Review: Remember, Remember by Anna Elliott

rememberrememberRemember, Remember by Anna Elliot

My Rating: 3.5/5 TARDISes

Series: Sherlock Holmes and Lucy James Mysteries

Date Published: April 21st, 2017

Publisher: Wilton Press

Pages: 357 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: A lovely American actress awakens in London on a cold morning in 1897 – lying face down on the concrete pavement outside the British Museum. She has no memories. She does not even know who she is, although she has a vague recollection of the name Sherlock Holmes. What she believes is that she has may have just killed someone, and that someone is definitely trying to kill her. As she searches for clues to her true identity, she will learn that she is not the only target. Unless she can defeat her evil adversaries, the people most dear to her will die.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

I’ll admit I went into this book a little bit hesitant. It’s no secret that I love retellings or novels that use classic characters in modern day literature—these are some of my favorite types of novels. However, the hesitation I experience comes from my love of the original stories and characters themselves. I’m always a stickler when it comes to keeping true to the most essential and definitive aspects, even while the author is forming his or her own unique story. And I am especially picky when it comes to my all-time favorites. This particular novel, I’m pleased to say, does a reasonably good job paying homage to the incredibly well-loved characters from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s timeless tales of the great Sherlock Holmes.

In this novel, we read from the perspective of the main character, Lucy James, a young woman who wakes up on the steps of the British Museum with amnesia. Once woken up, she realizes she has lost all of her memories, including her name. All she knows is that she was hit in the head and that someone is most likely out to kill her—and that she may in fact be a killer herself. This, along with the vague recollection of the name Sherlock Holmes, is all she has to go on as she attempts to remember who she is, where she’s from, and why she is running for her life. Her enemies are ruthless and willing to take down anyone who gets in their way. Navigating dangerous circumstances and forging new alliances, Lucy takes on her adversaries and works to prevent them from carrying out their nefarious scheme.

Despite my original wariness, I ended up enjoying this story quite a bit. I found the plot to be fast-paced and easy to get wrapped up in right from page one. Though this is actually the third book in the Sherlock Holmes and Lucy James Mysteries series, it functions extremely well as a standalone. The overall mystery of the story is not completely unpredictable or surprising, but it still made for a very fun and action-packed read.

The portrayal of the various characters, overall, is fairly well done, but also the area from which the majority of my issues with the novel stem. The characters that were original creations of Anna Elliot were by far the strongest. Lucy is a great protagonist—she is a strong, highly intelligent, and independent heroine. The only major issue with her characterization is that there isn’t much development over the course of the story or depiction of flaws. One of the reasons a character such as Sherlock Holmes is so interesting is the mixture of his tremendous intellect and cleverness with flaws that make him human. While Lucy is a likeable character that is still easy to connect with, she seems just a bit too perfect at times.

As for Elliot’s versions of Holmes and Watson, I had somewhat mixed feelings. While her portrayal of Watson, in my opinion, is quite accurate, I felt a little bit lukewarm about her portrayal of Holmes. We don’t really get to see all that much of him, and even though there are certain times that truly reflect the classic great detective, there are some moments and plot points that I felt strayed a little too far. Though it was a little hard for me to imagine at first, I believe she did a decent job of gauging the way Holmes would treat a daughter had he had one in the original stories. However, there were times—such as his offering Lucy dating advice—that just didn’t feel authentic.

I had one odd problem with one of the character’s names. I was reading from an advanced review copy, so this is probably the cause of my confusion, but I could not figure out Lucy’s love interest’s first name. It kept jumping back and forth between John and Jack every few pages, sometimes even within the same page. Again, I assume this was caused by the uncorrected proof, and it has absolutely no bearing on my rating of the novel. However, I’m still not certain what his name actually was meant to be.

Elliot’s writing style is solid and easy to become absorbed in. She gives Lucy a strong narrative voice, which caused the plot to both flow well and pack a punch. Her world building of 1897 London is vivid and skilled, making it a very high point of the novel. She unravels the mystery at a steady pace, showing her talent for creating a storyline that hooks her readers and keeps them wanting more.

