ARC Review: Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer

ARC Review: Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer
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Goodreads | Pre-order on Amazon

Rob had it all – friends, a near-guaranteed lacrosse scholarship to college and an amazing family – but all that changed when his dad was caught embezzling funds from half the town. Now he’s a social pariah. 
Maegan always does the right thing. But when her sister comes home from college pregnant, she’s caught between telling their parents the truth about the father and keeping her sister’s trust. 
When Rob and Maegan are paired together for a project, they form an unexpectedly deep connection. But Rob’s plan to fix his father’s damage could ruin more than their new friendship …

Disclaimer: Thank you to Bloomsbury and Netgalley for providing me with an Advanced Reading Copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

This was my first Brigid Kemmerer book, and I absolutely fell in love with it. I spotted this one on Netgalley and the synopsis intrigued me straight away – and the book didn’t let me down!

I love a good contemporary with a twist, and this one had everything. It had great romance, friendships, complicated emotional families, some lovely LGBTQIA+ rep in side characters, and a dark, twisted element that really made the story for me.

The metaphor this book left me with will stay with me for a long time – we all make mistakes. No one is perfect, but it’s how we deal with these mistakes that make us who we are. The character arcs of Maegan and Rob were so interesting, both trying to be happy again after big events in their lives changed them forever. In Maegan’s case, she had made a mistake herself, and in Rob’s, he was trying to survive after his parents made mistakes that ruined his reputation. Throughout the story, he is trying to find himself and become his own person, without making the same mistakes his parents did.

Seeing two different scenarios and both characters worked really well. Each character was flawed, but real and lovable. I really enjoyed reading both of their POV. The romance was tasteful and believable – not too ‘insta’ but the natural reaction of two struggling teens finding each other in the chaos.

I have to also include how much I loved the cast of side characters, including the parents and friends. Everyone had their own story, their own quirks and struggles, and we even saw the flaws of the characters parents and I sympathised with them, too.

The plot left me feeling like I’d just come off a rollercoaster. It threw me, and the added drama made this book fly by. I constantly wanted to learn the next twist or turn, and couldn’t put this book down after around 40%. My only small criticism is I would have liked more of an insight into the actions of Rob’s dad, and I wish the exact workings of his crimes would have helped.

I’m definitely now looking forward to A Curse So Dark and Lonely and I’d love to read more of Kemmerer’s books!

★★★★

4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Beautiful Quotes #128 / History Is All You Left Me

Beautiful Quotes #128 / History Is All You Left Me

Beautiful Quotes is a weekly meme hosted by me, where I post some of my favourite quotes. Any other bloggers are welcome to join me in this and just link my blog!

Hi readers! This past week has flown by in a blur of working and seeing friends and family. It’s also been an interesting week as I bought a Kindle! I’ve always struggled with e-books as reading from my phone gave me headaches, so after years I finally made the decision to buy a Kindle Paperwhite! I picked a scratched secondhand one up cheap off eBay and I’ve surprised myself by absolutely loving it. I mainly picked it up because I want to read Netgalley books, and I’ve already finished my first one (review coming tomorrow).

On a different note, today’s Beautiful Quote is from History is All you Left Me by Adam Silvera. I wanted to include one of my favourite LGBTQIA+ reads for Pride Month!

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Goodreads | Amazon

“People are complicated puzzles, always trying to piece together a complete picture, but sometimes we get it wrong and sometimes we’re left unfinished. Sometimes that’s for the best. Some pieces can’t be forced into a puzzle, or at least they shouldn’t be, because they won’t make sense.” 

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Pride Month: LGBTQIA+ Books I Love

Pride Month: LGBTQIA+ Books I Love

Hi all! I’ve been seeing some great LGBTQIA+ books around for Pride Month, and have been reading some myself. Today’s post is about some of my personal favourites I’ve picked up over the years, so if anyone needs recommendations for Pride Month reads, here you are!

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Goodreads | Amazon

A wunderkind young set designer, Emi has already started to find her way in the competitive Hollywood film world.
Emi is a film buff and a true romantic, but her real-life relationships are a mess. She has desperately gone back to the same girl too many times to mention. But then a mysterious letter from a silver screen legend leads Emi to Ava. Ava is unlike anyone Emi has ever met. She has a tumultuous, not-so-glamorous past, and lives an unconventional life. She’s enigmatic…. She’s beautiful. And she is about to expand Emi’s understanding of family, acceptance, and true romance.

This is definitely one of my favourite all time contemporaries and LGBTQIA+ books ever. I adored this read, and it’s one of the first I recommend to people.

