Thursday, April 12, 2018

Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter

Not if I Save You First
by Ally Carter
Read: February 12 - 16, 2018
Published: March 27, 2018 by Scholastic Press
Source: Galley from publisher
Category: YA, Contemporary, Thriller, Best friends to enemies to love, Alaska, Wilderness, President 

Book Description: Maddie thought she and Logan would be friends forever. But when your dad is a Secret Service agent and your best friend is the president's son, sometimes life has other plans. Before she knows it, Maddie's dad is dragging her to a cabin in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness.

No phone.
No Internet.
And not a single word from Logan.

Maddie tells herself it's okay. After all, she's the most popular girl for twenty miles in any direction. (She’s also the only girl for twenty miles in any direction.) She has wood to cut and weapons to bedazzle. Her life is full.
Until Logan shows up six years later . . .
And Maddie wants to kill him.

But before that can happen, an assailant appears out of nowhere, knocking Maddie off a cliff and dragging Logan to some unknown fate. Maddie knows she could turn back- and get help. But the weather is turning and the terrain will only get more treacherous, the animals more deadly.

Maddie still really wants to kill Logan.
But she has to save him first.
 
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Three things I loved about Not if I Save You First by Ally Carter: 

1) Yay for another Ally Carter book in third person. So many people say they prefer first person perspective, but I typically prefer third, and for this author's books, I think she works best in third person. Now my favorite series of Carter's remains Heist Society, and I was so excited to see her get back to that POV. You're probably laughing at how important this is to me, but it is! 

2) This story and it's twisty thriller plot was great fun. Maddie is the daughter to a former Secret Service agent, and former best friend to the president's son. But she has been living in the Alaskan wilderness with her father for the past 6 years after a kidnapping incident at the White House. This girl is a survivor and highly adaptable to any situation, whether it be a fancy party or a trek through the wilderness. She is sharp, quick thinking and ready to act in a crisis, and a crisis comes hard and fast in this book. Like all of Carter's heroines, Maddie is definitely the one to watch in this story, and I couldn't wait to find out what she'd come up with next. 

3) Romance! Let's face it, for Ally Carter books, I'm always here for the romance. Now I do wish that we'd gotten a little bit more explanation where the letters were concerned. I needed more talking through that situation. But I really liked this second-chance romance and the way all the danger and action brought these two together again. Maddie and Logan have lots of great tension from the start, and I was all over watching them work their way through their unresolved feelings for each other while they fight to stay alive, and escape the dangers that have found them in the Alaskan wilderness.

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone


My bookish inspiration: 
Find this and other snaps on my Instagram

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Isle of Blood and Stone by Makiia Lucier

Isle of Blood and Stone
by  
Read: March 24 - 31, 2018
Published: April 10, 2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 
Source: Netgalley -(TY HMH!)
Category: YA, Fantasy, Adventure, Maps, Secrets, Romance 
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound

Book Description: Ulises asked, "How can I look at these maps, see this riddle, and do nothing? They are my brothers."

Elias reached across the table and flicked aside two shells with a fingertip. The map curled into itself. "It's bound to be a goose chase. You know that?"

"Or a treasure hunt," Ulises countered, "and you've always been good at those."


Nineteen-year-old Elias is a royal explorer, a skilled mapmaker, and the new king of del Mar's oldest friend. Soon he will embark on the adventure of a lifetime, an expedition past the Strait of Cain and into uncharted waters. Nothing stands in his way...until a long-ago tragedy creeps back into the light, threatening all he holds dear.

The people of St. John del Mar have never recovered from the loss of their boy princes, kidnapped eighteen years ago, both presumed dead. But when two maps surface, each bearing the same hidden riddle, troubling questions arise. What really happened to the young heirs? And why do the maps appear to be drawn by Lord Antoni, Elias's father, who vanished on that same fateful day? With the king's beautiful cousin by his side—whether he wants her there or not—Elias will race to solve the riddle of the princes. He will have to use his wits and guard his back. Because some truths are better left buried...and an unknown enemy stalks his every turn.
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What a fun story. Mystery and danger and adventure and secret clues in a map. Plus compelling characters and a sweet romance. I enjoyed this so much! 