In the first part of the novel, Elliot does a great job of presenting Lucy’s slow gathering of clues pertaining to her life. The transition between the two halves of the novel—where Lucy suddenly regains her memories—is a bit rough. We are thrown rather quickly into her rapid and high-stakes lifestyle. However, this still does not hurt the plot progression overall, and though it was a little bumpy, I found myself falling into this new twist fairly easily. In general, Elliot keeps the plot as a whole straightforward enough to follow, and just unpredictable enough to create a exciting mystery.

Overall, I found this novel to be a pretty enjoyable and fast-paced read that was quite easy to become swept up in. This wound up being a very fun story, and an inventive take on some very timeless classics. While I would have liked to see a bit more development in Lucy and the various other significant characters in the novel, they were still portrayed well in general. Despite its few flaws, this is a good addition to the ever-expanding world of Sherlock Holmes novels. I am definitely planning to go back and read the first two novels of this series, and will eagerly await and further installments.

3.5 TARDISes

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Review: Dead Over Heels by Theresa Braun

deadoverheelsDead Over Heels by Theresa Braun

My Rating: 4.5/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: November 16th, 2016

Publisher: Frith Books

Pages: 38 pages

Source: Author

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis: Veronica’s first date with Sebastian not only stirs up a powerful attraction, but also a series of supernatural events that will tear them apart.

After countless hours of dead end online dating, Veronica meets up with Sebastian at a reportedly haunted restaurant, since he knows she has a fascination with the paranormal. While enjoying their meals and each other’s company, they share a shocking supernatural experience. Their romantic connection is overshadowed by the ghosts of their own pasts that threaten to destroy their budding relationship. Veronica decides she must return to the restaurant to face her past and dig up more answers. Unfortunately, she realizes she must go back, this time with a reluctant Sebastian. In the end, they join forces against the evil that stands between them, but will they make it out alive?

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*I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

I really enjoyed reading this story. It is a creative, inventive, and truly captivating tale that pulled me in from page one and took me completely by surprise. This is one of those stories that keeps you wanting more—the sort that will make you voraciously tear through it, and really packs a punch.

Despite the fact that it is short in length, the plot and its characters are completely fleshed out and multidimensional. This is a story that will stick with you long after reaching the end. From the mysterious situation that the two main characters find themselves in all the way until the shocking conclusion, Braun hooks her readers and fluidly pulls them into every page.

In this story, we follow our main character, Veronica, as she finds true love under the most peculiar of circumstances. After an unexpectedly deep connection occurs between her and her new beau, Sebastian, they soon learn just how unbelievably deep it actually goes. The two share very many similarities, the main one being their painful pasts—each one has lost a parent at a young age. But just as quickly as their relationship blooms, they are forced to quite literally face the ghosts of their pasts and relive a true nightmare. And when their individual histories play out before them, their love is put to the test as renewed pain threatens to break them apart.

There is so much packed into such a short amount of time, and Braun expertly unfolds a compelling and detailed plot within the length limitations. It is fast-paced and exciting, full of twists and turns, and without a single dull moment. Her writing style flows well and is easy to get swept up in.

This was unlike any story I’ve read before, and I applaud Braun on her originality in creating such an intriguing supernatural mystery. Her characters are relatable and likeable right from the beginning, and the full arc of their relationship ends in a shocking and unexpected conclusion. Filled with romance and humor, darkness and tragedy, this novella will keep readers on the edges of their seats and craving more, even after the final page.

4.5 TARDISes

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Top 5 Wednesday – September 27th, 2017

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Top 5 Wednesday was created by Lainey at Gingerreadslainey and is now hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. Every week, book reviewers all over the world are given a bookish topic and respond with their top 5 books (or elements of books) that relate to that topic. Click here for the Goodreads group if you would like to learn more about Top 5 Wednesday and join in!

