March Reading Wrap-Up

March was a fairly decent reading month for me! I finished four books and got to take part in a blog tour for Nina LaCour’s novel We Are Okay (spoiler, I loved it!) Running a blog and being able to review books from publishers and take part in blog tours is just incredible. I’m so thankful to be able to do what I’m doing!

This month was a bit hit and miss in terms of finding books I enjoyed and books I really disliked! To find out which ones I adored and which ones I wanted to sleep through, check out the list below!

My Rating System

5 Stars: This. Book. Blew. My. Mind. I’d read it again and again and would highly recommend it.
4 Stars: The book was great! I enjoyed it and I may read it again.
3 Stars: I could take or leave this book. It had some interesting moments, but nothing too captivating.
2 Stars: Not a very good book, I’ll more than likely forget about its existence once it’s lost in the expanse of my book shelves.
1 Star: A book I wish I didn’t waste my time on. I did not enjoy it at all and would definitely not recommend it.

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img_0467Find it on Book Depository

Title: The Diabolic (★★★.5)
Author: S.J. Kincaid
Genre: YA Science Fiction

You can read my in-depth review here.

My Recommendation: I found this book really hard to review, mainly because it started out as a stand alone and turned into a trilogy. The story is a little slow, but otherwise interesting. I didn’t really connect with the characters, but I did really enjoy the world building. It was very reminiscent for the Hunger Games world in terms of technologies and character appearance. This book could be very brutal though and I felt like a lot of characters could have been more developed if this didn’t start out as a stand alone sci-fi.

img_0685Find it on Book Depository

Title: The Graces (★)
Author: Laure Eve
Genre: YA Paranormal Fiction

You can read my in-depth review here.

My Recommendation: This was not my cup of tea. This book was very “Twilighty”. I didn’t enjoy it at all. It had very little plot for nearly the whole book, until the very end when we were bombarded with information and a very obvious plot twist. It just fell really flat and I honestly wouldn’t recommend reading this book. Others have enjoyed it though, so maybe if you don’t mind a book that essentially lives for the twist at the end, you may like it. But I certainly won’t be continuing the series.

Find it on Book Depository

Title: We Are Okay (★★★★.5)
Author: Nina LaCour
Genre: YA Contemporary

You can read my in-depth review here.

My Recommendation: I received this book from Aussie YA Bloggers and UPQ Press as part of a blog tour and I was honestly blown away at how emotionally charged this book was. The whole thing was so beautifully written and the character interactions and connections were what really made this book for me! It has some great LGBTQ+ representation which I loved and an overall really deep, all encompassing emotional pull! This is the kind of book that I think would impact you more if you have lost a loved one as navigating grief is a very large element in this story, but I think it’ll tug at pretty much anyones heart strings.

Find it on Book Depository

Title: The Price Guide To The Occult (★★★)
Author: Leslye Walton
Genre: YA Paranormal Fiction

You can read my in-depth review here.

My Recommendation: I received this book from Walker Books Aus in exchange for an honest review. I really enjoyed this books atmosphere! It really made me feel as though I was right there in the thick of it. However, the characters felt really one dimensional and some of them felt completely unnecessary, as did the romantic sub plot. I won’t read this again, but I may continue the series to see where to goes from here. I would like to point out that this book contains a fair amount of self harm either happening or being talked about and some could find it triggering.

Blog Tour: We Are Okay By Nina LaCour

we are okayFirst of all, I’d like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to Aussie YA Bloggers and The University Of Queensland Press for giving me the opportunity to be part of this blog tour! This book really hit home for me in terms of dealing with grief and trying to find your way back to the person you were prior to being impacted so heavily by the tragedy of death.

Synopsis:

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even far away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.
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Rating: ★★★★.5
Find it on Book Depository

This. Was. Beautiful.

“But I know there’s a difference between how I used to understand things and how I do now. I used to cry over a story and then close the book, and it all would be over. Now everything resonates, sticks like a splinter, festers.”

