Book review – Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Caidyn's review (1)

Lies We Tell Ourselves


CW: racism, sexism, internalized homophobia, and child abuse

Robin Talley is definitely a new favorite author for me!!

Ugh, this book. I really enjoyed it (as you can tell by my rating) but I want to start it off with this: I don’t think this book would go over as well if it was published today. Now, I enjoyed it. I really loved it. However, there’s such a push for ownvoices books. In other words, this book could have been written by a black author since one of the perspectives was of a young black woman during integration.

However, Talley really did her research. It’s a great example of authors being able to write whatever they want, so long as they do their research. Yes, I prefer ownvoices authors. I actively seek out ownvoices reviewers when possible/needed to see what they thought. But Talley convinced me in this book. She perfectly captured the period and the feelings that I expected them to feel.

So, this book follows two young women in their senior year of high school. Sarah is new because it’s the south during integration and she’s a black woman going to a white school for the first time. Her parents want their kids to have the best education and to be around the best people. She, her sister, and their friends all band together to go to this one school.

Then, there’s Linda. Linda is a white woman and her father is a journalist who writes very racist articles. She doesn’t quite have his opinions, however. She’s also dating the coach at school to get away from a family she doesn’t want to be around.

What they both have in common is they’re both into women — or Sarah’s a lesbian and Linda is interested in men and women. It’s never stated so I don’t feel like assuming that!

They’re forced to work together on a project and, in the end, become friendly. Sarah puts down whatever racist thing that Linda says, educating her in the process. And then something more happens between them.

I really loved that this switched between both the perspectives. I wasn’t sure if I’d be behind the romance, but I actually was in the end. Why? Because I felt like it was believable. I felt like the feelings that they had and the character arc for both were very believable. It was very well-written as usual.

Sarah’s internalized homophobia was so great and I loved to see both of them break it all down. In the end, this was a heartwarming book. It was hard to read, though, because of the descriptions of racist actions. Spitting on people, throwing things, beatings just because white people could get away with it. It was a horrific reminder of what was the norm in America for so many years. (And this country still is racist, tbh.)

I already wish there was a sequel about them and where they end up with life! It was such a great book. While I wish it was ownvoices, Talley captured the period perfectly with each of the characters. I can’t wait until I read another book by her!

Talk to me!
Have you read this? What did you think?
Do you know of any ownvoices books set in this period that are also LGBTQ+?

Book review – Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

Caidyn's review (1)

Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe #2)


CW: death of loved ones, murder, and revenge

  1. Scythe – 4/5

I nearly started screaming into the void at the ending. Damn am I glad the third book comes out soon!

I’m going to spoil the first book for you, so don’t read any further if you haven’t read it and plan on it! (Keep reading if you have read it or you haven’t and you don’t care about being spoiled.)

This takes place a bit after Citra becomes Scythe Anastasia. She has a unique gleaning — aka killing — technique that is making her friends and enemies all around, plus just the hubbub around her appointment in the first place. She still works with her mentor, Scythe Curie, and they get along well. Everything’s going well for Scythe Anastasia, though.

Then, there’s Rowan. Rowan has months left of immunity thanks to Scythe Anastasia’s deft move to grant him that so she didn’t have to glean him. However, he’s doing something a bit more unique. He’s pretending to be a scythe to kill scythes who are a part of the new order.

And, lastly, there’s a new character. Greyson Tolliver. He’s more of a mystery about his character and his importance. Even after the ending, I’m still wondering how he was so important and why he was introduced.

Still, I loved the plot. It was so enthralling to read and gave me something to do on commutes back to the hotel and to random places in Portland. Also, it furthered characterization so well of the people I had become attached to in the first book.

What really stood out was the expansion of the world. In this book, you really get to know the Thunderhead — the AI system that controls their world but was made by humans — better. I loved reading the little sections between chapters and the Thunderhead’s commentary on different things.