Isle of Blood and Stone is a great fantasy adventure with surprises up its sleeve. Especially in the way the clues of the story weaved together in the end. I figured out several details, but not the full picture, and I had the best time watching everything unfold. This story is not super fast paced, but I really enjoyed the measured unfolding of this tale and discovering clues and danger along with the characters. 


I also loved the characters: Elias, Mercedes and my unexpected favorite Ulises. This story is mostly told in Elias' perspective, and I liked him so much. Although no one compares, he reminded me a little bit of Gen, in the way he can be comfortable in many settings. We also get a lot of Mercedes too. This girl has had to deal with a lot in her life because of her mixed heritage, but still she is fierce and sure of who she is. We don't get a lot of Ulises voice, but the scene we did get intrigued me a lot, and I'm hoping the next book gives us more of his POV (Highlight spoiler: and maybe a bit of romance for him too!)

I'm forever a fan of a good romance and this one has one that is subtle but sure in its direction, without even the hint of a triangle (you know how that makes my heart happy). It's the perfect amount and made me grin for sure. 

Put this book on your list! I cannot wait for the next in this series, and the adventures these characters will discover next. 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Low. Hints of where the story will go but ends solidly.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Haven by Mary Lindsey

Haven
by Mary Lindsey
Read: November 8 - 13, 2017
Published: November 7, 2017 by Entangled Publishing 
Source: Finished copy from Publisher
Category: YA, PNR, Shifters, Werewolves, 
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound

"We all hold a beast inside. The only difference is what form it takes when freed."

Rain Ryland has never belonged anywhere, He’s used to people judging him for his rough background, his intimidating size, and now, his orphan status. He’s always been on the outside, looking in, and he’s fine with that. Until he moves to New Wurzburg and meets Friederike Burkhart.

Freddie isn’t like normal teen girls, though. And someone wants her dead for it. Freddie warns he’d better stay far away if he wants to stay alive, but Rain’s never been good at running from trouble. For the first time, Rain has something worth fighting for, worth living for. Worth dying for. 
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Haven is a pretty typical shifter YA PNR, except that it is told in the boy's POV. This boy Rain, as usual, moves to a small town and discovers something weird is going on with the residents. As per usual with these books, I enjoyed discovering what was going in this town along with Rain. Also, it was interesting reading this story from a guy's perspective, especially as he is the outsider in this scenario, not sure at first what is happening. Typically it is the girl who is discovering the supernatural world, so this was a refreshing twist. 

Haven is heavily romance focused and Rain's growing relationship with Freddie is a huge part of the story. However , the romance started a little too fast for me. The story also contains a lot of revelations and world set up "rules" that seemed to be revealed quicker than the story was paced, and I ended up a little bit confused at times because of it. 

Another thing that bugged me is that Rain and Freddie's relationship gets serious very quickly, but it's also completely fade to black, which threw me off. Either show those scenes (and make it an older YA or adult book), or don't imply them at all, especially to the degree they were implied. I felt like I missed some of the romance development because of that, and something about it bothered me a lot, which in turn, threw off my feelings about the entire story.

While I enjoyed Haven, I think I'm growing out of the typical YA PNR. I've seen a lot of praise for this book, and I think I would have really liked it some years ago. But while I was entertained and wanted to keep reading until the end, I wasn't blown away by it. I really did like Rain though, and I enjoyed seeing him find a place for himself and make friends. While I admire Freddie, I didn't feel like I got quite as close to her. And I didn't feel as connected to her emotionally, and emotional connection is pretty much everything for me when I read and rate a book. 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone, as far as I can tell. If this series continues, I hope it follows another character.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Bound to You by Alyssa Brandon

Bound to You 
by Alyssa Brandon
Read: February 16 - 18, 2018
Published: April 10, 2018 by Swoon Reads
Source: ALA MW 2018 
Category: YA, Paranormal Romance, Werewolves, Mates

Book Description: A teen werewolf finally meets her destined soulmate only to discover that he's not quite what she expected in this steamy debut romance.