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Goodreads | Amazon

Jude and her twin Noah were incredibly close – until a tragedy drove them apart, and now they are barely speaking. Then Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy as well as a captivating new mentor, both of whom may just need her as much as she needs them. What the twins don’t realize is that each of them has only half the story and if they can just find their way back to one another, they have a chance to remake their world.

Another of my favourite all time contemporaries! I’d love to reread this book as it’s been a few years since I picked it up.

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Goodreads | Amazon

Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen.
That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.
Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

I had to include a few fantasy reads in here and this one is one of the best! I can’t wait for the sequel later in the year.

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Goodreads | Amazon

17 year old Rukhsana Ali tries her hardest to live up to her conservative Muslim parents’ expectations, but lately she’s finding that harder and harder to do. She rolls her eyes instead of screaming when they blatantly favor her brother and she dresses conservatively at home, saving her crop tops and makeup for parties her parents don’t know about. Luckily, only a few more months stand between her carefully monitored life in Seattle and her new life at Caltech, where she can pursue her dream of becoming an engineer.
But when her parents catch her kissing her girlfriend Ariana, all of Rukhsana’s plans fall apart. Her parents are devastated; being gay may as well be a death sentence in the Bengali community. They immediately whisk Rukhsana off to Bangladesh, where she is thrown headfirst into a world of arranged marriages and tradition. Only through reading her grandmother’s old diary is Rukhsana able to gain some much needed perspective. 
Rukhsana realizes she must find the courage to fight for her love, but can she do so without losing everyone and everything in her life?

I only recently read this book (review here) and it was so interesting, because not only did we have the f/f relationship but also Bengali culture.

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Goodreads | Amazon

Who knows you well? Your best friend? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? A stranger you meet on a crazy night? No one, really?
Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.
That is until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.
When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other — and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.

You Know Me Well stands out from other LGBTQIA+ books because it focuses first on friendship, and second on relationships.

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Goodreads | Amazon

Charlie Spring is in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn’t been too great, but at least he’s not being bullied anymore, and he’s sort of got a boyfriend, even if he’s kind of mean and only wants to meet up in secret.
Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He’s heard a little about Charlie – the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months – but he’s never had the opportunity to talk to him. That is, until the start of January, in which Nick and Charlie are placed in the same form group and made to sit together.
They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn’t think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner…

I couldn’t write this post without including the beautiful Heartstopper webcomic and graphics novels! How cute is this?

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Goodreads | Amazon

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.
Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.
But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?
Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.
Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.
But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a
third?
What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?
What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?
But what if it is?

I considered posting about Love, Simon but I think What If It’s Us is the more underrated read from these two authors and I love how it focused on the struggles of the relationship after, not just the meeting of these two characters. I also love History is All You Left Me, my favourite Adam Silvera book!

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Goodreads | Amazon

In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it’s Lei they’re after–the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king’s interest.
Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king’s consort. But Lei isn’t content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable–she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.

I only finished this book the other day (review here), but it’s still on my mind. I really enjoy reading LGBTQIA+ relationships as a subplot, and it worked so well in Girls of Paper and Fire.

I also recently read Meet Cute (review here), which includes a few LGBTQIA+ short stories perfect for Pride Month! Which LGBTQIA+ books do you love and recommend?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #94

Stacking the Shelves #94

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga where we share books we’ve bought this week. Find out more and join in here!

Hi again all! Another week has flown by, and it’s time to confess to more YALC related book buying. I picked up a few more this week to hopefully read before the event, which is just 6 weeks away now!

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Goodreads | Amazon

Sephy is a Cross: dark-skinned and beautiful, she lives a life of privilege and power. But she’s lonely, and burns with injustice at the world she sees around her.
Callum is a nought: pale-skinned and poor, he’s considered to be less than nothing – a blanker, there to serve Crosses – but he dreams of a better life.
They’ve been friends since they were children, and they both know that’s as far as it can ever go. Noughts and Crosses are fated to be bitter enemies – love is out of the question.
Then – in spite of a world that is fiercely against them – these star-crossed lovers choose each other.
But this is love story that will lead both of them into terrible danger . . . and which will have shocking repercussions for generations to come.

I can’t believe I haven’t read this book, even though I’ve heard praise for it over and over again. I’m excited to get to it!

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Goodreads | Amazon

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 dark—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 hearing 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.

This book sounds so interesting and I can’t wait to see if I like it!

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Goodreads | Amazon

Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black. 
Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.
Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.
After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.
Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

I’ve heard so much about V.E. Shwab, and yet I still haven’t read any of her books myself. I’m going to start with her A Darker Shade of Magic series, so I bought the first book 🙂

Have you bought any books this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Review: Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
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Goodreads | Amazon

Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honor they could hope for…and the most cruel.
But this year, there’s a ninth girl. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire.