You also get to see the innerworkings of scythedom better, along with a newer category of people called “unsavory”. Basically, they’re people who have done things so bad that they’re locked out of the regular world. Like scythes, they can’t contact the Thunderhead but because they are being forced out of the usual world.

At times, I wished that the story was more plot focused. Most of the time I was wondering to myself: Why is this important? Why is this character needed? What’s this working towards? But, I really enjoyed it when I realized what was happening. I still wish that the story had been more narrowed at times.

But, that ending slayed me. I’m deadish waiting to be revived by the final book!

Talk to me!
Have you read this?
What did you think?

First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

“They’re coming.”

I looked down the row of Aska hunched against each other, ducking behind the muddy hill. The fog sat on the field like a veil, but we could hear it. The blades of swords and axes brushing against armor vests. Quick footsteps in sucking mud. My heart beat almost in rhythm with the sounds, pulling one breath in and letting it touch another before I let it go.

I love those first lines. You can get such a picture of it in your mind. Maybe it’s me, but I picture the movie Gladiator when the Romans are setting up the lines and the battle right at the beginning against the Germanic tribes. That’s where my mind goes.

But, this book was a popular 2018 YA fantasy release. Yes, I read it. And I reviewed it on here. A “sequel” is coming out in September.

It is…


Sky in the Deep

As I said, I have read this and I’m rereading it because I really need to refresh myself on this world and the events in this book. You can find my review here if you want to check it out. I didn’t love the book but I did enjoy it. Now I’m excited to give it another read to see if I like it better this time!

Talk to me!
Have you read this?
What did you think?

Book review – If You See Her by Ania Ahlborn

Caidyn's review (1)

If You See Her


CW: suicide, unhealthy obsession, and alcoholism

Ania Ahlborn does it again! Yet again, she’s managed to impress me with her knowledge of how to write a story and how to keep me hooked. I don’t know if any other author could have made this such a taut, intense tale.

Really, this is a story of obsession. It was so interesting to read it and how it transferred. As usual, she toes the line of what is supernatural and what is psychosis. She does that in nearly all of her books and I just love how deftly she manages it. It never dips too much one way or the other. I never feel like she’s leading me somewhere but is guiding me to make my own decision at the end about what really happened.

The story follows Jesse. In high school, he and his friends, Casey and Reed, decided to go to an old, abandoned house after a night of drinking. Three friends go in, two, Jesse and Casey, come out. Reed commits suicide in the house with them there. Or, did he?

After that, Jesse becomes an alcoholic and, eventually, gets his life together again. He’s a teacher with a wife — his high school sweetheart — and one child. All until Casey comes around. Casey moved on with his life and became a YouTube star. But, now he wants to go back to the house for whatever reason.

And then the cycle starts up again.

Really, this is a story of obsession. It was so interesting to read it and how it transferred. As usual, she toes the line of what is supernatural and what is psychosis. She does that in nearly all of her books and I just love how deftly she manages it. It never dips too much one way or the other. I never feel like she’s leading me somewhere but is guiding me to make my own decision at the end about what really happened.

I felt like the characters and their motivations were very real and believable. I loved watching the descent into madness and the struggle to resurface from it. It was really wonderful to read.

The book was very slow. It felt like it could have made a good short story but it was expanded into something larger. At times, it dragged. I think the backstory of the ghosts and the flashbacks didn’t work as well for me as I wanted it to, but it was still interesting to read as it was all central to what Jesse goes through.

As usual, Ahlborn crafted a very interesting and compelling story. It was just a joy to read. I nearly devoured it all in one sitting, so that says a lot!

Talk to me!
Have you read this? Are you planning on it?
Who’s your favorite horror author?

June Check-in

copy of copy of copy of top ten tuesday

As usual, let’s reflect on the things I read, both reviewed on here and not. If you aren’t friends with me (or follow me) on Goodreads, you totally should because you’ll see all my updates on books and everything else.

Top Ten of 2019

I still only have two left! I’ve made progress on one and the other is something I’m hoping to read in July so I only will have one left by the end of this month! Fingers crossed, right?