She's met her mate . . . and he's met his match.

Megan Ross has been waiting her whole life for her mate to come and sweep her off her feet. But the wolf she meets on the beach is NOT the sweet gentle boy she's been dreaming of. Instead, he's a warrior, one whose suffering has led him to lock his heart away in a prison as cold and hard as a diamond, who fights to resist the bond and their deep sexual attraction.

Far from home, with a soulmate who is still a stranger, Megan learns that the path to true love isn't quite as straight and easy as she thought . . .
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Bound to You is a YA werewolf Paranormal Romance. It is also a Swoon Reads book. Neither of which I've had great luck with recently. However, I'm excited to report that I enjoyed this book a lot!

I dislike the "she's not like other girls" story angle. But it is true that this book doesn’t follow the typical PNR plotline. You know, the beautiful, but-she-doesn’t-know-it girl, who moves to a new town and falls in love with a super natural creature that she never knew existed, storyline? Don't get me wrong, I've loved many books with that set-up. But it was refreshing to read something different. In Bound to You, Megan is a werewolf who has grown up in a loving family/pack, so the direction of the story doesn't focus on the discovery of a previously unknown supernatural world. Although, Megan's view of her world is expanded throughout the book. 

Bound to You begins at Megan's 18th birthday party, where she hopes that among all the young eligible werewolf guests, she will find her mate. And she does find him there! But he’s not anything like she expected (of course). James is brooding and angry and less than thrilled to now be mates - despite his Wolf’s eagerness about it. James is a warrior wolf living with his pack in Canada and he takes Megan there right away. Life with this new pack isn’t what Megan expected, but she’s determined to make the best of it and win James over. I liked Megan and could sympathize so much with her excitement about being mated and confusion over James’ seeming indifference to it. But there’s a lot going on below the surface and as Megan slowly gets to know him, she begins to understand why he is the way he is. 

At the core of this book is a love story. A very swoony hate-to-love romance (well on James’ part it seems that way). I like the way this is set up, with these two being bound right away and having to figure out how to be together. I also really appreciated the message that every relationship takes work and care, even if you’re perfect mates. 

My only downgrade of this book is that I wanted more at the end! Also we are introduced to James’ packmates as well as the mysterious Lucy, all of whom I adored and wanted to read more about, but some of those story threads (especially involving Lucy) were introduced and left wide open. As was lots of questions about wraiths. Hopefully that means the author has some companion sequels planned! 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: stand-alone? (Seems to set-up for a series)


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

BLOG TOUR: Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton
Review + Photo Inspiration

Tour organized by Penguin Teen 
See the full schedule below

I have loved following Amani on her adventures since she was a girl living in a small town at the edge of the world. Until she became the Blue Eyed Bandit and escaped that town on a magic horse. This girl has done so much in three books, and the finale to her story is just as exciting as all of the rest. 

Read on for my thoughts on Hero at the Fall and my photo inspiration for the story. 


Hero at the Fall
by Alwyn Hamliton
Read: February 20 - March 1, 2018
Published: March 6, 2018 by Viking Books for Young Readers 
Source: Galley from publisher (TY!!)
Category: YA, Fantasy, Desert, Magic, Djinni, 
Series: Rebel of the Sands book 3/3

Book Description: When gunslinging Amani Al'Hiza escaped her dead-end town, she never imagined she'd join a revolution, let alone lead one. But after the bloodthirsty Sultan of Miraji imprisoned the Rebel Prince Ahmed in the mythical city of Eremot, she doesn't have a choice. Armed with only her revolver, her wits, and her untameable Demdji powers, Amani must rally her skeleton crew of rebels for a rescue mission through the unforgiving desert to a place that, according to maps, doesn't exist. As she watches those she loves most lay their lives on the line against ghouls and enemy soldiers, Amani questions whether she can be the leader they need or if she is leading them all to their deaths.
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NOTE: Hero at the Fall is the third book in a series. See my thoughts on Rebel of the Sands and Traitor to the Throne. My thoughts may contain minor spoilers for the first two books. 