In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it’s Lei they’re after–the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king’s interest.
Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king’s consort. But Lei isn’t content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable–she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.

It’s been a while since I’v read a good fantasy, and this one was just a delight to dive into. I admired this book so much, it was such an immersive experience with beautiful writing, and I’m so glad I picked it up.

Girls of Paper and Fire follows a world with 3 castes, Paper (fully human) being the lowest, followed by Steel (partly demon) and Moon (fully demon, with animal like qualities). The premise is somewhat like The Selection series, with 8 Paper girls being chosen each year to please the King, who is of the highest caste. This story follows Lei, who was unexpectedly chosen and taken away from her family to become a Paper girl, and seeks revenge for an attack on her village that killed her mother.

‘But time has a way of folding itself, like a map, distances and journeys and hours and minutes tucked neatly away to leave just the realness of the before and the now,’

I say this book is like The Selection, but the likeliness stops there. This book, this world, holds so much more. More depth, more emotion, more intrigue and fight and hardship. It’s no secret that this book tackles some difficult topics, such as sexual abuse, and even though I was prepared, I was left with tears in my eyes in parts. Despite, or maybe because of these difficult subjects, this book is just so powerful.

The politics were interesting to read about and I loved hearing the side of the story from the people who wanted revenge against the Palace. It balanced out perfectly with the gentle friendships the girls found in each other, a unique bond with intriguing characters I could easily read more about.

‘as close as hands pressed on the either side of a rice-paper door.’

The romance that blossoms within this story is beautiful, powerful and healthy. I found myself being reminded of my own relationship and seeing reflections of how myself and my partner support each other, and it was so lovely to read about. I won’t say too much to avoid spoilers, but it felt so wholesome and made me love the characters even more.

The only small problem I had with this book was the pacing at the beginning. Unfortunately, it took me a good few days to get through the first 100 pages, but after that I couldn’t put it down! I was soon whirled away with the lovingly written landscapes, friendships, romances, action and much more. In fact, I want to end by saying the writing was just incredible. I saw a Goodreads review describing it as sensuous, and that is just spot on. Ngan has such a way with words, that resonated with me and has stolen my heart.

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Let’s Discuss! Reading a 16 Book Series

Let’s Discuss! Reading a 16 Book Series

Hi everyone! Ever since I finished Morganville, I’ve wanted to write a post about the series as a whole, and my experience reading such a long series. For a long time, I didn’t really read series, and I read a lot of standalone contemporaries. In fact, I only got into Morganville because of Rachel Caine touring when Midnight Bites came out and my friend at the time wanted to go! I’m really glad we did, because here I am 3 years later, having finally completed and adored the series.

I have to say, going into 16 books was daunting, but it couldn’t have been an easier to read series. Most of the books are short, and although not exactly lighthearted, they’re all easy and quick reads. I needed something I knew I wouldn’t have to focus on too much while moving house a couple of months ago, and these were the perfect books to pick up. Going on holiday in early May meant I could storm through a few more, and I think I finished them in under 2 months altogether! Before I talk about my last thoughts and feelings, I’m going to link all of my reviews below.

Glass Houses (Morganville #1) – Rachel Caine
The Dead Girls’ Dance (Morganville #2) – Rachel Caine
Midnight Dance (Morganville #3) – Rachel Caine
Feast of Fools (Morganville #4) – Rachel Caine
Lord of Misrule (Morganville #5) – Rachel Caine
Cape Corpus (Morganville #6) – Rachel Caine
Fade Out (Morganville #7) – Rachel Caine
Kiss of Death (Morganville #8) – Rachel Caine
Ghost Town (Morganville #9) – Rachel Caine
Bite Club (Morganville #10) – Rachel Caine
Last Breath (Morganville #11) – Rachel Caine
Black Dawn (Morganville #12) – Rachel Caine
Bitter Blood (Morganville #13) – Rachel Caine
Fall of Night (Morganville #14) – Rachel Caine
Daylighters (Morganville #15) – Rachel Caine
Midnight Bites – Rachel Caine

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It’s going to be bittersweet to leave these books behind, and I want to end by saying a few things about the series as a whole:

  • The cast of characters and the group of friends (Claire, Shane, Michael and Eve), have been some of the best I’ve read about. Their chemistry, and action packed scenes contrasted with them living together, made me love them all so much.
  • The location has been so layered, atmospheric and beautiful, in it’s own weird way.
  • Rachel Caine has some skill to keep me interested for 16 books, the longest series I’ve read so far!