This book was so relatable for me in terms of dealing with grief and navigating those horribly deep, dark waters back to some semblance of who you used to be before you were touched by tragedy. Reading it took me back to a time just after my brother passed away and had me feeling so much love and compassion for the main character. I don’t want to use the words “I loved it” because honestly, it felt deeper than that. It felt like it stripped me a little raw, and got me thinking about all those times I too wanted to run away and fall into that all encompassing grief.

We Are Okay follows Marin, a grief stricken college student who, after losing the only family she has ever truly known (her grandfather) decides to up and leave her old life behind. She not only walks away from the house and possessions she shared with her grandfather, but she also walks away from her best friend, Mabel. This book takes an emotional dive into what it is like to be Marin as she navigates her way through love, loss, loneliness and betrayal, and how the strength of those who love us most, can be the most powerful and healing tool of all.

This book has some really beautifully done LGBTQ+ representation and executes the raw emotional state of grief perfectly. I was undone so deeply several times while reading this as the way in which Marin sees the world at the beginning of this book and the way she feels throughout was all too familiar for me. I could really get on her level and understand that deep, hollow feeling you get that comes with the loss of someone you love.

In terms of plot, this book almost bypassed the need for one. It focused so intently on character interacts, emotional connections and self growth that it didn’t feel as though it was lacking anything at all. The connection between Marin and Mabel was perfection, their relationship was just beautiful to read. Their love and compassion for one another and their deep understanding of one another was what really made this book for me.

Overall, this book was fantastic, some may find it a little slow or lacking in plot, but as I said, this wasn’t really an issue for me due to the incredibly deep and fleshed out characters. We Are Okay had me in tears several times throughout and really took a good look at grief and the impact one person can have on another. I finished this book in one day! The words flowed so perfectly that it felt like I could continue reading Marin’s story forever. Because of this I am giving We Are Okay 4.5 stars.

Thank you again to Aussie YA Bloggers and The University of Queensland Press for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour!

Book Review: The Price Guide To The Occult By Leslye Walton

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Rating: ★★★
RRP: $16.99 AUD
Find it on Book Depository

A huge thank you to Walker Books for gifting me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads Synopsis:

The Blackburn women are cursed. Ever since the extraordinary witch Rona Blackburn landed on Anathema Island centuries ago and was shunned by the eight “original” settlers, Blackburn witches have been doomed to carry out a brief whirlwind affair with a descendant of the Original Eight. The vengeful curse, however, had unintended side effects: it diluted the Blackburns’ supernatural powers. That’s perfectly all right with seventeen-year-old Nor Blackburn. All she wants is a quiet, unremarkable life—her powers are blissfully unexceptional, her love life pretty much nonexistent. Nor hopes the curse has played itself out through enough generations that she’ll finally be spared the drama. But when a mysterious book comes out promising to cast any spell for the right price, Nor senses a dark storm headed straight for Anathema—and straight for her. 

In her second novel, Leslye Walton spins a dark, mesmerizing tale of a girl stumbling along the path toward self-acceptance and first love, even as the Price Guide’s malevolent author—Nor’s own mother—looms and threatens to strangle any hope for happiness.

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So I really wanted to love this book. That cover, that synopsis! It all looked and sounded like something I would thoroughly enjoy. It started out really promising and the author has an incredible knack for creating atmospheric worlds. I honestly felt like I could smell the fog and feel those cobblestone streets beneath my feet. But when it came to the characters, something was really lacking for me. I would also like to point out that there is also a fair amount of self harm either happening or being talked about in this book. If this is a trigger for you, I would recommend steering clear of this one.

The Price Guide To The Occult follows Nor Blackburn, the latest witch in a line of cursed witches, and her fight to keep the ones she loves most, safe from none other than her own mother. Nor’s mother is hell bent on getting exactly what she wants and she doesn’t care who she has to kill, or how much black magic she has to use to get it. Nor finds herself with more power than she should rightfully have which is both terrifying and may be the only way of destroying her mother for good.

