to fight for. Unfortunately, Swietoslawa is about to learn the meaning of a double-edged sword. As she is about to gain her wish…and all of the challenges that come with it. Set in Poland, 984, this is a thrilling tale of politics, determination, and the battle for power.

“Whatever awaited her this Koliada, she wasn’t going to be a lamb led to slaughter.”

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from reading The Widow Queen, I really need to read more translated novels. Because this book? It’s amazing. The Widow Queen is compelling, emotional, and dramatic all in one.

This novel is perfect for those out there that love historical fiction. Heck, even if history and historical fiction isn’t really your thing (guilty – most of the time), you’ll have no trouble following along. Or appreciating the messages woven into Cherezińska’s work.

The Widow Queen is a rich and detailed read. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the page count – over five hundred pages of details, descriptions, and character development! I was thrilled.

I can tell you with complete honesty that I have never read a book quite like The Widow Queen. It’s so refreshing to see and say that. Clearly, I need to continue branching out, because this was a delightful experience.

Thanks to Tor/Forge and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Realm Review – Thor: Metal Gods Episode 11

Valor Knows No Bounds in Thor: Metal Gods Episode 11

Thor: Metal Gods Episode 11 continues Thor’s epic and musically inclined quest. Thor Odinson has faced many challenges, but perhaps none quite like this. The past has caught up to him and his brother, and it is making them both pay for their actions.

Last we saw, Thor and his allies were battling their enemy’s seemingly endless forces. A fact which required aid from even more famous Marvel characters. As with any battle, however, there is always a cost and toll to be taken.

Thor: Metal Gods is the first Marvel series to launch on Serial Box (now called Realm). This is a relatively new platform with a different take on media. Each week Thor: Metal Gods drops a new episode, both in written and audiobook format.

Teaching An Old Dog New Tricks

Thor: Metal Gods Episode 11, written by Brian Keene, is a shockingly emotional episode. It’s a poignant reminder that there is much loss during a battle. It’s refreshing to see these moments covered rather than merely glossed over. It makes the characters feel more human and alive than ever, which may be a bit ironic, given the implications and heavier tones of scenes such as these.

This is an episode that felt brutal and raw. And yet…there’s more to it than that. This episode is actually quite complex, as it wraps up one series of events and begins another. There are multiple threads picked up and placed down in this one segment alone.

Many of those threads are going to become vital in the following episodes; I just know it. However, I’m not sure if I’m excited or dreading how all of that is actually going to play out. As with any classic yet epic story, things are likely going to get worse before they get better.

Thor: Metal Gods Episode 11 is told through multiple perspectives. The jumps are quick and without warning. Yet without them, it would not be possible to show the readers everything that is going on. We certainly wouldn’t have this strong sense of foreshadowing. It also had a nice side effect of increasing the pacing even further.

Narration

Thor: Metal Gods Episode 11 was narrated by Daniel Gillies. He’s been the narrator this whole time, and I, for one, am very grateful for the consistency. Gillies is an actor as well as a narrator, and it really shows here.

Why do I say that? The level of emotion in his voice is inescapable. The characters he voices all have so much nuance, each being distinct from one another. And each being fully capable of expressing what they’re feeling through his voice.

Anybody that actively listens to audiobooks likely knows exactly what I mean by that. And likewise, they know how important this trait is. I’m bringing it up now because this episode, in particular, really pulled out the raw edges of many characters and had to be brought to life by Gillies here.

Conclusion

Thor: Metal Gods Episode 11 brought with it a series of surprises and twists. It’s all set up for the dramatic (presumably) conclusion of this series, which sadly is only four episodes away. One thing is certain; I’m really looking forward to seeing how it will all conclude.

Also, the longer this season goes on, the more curious I’m becoming about the possibility of a season 2. And let’s not forget the fact that other Marvel series will be hitting Serial Box soon as well! Black Widow, last I heard, was slated to drop in Spring.

This review was originally written for Word of the Nerd, but has been ported over to Quirky Cat’s Fat Stacks now that the site has shut down.

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Review: When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain

Author: Paula McLain
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Released: April 13th, 2021
Received: Own (BOTM)
Warnings: Child death, kidnapping, rape, assault, child abuse

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Paula McLain’s latest novel, When the Stars Go Dark, is a brilliant new thriller, one that forces characters and readers alike to confront the different ways a person can process their grief.

Anna Hart is great at her job. She’s also obsessed with it. Then again, if you were working to find missing people – children – you’d have trouble leaving the job behind when your shift ends. That’s the way it is for Anna.

When tragedy strikes, Anna is forced to take some time away. Try to get her mind and her life back in order. However, even on vacation, she feels the tug of the missing children who need her. Now, a local teenage girl has gone missing, and it’s starting to feel like Anna is the only one with the expertise or drive to bring this girl home.