I want to leave on a quote from the end of the book which I loved so much and thought summed up the wonderful journey Caine has taken me and so many other readers on:

“You know, you are not the mousy little thing I met that morning in Common Grounds,” he said. “You’ve become something else entirely.”‘

Claire, it’s been so great to see you grow up and mature. Thank you for your story, and the adventure that came with it.

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Top 5 Books On My TBR the Longest

Top 5 Books On My TBR the Longest

This Top 5 Wednesday series is inspired by the weekly meme on Goodreads which you can find here. I no longer follow the topics and instead use my own.

Hi all! Who else has an endless TBR? I went on a book ban for a few months over Christmas/New Year and yet I still have 67 physical books on my TBR. I’m blaming it all on YALC at the moment as I’ve been stocking up books for then and adding books I want to read before YALC to my TBR. I’m currently reading Girls of Paper and Fire before I’m able to meet Natasha Ngan at YALC, and I’m really enjoying it so far!

Today’s topic is books that have been on my TBR the longest. I definitely have a lot to choose from here!

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Goodreads | Amazon

When the lift cranks open, the only thing Thomas remembers is his first name. But he’s not alone – an army of boys welcomes him to the Glade, an encampment at the centre of a terrible maze. The Gladers have no idea why they’re there, or what’s happened to the world outside. All they know is that every morning when the walls slide back, they will risk everything to find out.

I really have no excuse for not reading this series yet. I may have only had the books myself for the past year or so, but my brother has had the set since the first movie came out!

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Goodreads | Amazon

Beatrice Prior is on the brink of a decision that will change her life. In a society divided into factions all are forced to choose where they belong. And the choice Tris makes shocks everyone, including herself.
Once decisions are made, the new members are forced to undergo extreme initiation tests with devastating consequences. As their experience transforms them, Tris must determine who her friends are – and if the man who both threatens and protects her is really on her side.
Because Tris has a deadly secret. And as growing conflict threatens to unravel their seemingly perfect society, this secret might save those Tris loves… or it might destroy her.

My boyfriend picked this series up almost 2 years ago so we could both read it. He’s read the first one but I haven’t managed to get to them yet even though we’ve watched all of the films!

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Goodreads | Amazon

Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.
She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.
There is.
She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.
She’s wrong.

I picked this series up second hand years ago (I can’t even remember how many years ago it would have been), yet I still haven’t picked them up! I guess it’s because I used to find it daunting to read series, but now I pick them up a lot more.

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Goodreads | Amazon

A sharpshooter. A dreamer. A damn good liar. 
Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mythical beasts still roam the wild and remote areas, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinn still perform their magic. For humans, it s an unforgiving place, especially if you re poor, orphaned, or female. 
Amani Al Hiza is all three. She s a gifted gunslinger with perfect aim, but she can t shoot her way out of Dustwalk, the back-country town where she s destined to wind up wed or dead.Then she meets Jin, a rakish foreigner, in a shooting contest, and sees him as the perfect escape route. But though she s spent years dreaming of leaving Dustwalk, she never imagined she d gallop away on a mythical horse or that it would take a foreign fugitive to show her the heart of the desert she thought she knew.

I actually started this book when it came out and couldn’t get into it. Then when the second and third came out, I saw signed editions and couldn’t resist picking them up! Now I read a lot more fantasy, I’m sure I’ll enjoy them when I give them another go.

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Goodreads | Amazon

Noemi is a young and fearless soldier of Genesis, a colony planet of a dying Earth. But the citizens of Genesis are rising up – they know that Earth’s settlers will only destroy this planet the way they destroyed their own. And so a terrible war has begun.
When Noemi meets Abel, one of Earth’s robotic mech warriors, she realizes that Abel himself may provide the key to Genesis’ salvation. Abel is bound by his programming to obey her – even though her plan could result in his destruction. But Abel is no ordinary mech. He’s a unique prototype, one with greater intelligence, skill and strength than any other. More than that, he has begun to develop emotions, a personality and even dreams. Noemi begins to realise that if Abel is less than human, he is more than a machine. If she destroys him, is it murder? And can a cold-blooded murder be redeemed by the protection of a world?
Stranded together in space, they go on a whirlwind adventure through Earth’s various colony worlds, alongside the countless Vagabonds who have given up planetary life altogether and sail forever between the stars. Each step brings them closer – both to each other and to the terrible decision Noemi will have to make about her world’s fate, and Abel’s.

This book is probably the worst on this list, because it came out over 2 years ago and I have an ARC. God knows what got in the way 2 years ago, but I definitely have to read this soon!

Which books have been on your TBR the longest?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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