This week’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is the top five books you’ve picked up because you’ve heard of them in the online book community. Though I stayed somewhat on top of popular releases before blogging, my knowledge (and my purchasing of books!) has increased a great deal since joining the book blogging community. I have found so many incredible novels through various sources like Booktube and my fellow book blogging friends, so this was a tough list to narrow down. However, I think I’ve finally picked out the books that have impacted me the most since joining this wonderful community! 🙂

5. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

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This is one of my most recent discoveries due to the book blogging community, and this trilogy has quickly risen to the top of my favorites list. I can’t recall specifically where I saw this novel for the first time, but I read numerous reviews from many of the blogs I follow and was immediately convinced to pick it up. This book, as well as its sequel, are beautifully written, somewhat dark modern fairytales and I absolutely adore them!

Click here to check out my full review!

4. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

cinder

I discovered this book—and the rest of the series—through Booktube. I am a complete sucker for unique retellings, and this promised to be one. Every channel I watched had incredibly positive reviews of the whole Lunar Chronicles series, though it was Catriona from Little Book Owl who first brought Cinder to my attention. I’m still in the process of finishing up the series, but it is already high on my favorites list.

Click here to check out my full review!

3. Alice by Christina Henry

alice

This novel was recommended to me by my good friend and fellow blogger, Heather, from The Sassy Book Geek. We have an extremely similar taste in books, and both particularly love dark retellings such as this one. I have never once been disappointed by any of her recommendations, and I have her to thank for bringing this amazing novel and its author into my life.

Click here to check out Heather’s full review!

2. Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

wolfbywolf

I’m fairly certain that I first discovered this novel through the blogging community, but I also saw it everywhere in the Booktube community as well. Again, all the reviewers I found constantly raved about this book and, being a fan of World War II historical fiction as well as science fiction, I knew I had to give it a read. I read this in a buddy read with my good friend and fellow blogger, Anna from My Bookish Dream, and it was fantastic!

Click here to check out my full review and click here to check out Anna’s full review!

1. Vicious by V.E. Schwab

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I first discovered Vicious—as well as Victoria Schwab in general—through Booktube and continued to see it pop up all over the blogging community. Every review I saw or read raved about how amazing this novel and Schawb’s writing were, so I knew I had to give it a try. I ended up reading it for the first time with my friend and fellow blogger, Heather from The Sassy Book Geek, and absolutely adored it!

Click here to check out my full review and click here to check out Heather’s full review!

What books have you guys discovered since joining the online book community and where did you discover them? Let me know in the comments!

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Mini Review: Pillow Thoughts by Courtney Peppernell

pillowthoughtsPillow Thoughts by Courtney Peppernell

My Rating: 5/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: August 29th, 2017

Publisher: Andrew McMeel Publishing

Pages: 272 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Make a cup of tea and let yourself feel.

Pillow Thoughts is a collection of poetry and prose about heartbreak, love, and raw emotions. It is divided into sections to read when you feel you need them most.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

Simply put, I found this collection to be absolutely beautiful. Each poem was thoughtful and moving and an absolute joy to read. It touched my life at a time when I needed it most, so I could not help falling in love with Pillow Thoughts. Peppernell’s writing flows perfectly, and her poetry paints a stunning picture of life’s ups and downs. She eloquently coveys every poem—breathes life into them—and gives them a great amount of depth. These poems are the sort that readers can truly connect with, and each person’s interpretation will be different. They reach into every corner of our hearts and remind us that it is okay for us to feel—gives us a raw and vivid portrayal of what it is to be human.

This is a collection that I believe most people will be able to connect with and find meaning in. Every piece is straightforward yet incredibly profound—very accessible for anyone, no matter who they are or where they are in life. I found comfort in these words as they told me that I am not alone, even when I’m feeling lonely in the midst of my troubles. These poems transcend their own simplicity to create a meaningful depiction of the most basic and universal experiences we face in our lives. The reader will find their own unique meaning depending on their personal lives, and take away what their soul is craving at that moment. I look forward to reading more of Peppernell’s work in the future.