“Not every kid lands on the milk carton. Some just vanish.”

Wow. When you sit down to read When the Stars Go Dark, be prepared to be blown away. Prepare to get hit in the feels while you’re at it. Anna’s story is so powerful and emotional, and it doubles in scale as she hunts to get to the heart of this case.

Before I fully dive into this review, I should probably mention that there are some serious warnings that go along with this book. There’s child death, kidnapping, rape, assault, stalking, animal injury, and child abuse. Not to mention grief and many other harder to quickly describe themes that come up over the course of When the Stars Go Dark.

“I’ve always felt a need to help people. It gets to be too much, though, particularly when they’re in real trouble and you don’t know if you can make a difference no matter how hard you try.”

When the Stars Go Dark is a book that I was instantly captivated by. I first spotted the cover when browsing add-ons for BOTM, and I just knew that I had to read it. Upon actually picking it up to read, I found that it was not a book that I could put down. Nope, this is one of those beauties that insists on being read in one sitting.

This is a powerful story, both internally and externally. On the outside, Anna is putting everything she has into helping solve this case (which isn’t her case to solve, mind you). Internally, she’s struggling to find a way to process a very personal tragedy in her life. There are times when it feels like she’s shunting all of that pain to the side. But in a way, that is part of the grieving process.

What I’m trying to say is that Anna’s pain felt so sharp and so real. It brought the whole story home, while also addressing several vital subjects. The number of missing children in real life is concerning and noteworthy. It’s a conversation that should be had, along with many other facets that come up over the course of this book (I don’t want to spoil all of those, so forgive my vague comment here).

Long story short: When the Stars Go Dark is a captivating and heartbreaking novel. It forces readers to view all of the characters as human beings, and then it takes us through the grieving process alongside them.

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Review: The Library of the Dead by T.L. Huchu

Series: Edinburgh Nights #1
Author: T.L. Huchu
Publisher: Tor Books
Received: NetGalley

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T.L. Huchu’s latest novel, The Library of the Dead, is marketed as a combination of Stranger Things and the Sixth Sense. Combine that with the name (I’m pretty sure I will read any fantasy novel that hints at libraries or books), the cover, and the color choices I’ve seen so far, and I never had any doubt about this book.

Ropa is a ghostalker, capable of speaking to the dead of Edinburgh and sharing their words with the living they left behind. She chose this life with open eyes, leaving school to do what felt right at the time.

Now, Ropa is going to have to investigate a missing child, using all of the talents her parents gave her in order to stand any chance of saving the day. Still, she can’t turn away. Not when the ghosts have warned her that someone – or something – is bewitching local children.

“Curiosity’s killed cats, but they never mentioned kids.”

The Library of the Dead is a fun and fast read. This is the first novel in the Edinburgh Nights series, and I already can’t wait to see where it goes next. Okay, I’ll admit that Ropa’s unique personality has helped to sell me on the matter. That and the whole ghostalker concept.

Speaking of, I kind of adore that name. Ghostalker. I know it is pronounced “ghost-talker,” but my brain so desperately wants it to be “ghost-stalker.” I don’t know why, but it defiantly upped my enjoyment of the title, so I’m not going to complain.

Ropa is quick-witted, sassy, a badass heroine in the making, as well as being pretty darn stubborn. Then again, I guess if you quit school in order to talk to ghosts, you’d have to be pretty stubborn.

The world-building is so expansive that it’s easy to picture this alternate version of Edinburgh – with ghosts, monsters, and the child-bespeller that I refuse to spoil. It made for a rich backdrop for Ropa’s story, and I can’t wait to read more.

Thanks to Tor and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Review: The Shadow Threat (House Of El #1)

Author: Claudia Gray
Artist: Eric Zawadski
Series: House of El #1
Publisher: DC Comics
Released: January 5th, 2020
Received: NetGalley

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I received a copy of The Shadow Threat in exchange for a fair and honest review.

The Shadow Threat (House of El #1) is the tale of Krypton, before everything went so horribly wrong. Written by Claudia Gray (the detail that caught my attention to begin with) and illustrated by Eric Zawadski, this is a fascinating tale that shows a darker side of Krypton.

Zahn is one of the elites on Krypton. He was born into wealth, power, and privilege, and only recently has he realized just how much farther ahead that has brought him in life. How many times it has saved his life, or changed it for the better. Perhaps that is the reason why he’s intent to join a rebellion.

Sera was born and bred to be one of Krypton’s soldiers – literally. It’s her job to protect the people, and to take on all of the risky missions specifically designed for the soldiers. She’s one of the best at her job, despite all of the constraints.

You’d think that these two would never meet, but you’d be wrong. Their paths are about to collide in the events of The Shadow Threat, as both struggle to come to terms with all of the signs they’ve been seeing.