I read 8 books that were sci-fi in June! I finished Contagion, Scythe, Recursion, Thunderhead, and This is How You Lose the Time War. I DNFed Wilder Girls, Chameleon Moon, and Early Riser. That means I’ve read 28/25. I’m over my goal again! Turns out, I really love sci-fi. I’m going to stop really counting here since I’ve obviously held my goal of reading more sci-fi and making it a genre I reach for more.

Historical Women

I read 2 books, Mary Queen of Scots and Princesses, in June. I’m at 20/25, so I’m very close to finishing this challenge!


Last month, I read The Big Four, The Mystery of the Blue Train, and Peril at End House. I DNFed The Hunchback of Notre Dame (which made me very sad). So, I’m right at 20/20 now! I will be reading more since I still want to get through all of the Poirot series.


I read Contagion and If You See Her this month but DNFed Wilder Girls. (I do dual count them for genres if they fit in multiple places.) I’m at 9/10 for my challenge!

Talk to me!
How are you doing on your challenges?
What do you want to read more of in the latter half of 2019?

Top Ten Tuesday – Childhood Favorites

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018!

Hello and welcome to the Top Ten Tuesday where Caidyn shows just how weird he was as a child and worries everyone about his sanity.

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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)

This series started when I was a baby, but I joined in when the fourth book was out and the movies were starting up. Definitely was a favorite in my childhood! I couldn’t get enough of these books.

How to Care for Your Monster

Now. I’ve owned this book since I can remember. Literally, I don’t remember a time where I didn’t own this book. But, I read it over and over and over and over again as a kid. I still own it to this day and it gave me life.

Wenny Has Wings

This book is about a kid who was hit by a car with his sister. He lives, she dies. And it’s about grief and pain and learning to survive. And I loved this book as a kid?? I don’t know. I genuinely don’t. (My review.)

The Barking Ghost (Goosebumps, #32)Say Cheese and Die! (Goosebumps, #4)It Came from Beneath the Sink! (Goosebumps, #30)

When I was a kid, Stine was in his damn prime. He’s making a comeback now, but nothing can compare to the 90s-00s era. These three were ones that scared me the most and ones I really remember. The Barking Ghost scared me shitless. Say Cheese and Die is one that I remember as a bit freaky and also very clever. It Came From Beneath the Sink was super freaky but also very, very interesting.

Betrayal: The Betrayal; The Secret; The Burning (The Fear Street Saga Trilogy, #1-3)

Now, I don’t know if y’all know about Fear Street. Fear Street is a street that has a lot of crazy shit happen on it. And this book series is the beginning of it all! How Fear Street became this way through the Fear family. I love origin stories and this book, as a kid, was it for me. Also, super gory which gave me joy.

A New Fear (Fear Street Sagas, #1)Forbidden Secrets (Fear Street Sagas, #3)The Hidden Evil (Fear Street Sagas, #5)

If this isn’t confusing enough, this book is the continuation of the Fear family (which is a family and a street). It’s a collection of books that have to do with the Fear family and what happens with them through the years. These three were my favorites! A New Fear is the first book after the trilogy listed above and is the most direct book. Really gory and creepy. Forbidden Secrets is one that I remember loving as a kid. Again, it was gory but also really twisty and the ending messed with me. The Hidden Evil is another one that I remember being twisty, gory, and the ending was a great twist.

Talk to me!
What did you read as a kid?
Was I the only one with a Stine obsession?

July TBR

Caidyn's TBR

Hello, all!

I can’t believe that this is the seventh month of the year. Shocking. And, as usual, I’m going to make myself an ambitious TBR.


As usual, I have a lot of ARCs that I need to get through. Y’all shouldn’t be surprised by this anymore.

House of Salt and Sorrows

This one’s a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, but also super dark. I’ve been reading it already so there are definitely major trigger warnings, but it’s so damn good!

The Victim

In some ways, this reminds me of No Exit by Taylor Adams (which I loved). So, I’m hoping that this is a really good thriller!