5.0 TARDISes

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Mini Review: Everything Reminds You of Something Else by Elana Wolff

everythingremindsyouofsomethingelseEverything Reminds You of Something Else by Elana Wolff

My Rating: 2/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: April 2017

Publisher: Guernica Editions

Pages: 90 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Thin is the line between dreaming and wakefulness, wellness and disorder, here and there, this and that. Elana Wolff’s poems illuminate the porousness of states and relations, the connective compulsion of poetic perception, in language that blends the oracular and the everyday, the elliptical and the lucent, the playful and the heart-raking. The de- and re-constructive workings of the poems in Everything Reminds You of Something Else argue for empathy and attentiveness. At the core of this work is the belief that art is the sanest rage.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

Poetry is incredibly hard to critique because each individual reader’s experience is unique. Everyone gets something different out of it, and a style that might work for one reader might not work for another. This is one of those collections that I believe really backs these things up. Wolff’s writing is very beautiful and I’m sure, for that reason, there are many people who would enjoy her work. Her unique view of the world shines through in the way she interprets and records small snapshots of life. Her imaginative and whimsical style is juxtaposed against her use of more serious topics and issues. However, for me, this particular collection fell a bit flat and did not affect me in the way I think it was meant to.

To be completely honest, I did not understand many of the poems in this particular collection. What would normally be an extremely quick read took me much longer than anticipated, since I was attempting to decipher some sort of meaning in each obscure poem. There were only a handful that I understood, and the rest felt very choppy and disjointed. I spent most of my reading experience feeling very confused and searching for so much more than I was able to find. I love diving into and interpreting complex poetry, but this style of writing did not click with me, making it just a bit too difficult to understand. Though Wolff’s writing is clearly skilled and her style may work for some readers, I was unfortunately not one.

2.0 TARDISes

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Review: The Timekeepers by Jenn Bregman

thetimekeepersThe Timekeepers by Jenn Bregman

My Rating: 1/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: May 4th, 2017

Publisher: Triborough Publishing

Pages: 334 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis: A fast-paced thriller, The TimeKeepers plunges headlong into the depraved underbelly of Big Law and big money where greed is king, murder is incidental, and winning is the only thing that matters.

Attorney Sarah Brockman is young, idealistic, and naïve. Having left Big Law in search of work that would make a difference, she finds herself barely scraping by running her own personal injury law firm working for clients who can’t pay and pursuing causes she can’t win. Then a random horrific car crash shatters everything. Now she’s staring into the darkest shadows of the very system she’s dedicated her life to upholding, filled with corrupt judges, dirty cops and attorneys, offshore banking, massive fraud, and twists and turns through the highways and byways of Southern California, Mexico and the Cook Islands.  

Facing off against a cunning and deranged adversary, Sarah is aided by a sharp-witted socialite, a felon and occasional crackhead, and a shameless Mexican raconteur. All while kindling a tender romance with Sam, her boyishly handsome new love, who has been following the same trail but from the other end – and the wrong side of the law.

Sarah feels invisible strings pulling her ever closer to the core of the conspiracy. But if she’s just a pawn in someone else’s game, are the strings being pulled for good or for bad? Or, even, both? And will she be on the side that wins?

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

This novel is a bit out of my normal reading comfort zone. However, I always love giving any book from any genre a try—and from the synopsis, The Timekeepers sounded like an interesting, high-stakes mystery. Unfortunately, what I ended up with was a slow-paced, confusing story, one-dimensional characters, and no mystery.

There was absolutely no suspense in the plot due to the style of narration that Bregman chose for it, and there were very few riveting plot points to grip readers. Throughout my experience with this novel, I never found myself eager to turn the next page. And rather than the book motivating me to read it, I had to motivate myself every time I picked it up.