As I said, I couldn’t fault the world in which this is set, it is beautifully written. I loved it. It had this fantastic witchy, dark, mysterious vibe that I could definitely get into and enjoy. However, when it came to the characters, this was when it went down hill for me. It was such a shame that the author was able to create such a rich world, but filled it with cardboard, one dimensional, cliched characters. I found that some, if not all the supporting characters felt completely unnecessary and were there purely to guide the main character from one plot point to the next. The romantic sub plot felt just as unnecessary and bland. Some of the characters were so glossed over that it almost felt intentional, like I was supposed to be waiting for a plot twist that may have involved them. It didn’t come though, they were just bland characters with very little backstory.

The plot itself was interesting, if not a little rushed. I found that I didn’t find the antagonist all that foreboding, despite all the horrendous things she does throughout the book! Again, this could be because I lacked a connection to any of the characters and wasn’t really that concerned that they may not survive the whole book. Due to the story feeling rushed, it felt as though there was no real struggle for the main character. As if this was mostly just a way to start the story and bridge it over to what this series will really be about.

Overall I didn’t hate this book, but I didn’t love it either. Parts of it where interesting, original and fun and other parts where unoriginal and felt rushed. The part I most enjoyed was actually the prologue more than the story itself, I wouldn’t mind reading more about the formidable Blackburn matriarch, Rona Blackburn. Despite this, I probably will continue the story and read future sequels.

Once again, a huge thank you to Walker Books for the opportunity to review this book.

5 Ways To Survive A Reading Slump

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We’ve all been there. You’re smashing your TBR pile/shelf one book at a time, writing all the reviews and just generally living your best book loving life. Until all of a sudden, that drive is gone! Vanished! It’s in the void! You can’t even fathom picking up a book. I’m a weird reader. One moment I’ll be reading constantly, all I want to do in my spare time is pick up the book I’m currently reading. Then the next moment, I won’t feel like reading anything! My worst/longest reading slump lasted almost a year! It was of course around about the time I found out I was pregnant all the way through to after she was born which was both a beautiful dream of baby cuddles and total feelings of love and completion but it was also a total nightmare of no sleep and a crying baby I had no idea what I was doing with.

fast forward 8 months and I can feel myself getting to a point that I may be hitting another, slightly smaller slump. My kiddo is getting teeth, and as most parents know, THIS IS NOT FUN! In addition to this, she also needs to be highly supervised as she is becoming more mobile now, so half my “spare time” is now taken up by a baby who won’t sleep or a baby who just wants to touch everything. So here are the tips and tricks I’ll certainly be following to try and get some reading done and some books completed this month!

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Forget About Your Reading Goal

If you’re anything like me, you’ve set a reading goal on Goodreads this year. I am a total sucker for it, but it comes with both positives and negatives. Positives being, well, it’s fun! Until you hit a reading slump, then those numbers just feel like a burden! So my first tip is to just forget about the numbers! Reading is supposed to be fun. If you only read half a book one month, so be it! As long as you enjoyed that half of a book, the numbers don’t matter! Just roll with it!

Reread Something You Love

Read a book you know you adore (hello ACOMAF)! I find rereading a story with characters I love/have an unhealthy obsession with (hello Cassian!) really helps me get back on track with my reading! I have also found it helpful before, to read a book I haven’t read, yet written by an author I love! Give it a go, you’ll be out of that slump in no time!

Join A Buddy Read

Ask your friends if they’d be interested in doing a buddy read with you! Set small reading goals for the week and then chat about it, preferably over coffee! If you don’t have anyone in your life that is interested in reading, jump on Bookstagram! There are bound to be so many other readers in the same boat as you that would be really happy to do a buddy read with you and chat about it online at the end of the week!

Switch Genres

I’m a total fool for fantasy novels. I love them. LOVE THEM. But sometimes, especially if you’ve been delving into a lot of different worlds, it can get a little repetitive. So why not switch it up! Try reading a contemporary or sci-fi! Or maybe even switch to non-fiction and try that instead. Sometimes all you need is a break from your usual read!

Ride It Out

Sometimes, a book slump is going to win. But instead of forcing yourself to try and get back into reading, why not instead do something else with that spare time! Focus on other bookish things! Write for your blog, takes pictures of Bookstagram, get started on that novel you’ve been thinking about writing for 300 years (you must be a Fae or something if you’ve waited that long though and if that’s the case, hit me up I’d like to visit the Night Court!)