The Birthday Girl

When I was a teenager, I loved de la Cruz. I read, like, all of that stupid vampire series she wrote. No joke. All of them. But, I’ve decided to give this one a try! It sounds interesting and it was a freebie on Edelweiss a while back.

The Doll Factory

I got randomly chosen for this one — as in, I didn’t request it but the publisher gave it to me — so I’m going to see how much I like it! It sounds interesting, so the worst that can happen is me not liking it.

The Hidden Things

Again, sounds super interesting! I’m a little worried that it’ll have too much going on, but it still sounds interesting to me.

The Whisper Man

I’ve been seeing this all over bookstagram for months. And now I’m going to finally dive into it!

The Reckless Oath We Made

I make no secret that I loved Greenwood’s first book. And so I’m really excited that I got approved for her second book! It sounds so good and like it will win me over like the first one did.

Alexander the Great: His Life and His Mysterious Death

I don’t know much about Alexander the Great. He’s one of those historical figures you just know about without really knowing much about him. So, I’m kinda excited to see how I like this!

The Passengers

I really enjoyed The One by this same author, so when I heard he was coming out with a new book this year, I found it on Edelweiss and got it. It sounds like it’ll be a fun sci-fi/thriller!

Present through the End: A Caring Companion's Guide for Accompanying the Dying

I requested this one and, admittedly, I’m a bit nervous about it. I think it’ll be great info (especially since it’s endorsed by Ira Byock), but I’m worried that it’ll get to me.

The Madness Blooms

I might not be on Twitter, but I haven’t been ignorant of the drama around it. I requested this from Edelweiss long before all of this started. Chantel started it before me and was enjoying it a lot, but felt bad because of all the drama. Right now, I’m halfway through and I’m almost 100% sure mine will be a glowing review.

Historical Women

As usual, I have a couple books that I want to read about some awesome women through the ages.

The Romanovs: 1613-1918

Yes, the Romanov dynasty is largely about men. But, holy crap, they had some awesome early women empresses. Seriously. They were pretty BA before Paul took that away.

Athenais: The Life of Louis XIV's Mistress, the Real Queen of France

I’ve owned this book for a pretty long time so I feel like it’s finally time to read it. Also, it sounds like it’ll be an interesting read.


Another couple of classics that I have planned! Might read more, but who knows.

Lord Edgware Dies

I’ll definitely be reading this very soon. Reread for me, but I remember nothing about it so that’ll make it fun!

A Tale of Two Cities

This is one of my favorite classics and I’m very excited to be reading this with Virginia!!


And, as usual, I have other things that don’t fit into a distinct category.

Everything's Eventual: 14 Dark Tales

I tried to read this one a few months ago, but I really want to try it again. Might not work out, but I’m going to give it a try.

Jade City (The Green Bone Saga, #1)

I read this last year (my review) and the sequel is coming out! That means it’s time for a reread to refresh my memory!

The Hindus: An Alternative History

I’ve seen some mixed reviews for this, but I’m still super interested in checking it out. It’s also on my top ten list for this year.

Love From A to Z

This isn’t my usual thing. But, Melanie and Amy are reading this for their book club, so I’m going to give it a try!

Sky in the Deep

Last year, I read this book (my review) and thought it was pretty good. I have an ARC for the “sequel”. Time to reacquaint myself with the world!

The Art of Breaking Things

I received this book from the publisher. Seriously, it reminds me of Sadie and it makes me want to read it. Also, that cover is amazing.

Sorcery of Thorns

This sounds like it’s going to be an interesting read. I’ve seen so many good reviews for it (and I got it thanks to Owlcrate’s June box) that I have to read it.

With the Fire on High

Again, not my usual read. But, I think that it sounds good and I think that I’ll enjoy it. Plus, that damn cover and the naked book is absolutely gorgeous.

Nocturna (A Forgery of Magic, #1)

I read the first chapter of this from the library and, well, it completely got me. So, I bought myself a copy! Very, very excited to dive into this new series.