Hero at the Fall is a strong and worthy conclusion to the Rebel of the Sands trilogy. I'm always wary when going into the final installment of a series I've adored, but I had nothing to fear with this one. 

What I loved - 

I loved the theme in this book about how real people can become heroes that turn into stories told. But those tales cannot contain the small and messy details of a person’s life. I love that we see this concept in action through the alternating chapters featuring stories told about each character. I enjoyed knowing these characters intimately, and beyond what would be said about them in the future. 

I loved Amani and her fierce love of the sands of her home and her willingness to do anything to protect it. This girl has amazed me this entire series, and I have loved following her through three books. Her magic is also pretty amazing, and I couldn't wait to see what she would do next. The part that takes place on a ship was especially thrilling. And I love that it combined both her and Jin's loves. 

I loved this band of Rebels fighting together and sometimes dying in the name of the Rebellion and the Rebel Prince. This book definitely has some casualties and brutal moments. But their camaraderie and support of each other through so much made my heart swell. One of my favorite relationships was Amani and Shazi's friendship. 

I loved the romance between the Blue Eyes Bandit and her Foreign Prince. Seeing a girl of the sand and a boy of the sea fight for each other was so rewarding, especially after the drama of the last book. 

What I wish - 

I wish we’d gotten a little of Jin's perspective. I know he loves Amani and his close family. But it wasn't always clear where his head or heart were in terms of the rebellion. He was supportive, but I wanted a little more ownership from him, since this nation is part of him too - as much as he sees himself as a foreigner. But a lot of that could be more my perception than reality, since we never get his internal POV. And to Jin's benefit, he is always there for Amani and the mission of the Rebels. 

This book features a lot of traveling through the country, and I enjoyed getting to know the people and getting out of the city that Amani was stuck in during most of Traitor to the Throne, but there were a few times that the story slowed for me in the middle.  

Also, I wish I’d reread the previous books because I didn’t remember all of the mythology in this world and got a little confused about the different Demdji heroes and powerful Djinni of history. Thankfully, there is a list of characters at the start of the book that was helpful. 

In Conclusion - The ending of this book is dramatic, exciting and not everyone makes it out alive or unscathed. But it also ends in a way that left me extremely satisfied. Now that this series is out in full, it's the perfect time to read it. I cannot wait to read what Alwyn Hamilton writes next. 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Series conclusion 
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Photo Inspiration: 

To celebrate Hero at the Fall, I took Amani to the beach, which combines her favorite element - sand - with her least favorite - water. Of course, water happens to be Jin's favorite. 

Will this hero and her rebel crew be washed away or will the sand rise up and prevail?




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About the Author: 

Alwyn Hamilton was born in Toronto and lived between Canada, France, and Italy until the was three, when her family settled in the small French town of Beaune. She studied History of Art at King's College, Cambridge, graduated in 2009, and lives in London.
Author Links: Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram 

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Follow The Tour

WEEK ONE
2/26 – Writing is Hard – Review + Social Media Promo
2/27 – Mike the Fanboy – Fun Recap of Series
2/28 – My Friends are Fiction – Review 
3/1 – The Young Folks – Review
3/2 – Lisa’s Lost in Lit – Creative
WEEK TWO
3/5 – The Reader Bee – Review + Bookstagram Post
3/6 – Seeing Double in Neverland – Review + Creative Insta Post
3/7 – A  Book and A Cup of Coffee – Playlist
3/8 – Fiction Fare – Moodboard
WEEK THREE
3/12 – The Eater of Books – Moodboard
3/13 – Love Is Not a Triangle – Review + Bookstagram Picture 
3/14 – Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Creative Content
3/15 – Forever Young Adult – Review

Monday, March 12, 2018

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Now We Rise Blog Tour

#NowWeRise Blog Tour organized by Fierce Reads


Children of Blood and Bone
by Tomi Adeyemi 

Release Date: March 6, 2018 
Publisher: Henry Holt Books for Young Readers

Book Description: Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut, perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Sabaa Tahir.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.
 