A book that could have been fast-paced and exciting is bogged down by repetitive narration and an extensive amount of scenes that solely contain descriptions of the various workings of Big Law. It’s not that I minded learning the details about law or what goes on behind-the-scenes at law firms—it was specifically that topic which caused me to want to read this novel. But instead of mixing definitions and facts fluidly with a heart-pounding and interesting plot, the plot fell flat and facts overtook almost every aspect of the novel.

In this novel, according to the synopsis, we follow a young attorney named Sarah Brockman, who is struggling to run her own law firm specializing in personal injury cases. One day, her life changes when she begins dealing with the case of a man who has been hit by a car. This seemingly common personal injury case inadvertently throws Sarah into a world she is not prepared for—a secret side of law, where the dealings are quite suspicious and spell danger for all involved. All of a sudden, she finds herself mixed up in a risky face off with some major names of Big Law, where ethics have no place.

Now, this is where one of my biggest issues begins. The synopsis has practically nothing to do with what the novel is actually about. Sarah Brockman, the supposed main character, barely plays any part in the main storyline itself. She is primarily there to jump in and save the day at the very end of the novel and, of course, to add a touch of romance at various points. Even her love interest Sam has a bigger and more important role than she does. The main character, I would say, is the main villain of the piece, who has considerably more screen time.

The characters themselves served their purposes well; the good ones were likeable and the bad ones were detestable. However, I never truly cared about or connected with any of them. They are fairly cookie-cutter type, one-dimensional characters, and really never stray from their very predictable storylines. In the same vein, the romance between Sarah and Sam, a fellow lawyer, is exceedingly unsurprising and just far too immature and cheesy to be believed.

One of the most glaring problems character-wise is that there is not nearly enough distinction between their voices. And since the narrative jumps from person to person multiple times per chapter, it becomes very tricky to know immediately whose perspective we have just fallen in to. To add to this, very little is done to make any of the characters particularly memorable, and they are left feeling quite inconsistent personality-wise through the entirety of the novel.

And then there was the ending—the astoundingly convenient chain of events that allows the story to finally come to a predictable close. One of the most perfect examples of the term “deus ex machina”. Everything works out perfectly. All the most important pieces fall flawlessly into place. Sarah and Sam literally stumble across absolutely every piece of information they need to take down the bad guys. And in the final climactic scene, a physically impossible feat is pulled off to save the day.

The writing itself is not necessarily bad, but it definitely leaves much to be desired. As I mentioned before, each chapter of the novel jumps around between multiple characters’ points of view. However, there is barely any fluidity in how this occurs, making for a very choppy and confusing narrative that can be hard to follow at times.

The narrative is also far to wordy and repetitive, and it drags along in far too many places. There are numerous points throughout where characters chronicle the exact events that have just happened mere pages before to another character that wasn’t there to witness them. Then, there are tedious monologues about the inner workings of law that play no part in moving the plot forward nor in giving facts to the reader that might become necessary knowledge for other events later in the story.

Overall, this unfortunately did not end up being the enjoyable new read I was looking for. One idea I had that I think could have massively increased the mystery and suspense of this novel would be leaving the villains faceless.

Since we switch between all characters’ points of view, we always know, from the start, who everyone is, how they are connected, and what part they are playing, nefarious or other. This erases all sense of intrigue and uncertainty, and really sucks the interest out of the narrative. If Bregman had left out the perspectives of the bad guys, or—better yet—kept them in but not given a name to the voice, this novel could have been remarkably more dynamic and enthralling.

1.0 TARDIS

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Top 5 Most Anticipated Releases of Fall 2017

anticipatedreleasesoffall2017

Hey Everyone!

It’s been WAY too long since I’ve seen you guys! I apologize for my unplanned hiatus. I’ve been going through a bit of a rough patch with depression and have found it hard to motivate myself to do much of anything. On top of that, my grandmother, whom I was extremely close to, just passed away. But I really want to push myself to get back into blogging regularly. Reading and writing have always been very helpful for me when I’m feeling down.