Talk to me!
What books are you planning on reading this month?
Have you read any of these yet?

June Wrap-up


I swear that there was no June this year. I really do think that’s what happened. Because, it went so fast!! It felt like the first half of the month was preparing for Portland, then I was in Portland, then I was working on stuff for my second, and final, year of grad school.

Basically, a lot has been going on!

Along with that, I’m very excited to announce that I’m an affiliate for Book of the Month’s brand new YA line! If you already have BotM, you have to make a new one. If you don’t, you can sign up and choose exclusively from five YA selections for $14.99 each month. Tomorrow they’re announcing their July choices, which I’ll post about.

You can go to our bio/home page and there’s a link that’s mine. What does that mean? If you sign up through it, I get $10. I’d love it if you all could if that’s something you can afford and are inclined towards since it does help this blogger out a bit. Or, you can click here to give it a look! The July choices are pretty damn good!

But, enough promo for this post. Onto what I read!

I read 30 books this month! I’m pretty proud of that number. Even more proud that my average rating was 3.8! May was a super low month, 2.9, so I’m happy that it went up and I did a better job of choosing what I read.

Below are links to my reviews with the ratings.

Reviews on the Blog

Reviews on Goodreads

Reviews to post in July

  • If You See Her by Ania Ahlborn – 4.5/5
  • Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman – 4/5
  • Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley – 4/5

Thank you all for indulging my promo! I will be posting about that another time this month, just as a warning. I’m just really excited that BotM is taking this step and that they were amazing enough to let me be an affiliate.

Talk to me!
What were your favorite books this month?
Have you heard about Book of the Month YA?

June Haul

Copy of Copy of Top Ten Tuesday

Hello all! I’m here to share with you the books that I bought and was sent this month! I did spend a bit more since I did go on vacation and had a blast.

Book of the Month

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These are my June picks from the ever wonderful @bookofthemonth! I couldn't help but get three. I can always find more books, even though my #tbrpile is growing at an extreme rate. 📚 I got We Hunt the Flame because it's been so hyped for me. Then, The Golden Hour because it mentioned the Windsors and, well, royalty got me hooked. Finally, Recursion because I've never read Blake Crouch before and this was my chance! 📚 What book(s) did you get?? 📚 #bookstagrammer #bookstagram #bookofthemonth #booksubscriptionbox #amreading #tbr 📚 [Image description: We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal, The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams, and Recursion by Blake Crouch. Books are resting on a grey blanket.]

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This time, I got three books! I actually read two over my vacation, We Hunt the Flame and Recursion. Both of the reviews are on my Goodreads! I’m probably going to read The Golden Hour a bit later since it feels like a good fall read for me.


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I got my Owlcrate box yesterday! And, y'all, it was a winner. Swipe for spoilers! 📚 I'm super excited about the coffee. I can't try it yet since we only have a Keurig but I'm going to ASAP. The book ends are also gorgeous. I'm totally using them as props in my pictures! And coasters?? Love em. Always need more. Lastly, the book. I guessed right and I'm very excited to read it. Also, that cover is amazing. 📚 What's your favorite part of the box? 📚 #owlcrate #booksubscriptionbox #bookstagrammer #bookstagram #yafantasy #tbr 📚 [Image description: Pictures of June's Owlcrate box! First picture is just of the box. Second is of Book Beau coffee that's Beauty and the Beast themed and a key shaped pen. Third is of Narnia themed book ends. Fourth is of a bag with a Strange the Dreamer quote on it. Fifth is of a set of coasters with bookish quotes on them. Sixth is of the enamel pin. Seventh is of the book, Sorcery of Thorns.]

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This month, I decided to get Owlcrate! I figured out the book (and it was one that I had my eyes on). Plus the goodies that they talked about were too good to pass up! Not only can’t I wait to read the book, but it had stuff in it (gender neutral stuff!!) that I’m actually going to be using.