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For the Children of Blood and Bone Discover Your Magic #NowWeRise Blog Tour, I am a Grounder and this book involves a journey, so I took Zélie and her book for a walk at one of my favorite local places to explore:


I am currently reading this book and LOVING it, but I also want to savor every minute of the story, and it's a constant pull in both directions. Although it is not the same at all, Zélie is pulled and stretched a lot in this book. I cannot wait to find out where she goes next on her journey (literally and figuratively).


Grounders can manipulate the earth, and being outside and exploring nature is one of my family's favorite things to do together. Zélie travels through the heat of a jungle and desert in this story, and she talks about living in a place with snow during her early life. 


My family loves to explore the same places in multiple seasons, experiencing the rhythms of the earth. Although Zélie's life gets turned upside down in this book, she talks about missing the daily life and rhythms of her own fishing village. 

Now back to reading this amazing story...

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You can also take a more formal Maji Clan quiz at Childrenofbloodandbone.com

Lake Silence by Anne Bishop

Lake Silence
by Anne Bishop
Read: December 16-22, 2017
Published: March 6, 2018 by Ace
Source: NetGalley (Thank you Penguin Random House)
Category: Adult, Urban Fantasy, Shifters, Mystery
Series: The Others #6
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound

Book Description: In this thrilling and suspenseful fantasy, set in the world of the New York Times bestselling Others series, Vicki DeVine and her lodger, the shapeshifter Aggie Crowe, stumble onto a dead body . . . and find themselves enmeshed in danger and dark secrets.

Human laws do not apply in the territory controlled by the Others–vampires, shapeshifters, and paranormal beings even more deadly. And this is a fact that humans should never, ever forget . . .

After her divorce, Vicki DeVine took over a rustic resort near Lake Silence, in a human town that is not human controlled. Towns like Vicki’s have no distance from the Others, the dominant predators that rule most of the land and all of the water throughout the world. And when a place has no boundaries, you never really know what’s out there watching you.

Vicki was hoping to find a new career and a new life. But when her lodger, Aggie Crowe–one of the shapeshifting Others–discovers a dead body, Vicki finds trouble instead. The detectives want to pin the man’s death on her, despite the evidence that nothing human could have killed the victim. As Vicki and her friends search for answers, things get dangerous–and it’ll take everything they have to stay alive.
 
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NOTE: Lake Silence can be read as a standalone, although it is a companion to the previous 5 books in The Others series. Those books start with Written in Red and focus on Meg and Simon and the Lakeside Courtyard. I would highly recommend reading them if you haven't already, because they are amazing. 

Although I miss Meg and Simon and he Lakeside Courtyard, I am so totally invested in this world and this book was just as addicting as all the rest. I enjoyed getting to know a new part of the country and following Vicky, Aggie, Grimshaw, Ilya, Julian and all the rest of the cast of humans and Others. I especially loved the new addition of the Sproingers. 

Lake Silence follows many similar elements of the previous books. A mystery involving terrible humans - this time when a Crowguard finds the eyeball of a dead man - necessitates the involvement of the local terre indigene (The Others) population in human town's affairs. As usual, The Others' are vastly underestimated by the terrible humans. This mystery also brings about the collaboration of The Others and the good humans. This time, the human at the center of the conflict is Vicky Devine, who has unwittingly inherited an Others' settlement in a nasty divorce agreement. Although Vicky seems fragile at first, and she's no match for any of The Others (no human is), she also has steel behind her that many miss, and I enjoyed seeing that come out. 