And if all else fails, there’s always Netflix. Go binge watch something awesome and forget about books for a while, the slump will pass eventually. I recommend Brooklyn 99 if you’re looking for a good laugh.

My Birthday Book Haul 2019

img_0877Happy birthday to meeeee! Oh and happy International Womens Day because I was born on March 8th and that’s pretty awesome in itself!

Hooray! It was my birthday this week, and I turned 29! One more year and I’m officially an old person! My birthday week was spent eating cake, hanging out with family and friends and you guessed it, buying books! I was lucky enough to be able to drop my baby girl off with her grandparents and spend the morning wandering the book store, handing books to my husband to carry around for me until I had chosen the ones I wanted to take home! And let me tell you, it was tough, but I managed to choose five books! If you’re interested in what I got, you can find a list below!

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A Curse So Dark And Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

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Find it on Goodreads and Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

Fall in love, break the curse. 

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom. 

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

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Find it on Goodreads and Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

Let me be clear: I never intended to raise my brother from his grave, though he may claim otherwise. If there’s anything I’ve learned from him in the years since, it’s that the dead hide truths as well as the living.

When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she’s a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.

In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha-one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles…and make a powerful choice. 

The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

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Find it on Goodreads and Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be darkness—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death-bringer.

These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up learning in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.

Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.

In Some Other Life by Jessica Brody

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Find it on Goodreads and Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

Kennedy Rhodes turns down an acceptance to an elite private school, instead choosing to stay at her high school and jump at the opportunity to date the boy of her dreams. Three years later, Kennedy walks in on that same boyfriend cheating with her best friend—and wishes she had made a different choice. But when Kennedy hits her head and wakes up in the version of her life where she chose to attend the private school, she finds that maybe it’s not as perfect of a world as she once thought.

Muse Of Nightmares (Strange The Dreamer #2) by Laini Taylor

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Find it on Goodreads and Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

Sarai has lived and breathed nightmares since she was six years old.

She believed she knew every horror and was beyond surprise.

She was wrong.

In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.

Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice—save the woman he loves, or everyone else?—while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the Muse of Nightmares, has not yet discovered what she’s capable of.

As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel’s near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: Must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?

Love and hate, revenge and redemption, destruction and salvation all clash in this astonishing and heart-stopping sequel to the New York Times bestseller, Strange the Dreamer. 

Have you read any of these books? Let me know what you thought in a comment or come find me on bookstagram!

Book Review: The Graces By Laure Eve

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Find it on Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

Everyone said the Graces were witches.

They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair.

They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different.

All I had to do was show them that person was me.

Like everyone else in her town, River is obsessed with the Graces, attracted by their glamour and apparent ability to weave magic. But are they really what they seem? And are they more dangerous than they let on?

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What the heck did I just read?!

Ok, so I don’t really want to just throw the words “this was just like Twilight” around, but.. This was just like Twilight in so many respects.

The Graces follows the new girl in school, River (Bella), who is, along with everyone else at school, infatuated with the Graces (Cullens). The Graces are a threesome of super attractive teen siblings, that are supposedly witches (vampires). For one reason or another they choose River to be their new best friend and together they navigate love, loss, magic and betrayal.

Unfortunately I felt like this book completely lacked atmosphere, and although I believe it was the authors intent to create deep, dark and emotional characters, they mostly just came across as down right pretentious. The pacing was completely off! Nothing happened plot wise for the first 300 pages, by which time, it felt like a dam burst and we were flooded with a lot of information and a really obvious plot twist.

River as a character was horrible! I am really over reading stories about young, hateful girls who rip other girls to shreds because they differ from them. Not to mention her complete and utter adoration of the Graces was cringe worthy! The Graces themselves felt very one dimensional and, for lack of a better word, completely unbelievable and uninteresting. I had absolutely no strong feelings for any of the characters, they all felt completing lacking in substance.