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See this stack? These are the books that I got at @powellsbooks! Obviously, I got quite a few. 🤣 In other news, I have no self control. Only one isn't pictured because I got it for my mom! 📚 I got a few books that I've already read, but most were ones that I haven't! My stacks of unread books have definitely grown. 📚 #bookpile #bookstack #reader #amreading #tbrpile #bookstagrammer #bookstagram 📚 [Image description: Stack of books that include The Shining by Stephen King, Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley, Solitaire by Alice Oseman, Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley, Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert, Scythe by Neil Shusterman, and The Romanovs by Simon Sebag Montefiore.]

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This is my haul from Powell’s specifically. Funny enough, I had already read Scythe (as y’all know) and The Shining. While I was in Portland, I also read Lies We Tell Ourselves and Solitaire. I’m currently reading The Romanovs. So, I think I’m doing very good at this!

Not pictured are books I bought in Barnes and Noble while we waited on her mom. I got Nocturna, With the Fire on High, and  Love From A to Z.

From publishers

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#partner While I was away in Portland, I got some amazing #bookmail that I want to show off! (While also using my new bookends from @owlcrate!) 📚 First up were some raffle wins from @bookishhq! So far, they're such fun! I'm grateful to have them and I will always thank the wonderful people who worked hard to organize this. So, thanks for the books! 📚 Next was surprise bookmail from @vikingbooks! I didn't expect it, but it looks really good. It's an already published book, so I'm planning on reading it next month. Thank you for sending it to me! 📚 #bookstagrammer #bookstagram #bookishfirst #bookishhq #arcs #thisishowyoulosethetimewar #dragonslayer #theartofbreakingthings #reader #amreading #currentlyreading 📚 [Image description: First picture is of all the books together with bookends holding them up. Second picture is of This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. Third picture is of Dragonslayer by Duncan M. Hamilton. Fourth and final picture is of The Art of Breaking Things by Laura Sibson.]

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Then, I got home from Portland to some amazing mail from publishers! I’m currently reading Dragonslayer and This is How You Lose the Time War since they come out in early July and I want to make sure they’re read since they’re ARCs. But, I really am excited to dig into The Art of Breaking Things since it gives me a Sadie vibe.

But, those were the books that I got this month! I’m sure that July will be a light month since I have expenses that I’m expecting, but who knows!

Talk to me!
What books did you get this month?
Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Down the TBR Hole

Down the TBR Hole

Down the TBR Hole is a meme created by Lia @ Lost in a Story.

Most of you probably know this feeling, your Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well that’s going to change!


  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

Unsinkable: The Full Story Of The RMS Titanic

I’ve always had a small obsession with the Titanic. Always. Ever since I was a kid. And, I really would like to read this, even though it’s small for a full history.

Verdict: Keep

The Book of Strange New Things

The reviews for this aren’t thrilling. And the description sounds pretty boring. It’s one of those I could like, but it just doesn’t sell itself well.

Verdict: GO!

The Peripheral

Eh? Sounds like a Black Mirror episode, but in a boring way.

Verdict: GO!


Meh? Sounds a bit boring.

Verdict: GO!

Doomed Queens

I’ve read too many books like this one tbh.

Verdict: GO!

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany

This is one of those books I really want to read, even though it’d take me about three to six months.

Verdict: Keep

Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII

I’ve heard iffy things about this book. Lots of mixed reviews. I’m going to remove it for now, but one day I might read it anyways.

Verdict: GO!

Falls the Shadow (Falls the Shadow #1)

The reviews for this one aren’t that great, but that cover is fantastic.

Verdict: GO!

Fearscape (Horrorscape, #1)

I’ve been wanting to read this for ages and I have it on my Kindle. I don’t know why I haven’t read it yet.

Verdict: Keep

The Last Queen

I’d rather read about Juana in a nonfiction book.

Verdict: GO!

Last TBR: 1560

Books kept: 3

Books removed: 7

Current TBR: 1552

Image result for yas gif

I shock myself sometimes by actually keeping my damn TBR down so much.

Talk to me!
Have you read any of these books?
Should I have kept any that I removed?