I’m going to be honest with you here, I really wasn’t sure what to expect from The Shadow Threat. While I do read a lot of comics, I’m arguably the weakest when it comes to Superman knowledge. That being said, I just knew that I had to give it a try when I saw Claudia Gray’s name on the project.

I’m actually pretty happy that I took a chance and gave it a go. Though I’m certain my experience will be drastically different from somebody who knows everything about Superman and his home planet.

The art style felt almost Atlantean at times, yet it actually worked quite nicely for Krypton and all of the advancements it has available. I adored the color palette, and for the most part, liked the character designs as well.

The differing plots revolving around Zahn and Sera were fascinating. Both had such strong personalities, and plenty of reason to be questioning the status quo (even if it is truly the last thing they wanted to be doing).

It raised a lot of questions along the way, and I for one am actually really looking forward to seeing what happens in the next installment of the series. That may be my lack of knowledge speaking there, I’m not certain. I’m not worried though, as it will be a fun read regardless.

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Review: The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Cordova

Author: Zoraida Cordova
Publisher: Atria Books
Released: September 7, 2021
Received: Own (BOTM)
Warnings: Death, family death, stalking, adultery, animal death

As a massive fan of Zoraida Cordova, I’ve been excitedly looking forward to the release of The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina. Not only do I love her writing, but this latest novel sounded like it would be right up my alley. Think Practical Magic, but with an Ecuadorian twist.

Orquídea Divina is the matriarch of the Montoya clan. Her family is not small, but they also have shared more than their fair share of tragedy over the year. Her multiple late husbands are indicative of that fact.

Now Orquídea herself is preparing to move on, and thus is summoning her children and grandchildren from all over the country for one last meeting. But in the typical Orquídea way, she’s about to leave them with more questions than answers.

“Orquídea didn’t like it because she knew she wasn’t a flower, delicate and pretty and waiting to be plucked. For what? To be smelled? To sit in a glass of water until she withered? She was more than that. She wanted to be rooted so deep into the earth that nothing, no human, no force of nature, save an act of the heavens themselves, could rip her out.”

Oh my goodness. I went into The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina knowing that I would love it, but even so, I was still blown away by what I found within. This novel is blindingly brilliant, showcasing family trauma, curses, and magic all in one beautiful go.

In short – I absolutely loved this book. I cannot recommend it enough to all of my reader friends, especially if they enjoy magical realism, paranormal horror, and family drama, as this book has all three in spades.

Earlier I compared this book to Practical Magic, and while the tones are similar, I want to clarify: The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina is a book unlike any other. While it may have similar tones, it is very much a creature of Zoraida Cordova’s making, and I fell in love with each and every detail.

I’ll admit that I was a bit surprised by the leading perspective, mostly because I naively assumed that it would be Orquídea Divina (given the implication in the title, I don’t know why I made that stupid assumption).

It didn’t take me long to get invested in our protagonist and her perspective. Actually, I’m so invested in this family that I’m now not-so-secretly hoping we’ll get a sequel in the future. That would be lovely.

Once again, I find myself enchanted by Zoraida Cordova’s writing. Her worlds have a way of coming to life, bursting from the pages and leaving me wanting more. I know without a doubt that I will happily read anything she writes.

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Blog Tour & Review: Lies My Memory Told Me by Sacha Wunsch

Author: Sacha Wunsch
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Released: October 19th, 2021
Received: NetGalley
Warnings: Memory loss

3 kitties

Are you in the mood for a new psychological thriller? I know I have been looking for a good one recently, which led me to Lies My Memory Told Me, written by Sacha Wunsch.

Every day new technologies arrive and change the world as we know it. The latest change came from Enhanced Memory, where people can share their memories with one another. It has allowed for an unprecedented level of sharing and exploration.

Yet, it comes at a cost. At first, Nova was willing to overlook the costs of her parent’s invention, but once Kade opened her eyes, she couldn’t stop seeing the warning signs. Now she’s struggling to find the truth and can’t help but feel like she’s forgetting something important…

As I mentioned earlier, Lies My Memory Told Me is an ideal book for scratching that craving for a psychological thriller. It didn’t end up as dark as I expected – surprising, given the hints of memory and loss.

However, it did keep me occupied the whole way through, so I can hardly complain about that! In fact, it was almost refreshing. Lies My Memory Told Me dealt with some unique, fascinating, and complex concepts. Yet, it does so in reasonably approachable ways.

I think that more backstory on Kade and Nova could have been helpful, as I never really felt a genuine connection to their characters. Though maybe that was just the mood I was in? Sometimes it can be difficult to tell.

On the bright side, the second half of the novel made up for that lack of connection tenfold. There’s so much going on, and it was more than enough to keep my brain busy, especially as new ideas got added into the mix!

Thanks to Inkyard and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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