Review: Magpie by Elizabeth Day

MagpieMagpie by Elizabeth Day
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Magpie follows Marissa, Kate and Jake. Marissa and Jake seem to have a perfect relationship. So perfect, in fact, that they dream of having a baby together.

Kate, is their perfect new lodger, whose rent should help them start their family. She gets on with Jake quite well.

All sounds perfect, doesn’t it? Guess what, if it seems that way, it’s probably not. We all read Thrillers, we know this.

It’s not just the fertility issues that start to put a strain on their relationship. Their new lodger also seems to like to push boundaries. It’s most distracting.

Magpie is a good book. It’s a solid story that I know a lot of Readers will really enjoy. I’m glad I picked it up, but unfortunately, I don’t think it is one that will stick in my mind for long.

For one, I’m not sure the subject matter really suited my tastes. Additionally, from the beginning I couldn’t stand Marissa. I felt like I was supposed to be on her side and if anything, it was the opposite for me.

This book is broken into separate Parts. Part I is from one perspective and then Part II shifts to another. Right around this time there was a big reveal.

For me, the reveal felt like it happened too early, because after that it was sort of just telling the aftermath of that reveal. It sucked any intrigue out of it for me.

I also feel, and this is 100% personal taste, that I would have enjoyed it more if it would have had a format that alternated perspectives for much longer. Sure, this could add some confusion, but also, that’s part of the fun.

There was something else more towards the end, but that ended up falling a little flat for me in comparison. Overall, this is a solid story. The things that didn’t work for me are personal taste issues and completely subjective. I’m sure many, many Readers will have a lot of fun with this.

If the synopsis sounds intriguing to you, absolutely give it a shot. There’s a book for every Reader and a Reader for every book. This one could be a new favorite for you.

This review feels a bit shorter than those I generally tend to write, but this one is really difficult to talk about without going into specifics. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, so will leave it here.

Magpie is entertaining, if not super memorable. I’m glad I gave it a shot. Even though it won’t end up on any of my favorites lists, it wasn’t a bad way to pass the time.

Thank you to the publisher, Simon & Schuster, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity to provide my opinion.

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Review: The Man Who Died Twice (Thursday Murder Club #2) by Richard Osman

The Man Who Died Twice (Thursday Murder Club, #2)The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

❤️💙🖤❤️💙🖤❤️💙🖤❤️💙🖤❤️💙🖤❤️💙🖤❤️

After reading The Thursday Murder Club last month, I knew I needed to continue with this series right away.

I fell in love with the characters, the retirement community setting and the compelling mystery that played out.

The Man Who Died Twice is the second book of the series and dare I say, I enjoyed it even more than the first, which I loved. It seems the more time I spend with these characters, the more invested I become.

In this story we are reunited with Elizabeth, Joyce, Ron and Ibrahim, shortly after the events of Book 1. The impetus to this adventure is Elizabeth receiving a letter from an old colleague/flame, who finds himself in a bit of a bind and is hoping for her assistance.

There’s $20,000,000 in diamonds and mobsters involved, of course, because what fun would it be otherwise?

We meet Douglas, the old flame, along with his partner Poppy. Ibrahim has a scary run in outside of Cooper’s Chase that makes him reevaluate everything. Donna and Chris are actively trying to nab a local drug lord.

There’s a lot going on, but all of the varying plot-lines blended together perfectly. Osman made it comfortable to read and engaging throughout.

I never had times were I was in one perspective wishing to get back to another, which can happen with stories that switch perspectives frequently.

Elizabeth, Joyce and their friendship were again the stars of the show for me, although I do really love everyone.

Additionally, I feel like we got to know Donna and Chris, the local detectives who have befriended the Murder Club, a bit more. I really enjoy both of their characters. Donna is struggling a bit with her place in life and Chris’s new relationship with Donna’s mother, Patrice.

I actually felt it was important for us to hear her struggles. I liked to see that vulnerability from her. It made her relationships with the people in the Murder Club seem that much more important now. I get it, Donna. I see you.

It was also so fun having more Bogdan. Bogdan, a Polish man of many useful talents, helps around Cooper’s Chase and in this one, is particularly helpful to Elizabeth. Their relationship is so special.

I guess you can probably spot the theme here. Even though this is a super fun mystery, at it’s heart this is a story of people making their way in the world and the special bonds they’ve formed with one another.

It has filled my heart reading both of these books and I’m so looking forward to picking up the third!

I definitely recommend this series and highly recommend the audiobooks. The narration is fabulously done and overall, it’s just a super engaging listening experience!!

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Review: Little Monsters by Kara Thomas

Little MonstersLittle Monsters by Kara Thomas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

Kacey has had a strained relationship with her volatile mother for years. When it becomes too much for her to handle, Kacey moves to Broken Falls, Wisconsin, to live with the father she has never met.

Her Dad has a wife, Ashley, a step-son, Andrew, and a younger daughter, Lauren. Kacey is simply thrust into their family. It’s not necessarily comfortable at first, but overall she’s grateful to have a more secure environment. It’s definitely a change for her.

It’s not necessarily easy to be the new girl at school either, although we love a new girl trope.

Luckily for Kacey, Bailey and her best friend, Jade, see Kacey, a ship without a port and take her into their group. Soon enough the trio are like peas in a pod.

They get up to the typical high school girl things like sneaking out, trespassing and trying to summon spirits in abandoned buildings. You know, the usual. There is some minor tension amongst the girls, of course, but that’s normal too.

Sometimes Kacey prefers to spend quiet nights at home, but Bailey and Jade are usually fairly insistent that she join them on nights out.