The characters are one of my favorite parts of these books, and I loved watching The Others band around Vicky, and she and other sympathetic humans around them. Together they work to solve the mystery of what is happening at her lakeside inn before the danger gets too close to her. There is also a sweet and tentative friendship that hints at a romance between Vicky and another character, though as per usual, it is a very quiet and minor part of the plot. 

The mystery and focus on this part of the world appears to wrap up by the end of this story, and I believe the next book will take place in another area of the country. Hopefully, out west. But wherever the book is located, I will be reading it as soon as I can.

Love Triangle Factor: None - (Spoiler: A very small romance is hinted at here, but it's a tiny side element.)
Cliffhanger Scale: This is a fully complete story/companion in The Others' world.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer

More Than We Can Tell
by Brigid Kemmerer
Read: January 20 - February 9, 2018
Published: March 6, 2018 by Bloomsbury Children's
Source: Galley from publisher (TY!!)
Category: YA, Contemporary, Fostering, Adoption, Families, 
Series: Companion to Letters to the Lost

Book Description: Rev Fletcher is battling the demons of his past. But with loving adoptive parents by his side, he’s managed to keep them at bay...until he gets a letter from his abusive father and the trauma of his childhood comes hurtling back.

Emma Blue spends her time perfecting the computer game she built from scratch, rather than facing her parents’ crumbling marriage. She can solve any problem with the right code, but when an online troll’s harassment escalates, she’s truly afraid.

When Rev and Emma meet, they both long to lift the burden of their secrets and bond instantly over their shared turmoil. But when their situations turn dangerous, their trust in each other will be tested in ways they never expected. This must-read story will once again have readers falling for Brigid Kemmerer’s emotional storytelling.
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NOTE: Although More Than We Can Tell can be read as a standalone, it takes place after the events of Letters to the Lost and my connection to Rev was so much stronger having known him from Declan and Juliet's book. That book is just amazing in its own right too, so don't miss it! 

Ever since I finished Letters to the Lost last year, I've been desperate to know more about Rev Fletcher, Declan's hoodie-wearing, scripture-quoting friend. So of course I was thrilled when I heard that Brigid Kemmerer was writing a companion book from Rev's perspective. And oh my goodness, I love Rev even more after reading More Than We Can Tell. This boy stole my heart and then some. 

It was an absolute treat to be inside of Rev's head and get to spend more time in his world, even when it was difficult - and oh, how this boy and his life made my heart ache. I also loved getting to know Rev's adopted parents better. They are exactly the parents that Rev needs in his life with their steady calm and always reassuring love. I also enjoyed catching up with Declan and Juliet from Letters to the Lost. Declan and Rev have such a strong bond. I love the way they always support each other. Their conversations were one of the parts of this story that I enjoyed most. It just filled me with so much joy to see Rev surrounded by so much love and support, and the ways his parents and Declan reminded him that they were always there for him to lean on. But, one of my unexpected favorite parts of this story was Rev's relationship with his foster brother Matthew. I'd love a book set a few years later and focusing on him (crossing my fingers!).

This story also introduces us to Emma who has a lot going on in her life too. While I didn’t fall for her as much as I did for Juliet, I enjoyed seeing Emma grow and change through this story too. I also enjoyed watching Emma's growing bond with Rev, though I didn't find their relationship as swoony as I hoped I would. I think because of everything going on in their lives. I wanted more of the buildup of their growing friendship/relationship. But there were a lot of different issues going on in this story - in both Rev and Emma's lives - which started to clutter the story a bit for me. Honestly, I was so much more invested in Rev that some of the things going on with Emma didn't interest me. But that was all minor in a moving and very worthy companion-sequel to Letters to the Lost.

I cannot recommend More Than We Can Tell or Letters to the Lost enough. Both - and each - of these books is amazing and not to be missed. 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone 
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