Anyway, I’m going to try easing myself back into blogging (be patient with me!), and I figured I would start off with my most anticipated releases for my favorite season, Fall! Thank you all so much for sticking by me even with the lack of posting. I truly appreciate every single one of you! 🙂 ❤

Invictus by Ryan Graudin (September 26th, 2017)

invictus

Time flies when you’re plundering history.
Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far’s birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he’s ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.
But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far’s very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems. 
In this heart-stopping adventure, Ryan Graudin has created a fast-paced world that defies time and space.

The Glass Spare by Lauren DeStefano (October 24th, 2017)

theglassspare

A banished princess.
A deadly curse.
A kingdom at war.
Wil Heidle, the only daughter of the king of the world’s wealthiest nation, has grown up in the shadows. Kept hidden from the world in order to serve as a spy for her father—whose obsession with building his empire is causing a war—Wil wants nothing more than to explore the world beyond her kingdom, if only her father would give her the chance.
Until one night Wil is attacked, and she discovers a dangerous secret. Her touch turns people into gemstone. At first Wil is horrified—but as she tests its limits, she’s drawn more and more to the strange and volatile ability. When it leads to tragedy, Wil is forced to face the destructive power within her and finally leave her home to seek the truth and a cure.
But finding the key to her redemption puts her in the path of a cursed prince who has his own ideas for what to do with her power.
With a world on the brink of war and a power of ultimate destruction, can Wil find a way to help the kingdom that’s turned its back on her, or will she betray her past and her family forever?

Renegades by Marissa Meyer (November 7th, 2017)

renegades

From #1 New York Times-bestselling author Marissa Meyer, comes a high-stakes world of adventure, passion, danger, and betrayal.
Secret Identities.
Extraordinary Powers.
She wants vengeance. He wants justice.
The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone…except the villains they once overthrew.
Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada (November 7th, 2017)

thismortalcoil

In this gripping debut novel, seventeen-year-old Cat must use her gene-hacking skills to decode her late father’s message concealing a vaccine to a horrifying plague.
Catarina Agatta is a hacker. She can cripple mainframes and crash through firewalls, but that’s not what makes her special. In Cat’s world, people are implanted with technology to recode their DNA, allowing them to change their bodies in any way they want. And Cat happens to be a gene-hacking genius.
That’s no surprise, since Cat’s father is Dr. Lachlan Agatta, a legendary geneticist who may be the last hope for defeating a plague that has brought humanity to the brink of extinction. But during the outbreak, Lachlan was kidnapped by a shadowy organization called Cartaxus, leaving Cat to survive the last two years on her own.
When a Cartaxus soldier, Cole, arrives with news that her father has been killed, Cat’s instincts tell her it’s just another Cartaxus lie. But Cole also brings a message: before Lachlan died, he managed to create a vaccine, and Cole needs Cat’s help to release it and save the human race.
Now Cat must decide who she can trust: The soldier with secrets of his own? The father who made her promise to hide from Cartaxus at all costs? In a world where nature itself can be rewritten, how much can she even trust herself?

Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi (November 14th, 2017)

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A new adventure about a girl who is fated to wash the bodies of the dead in this companion to Furthermore.
Our story begins on a frosty night…
Laylee can barely remember the happier times before her beloved mother died. Before her father, driven by grief, lost his wits (and his way). Before she was left as the sole remaining mordeshoor in the village of Whichwood, destined to spend her days washing the bodies of the dead and preparing their souls for the afterlife. It’s become easy to forget and easier still to ignore the way her hands are stiffening and turning silver, just like her hair, and her own ever-increasing loneliness and fear.
But soon, a pair of familiar strangers appears, and Laylee’s world is turned upside down as she rediscovers color, magic, and the healing power of friendship.

What books are you guys looking forward to this Fall? Let me know in the comments!

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