The unoriginal characters are accompanied by unoriginal dialogue. The supposedly “deep” conversations just come across as weird and unbelievable and having to read about River fawning over Edward Cullen’s, oops, I mean, Fenrin Grace’s “crooked smile” and how he smelt “like a thicker, manlier kind of vanilla, was down right nauseating.

I really don’t know how else to describe how I feel about this book. The ending felt really unsatisfying, which I assume is because it’s meant to lead you into reading the squeal. However, due to the first half of this book being totally boring and the last half feeling like it was just too little, too late, I won’t be reading any further. It felt like the author was trying too hard to push the dark and moody vibes of the story that, in the end, it didn’t quite hit the mark. Because of this, I am giving The Graces 1 star.

Book Review: The Diabolic By S.J. Kincaid

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Find it on Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

Nemesis is a Diabolic. Created to protect a galactic Senator’s daughter, Sidonia. There’s no one Nemesis wouldn’t kill to keep her safe. But when the power-mad Emperor summons Sidonia to the galactic court as a hostage, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia.

She must become her.

Now one of the galaxy’s most dangerous weapons is masquerading in a world of corruption and Nemesis has to hide her true abilities or risk everything. As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns that there is something stronger than her deadly force: the one thing she’s been told she doesn’t have – humanity. And, amidst all the danger, action and intrigue, her humanity might be the only thing that can save her, Sidonia and the entire Empire

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This book took me just over two weeks to read. Which, with my reading turn over, may as well be a couple of months! I’m not really sure why, because I enjoyed the overall premise and found it entertaining enough! There were things I really enjoyed about this book and things I found that didn’t quite hit the mark for me. Mostly I’ve found myself with little interest in continuing the series and I’m not sure if this is because the story itself wrapped up fairly well or because the book fell a bit flat for me.

The Diabolic is a Young Adult Sci-fi novel that takes place in a world where Diabolics, humanoid creatures created and grown in a lab using human DNA to be stronger, faster and more viable than regular human beings, are issued to the elite families of the Empire to protect them at any cost. Our main character, Nemesis, is one of these ‘creatures.’ Nemesis is assigned to Sidonia, the daughter of a galactic Senator hell bent on insulting the power-hungry Emperor with his heresy against the Helionic faith. Once the Emperor gets wind of this, he summons the senators daughter to his galactic empire to meet her fate as retribution against the senator. Due to Nemesis’ innate nature to protect Sidonia, she is sent to impersonate her.

I found this book a little hard to review. I think because I was told this was originally a stand alone, but it ended up getting a couple of sequels. The story was great, but felt a little slow and I didn’t find myself gaining much of a connection to the characters. It felt like a lot of information was given and I could understand how the characters fit together, but I couldn’t really understand why they would want to. This could either be a very clever tactic by the author in getting the reader into the mindset of a Diabolic, or a total fluke. I’d like to believe it’s the work of great writing, but I think the only way to know for sure would be to read the sequels and I’m not sure I’m really that interested.

The characters themselves were interesting enough, I enjoyed the touch of romance. However, it was probably the least romantic romance I’ve ever read in a YA novel. But again, this has probably got more to do with the main characters lack of emotional understanding. I also feel like the author did a disservice to a few of the characters by either, killing them off really flippantly or dedicating only a couple of lines to what could have really been a fantastic, diverse back story! This could be due to the fact that it was originally a stand alone and the author didn’t have much time to truely delve into their character. There is a lot of senseless brutality within this book. I understand the author trying to paint certain characters as tyrants, but a lot of the brutal scenes felt a little unnecessary.

I really did enjoy the world in which this story was set. I suppose the use of the word “world” is used rather loosely as most of this novel is set on a space ship/station in the middle of the cosmos! But I really loved learning about the advanced technologies and the way in which these characters lived in a galactic environment! The advanced technology and physical enhancements gave me a little bit of a Hunger Games vibe, which I really enjoyed!

Because Diabolic was fairly brutal at times and the numerous twists and turns were lacking in suspense for me, I’ll be giving this book 3.5 stars. It was entertaining enough, but I’m still undecided as to whether I will read the sequels.