On the night of the biggest party of the year though, Kacey doesn’t hear from them. They seem to have ghosted her.

Kacey is concerned. Even though she enjoys some quiet time, FOMO is real. The next day, Kacey receives the news that Bailey is missing. She just disappeared, gone in the night. Did she run off, was she taken, is she still alive?

When the police question Kacey, she’s not exactly forthcoming with the truth. Does she have something to hide she’s not letting on to the Reader?

This was such an interesting story. We followed Kacey mostly, but we also got some of Bailey’s perspective. It was a compelling sway of back-and-forth.

Kacey was an interesting main character, who had been through a lot already in her young life. Now as she seemed to be settling into a more secure home environment, other aspects of her life seemed to be getting out of hand.

The more Kacey digs, the more it seems that everyone suspects her of having done something to Bailey. Kacey’s determined to figure this out. She actually wants to find Bailey, but small towns can hold a lot of secrets and loyalties run deep.

Kara Thomas knows how to build suspense. This one had me absolutely glued to the pages. It was unsettling. Stories like this, that feel so very real to life can be so disturbing.

I picked this up as Book #11 for my TBR-Haul Project. I hauled this in November of 2018 and am so happy that I finally made the time for it.

I’d heard a lot about this book from others and everything they said was true. I definitely recommend the audiobook format. It was fantastically narrated. I was so invested in this narrative and characters.

This is such a compelling mystery. Highly recommend!

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Review: The Hand on the Wall (Truly Devious #3) by Maureen Johnson

The Hand on the Wall (Truly Devious, #3)The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Hand on the Wall is the third book in the Truly Devious series. At this point in the story, three people connected to Ellingham Academy have died since our intrepid protagonist, True Crime aficionado, Stevie Bell has arrived.

One, the victim of a potential prank gone wrong, the second, dead by misadventure and the third succumbed to a tragic accident in Burlington. Is that all these deaths are though? Were they accidents and misadventures, or something much more sinister. How about murder?

If you haven’t read the earlier books, you may want to avoid the rest of this review. Although I do try very hard not to reveal anything not included in the Publisher’s synopsis.

At this point, Stevie Bell knows who Truly Devious is. She’s cracked the case. One of the greatest unsolved mysteries of our time, and she, a high school girl in rural Vermont has figured it out. At least she thinks she has.

It’s actually hard for Stevie to concentrate strictly on the decades-old case. Paired with the recent tragic events, it’s becoming muddled. Stevie is perplexed. Her gut tells her these three newer deaths are in some way connected to those of the past, but how?

With a storm of epic proportions bearing down on the private school, most students are quickly evacuated for safety. Stevie is right where she wants to be though. She can’t leave. Not when the answers she seeks could lie within these walls.

I loved the two previous books and this was definitely a solid continuation to the series.

I really enjoyed filling in some of the blanks regarding the historic-Truly Devious case. In this installment, as with the previous two, you do get alternating perspectives of both the past and present-timelines.

The information gained in this book really helped to make sense of some of the questions I’ve had regarding that earlier timeline, but where does it go from here?

This left off in a very intriguing place, so I am definitely excited to move forward with the next book.

Stevie has grown so much as a character since the first installment. She’s gaining confidence and really coming into her own. I am looking forward to watching her grow even further as she continues working on the many mysteries surrounding her.

Another aspect I really enjoyed about this one was the inclement weather. The storm essentially evacuating most of the unnecessary players from the school was a nice set-up for creating a spooky, claustrophobic-feeling ambiance.

I am planning to continue onto the next book very soon, in order to be caught up just in time for the 5th-book in the series, Nine Liars, to be released next month!

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Review: Never Ever Getting Back Together by Sophie Gonzales

Never Ever Getting Back TogetherNever Ever Getting Back Together by Sophie Gonzales
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My confession of the day is that I have never watched a full episode of either The Bachelor, or The Bachelorette.

Of course I have watched clips and understand the general idea, I’m not a savage. I also recognize it is an absolute sensation and many people love it.

After having so much fun with this book, I think I may need to binge some!

The set-up of Never Ever Getting Back Together feels very ode’ to The Bachelor and frankly I was living for it.

We follow rich, related-to-royalty, arguably-charming playboy, Jordy, getting his own reality television show, Second-Chance Romance.

For the show, ex-girlfriends of Jordy’s will be living together in a mansion, interacting with him and each other, participating in challenges and generally biding for his attention. Week-by-week, Jordy sends one girl packing, until the time comes for his final selection.

Maya dated Jordy two-years ago and the break-up was rough. He cheated on her for months before ultimately calling it quits suddenly when she called him out on his behavior.

Skye dated Jordy directly after Maya. In fact, Maya’s reputation precedes her. Jordy warned Skye how jealous and crazy Maya got after he broke up with her.

Skye can’t believe Maya is joining the show too. Isn’t she like a security risk or something?

When Maya learns Skye, the girl who stole Jordy from her, is going to be participating on the show as well, she’s furious. This girl knowingly dated Jordy behind her back for months. Who does that? Filthy liars, that’s who.

Arriving at the mansion the two girls learn an even more horrible truth, they’re being forced to room together. They’re quite literally bunk-mates.

They try to muscle through it, they might even be contractually-obligated to, but it ain’t gonna be easy. Along with four other girls, Maya and Skye start to settle into their new normal and compete for the ultimate prize: Jordy.

Maya’s no fool though. She knows Jordy too well to fall for any of this smoke in mirrors. Jordy hasn’t changed and that’s fine by her. Maya isn’t dreaming of becoming Jordy’s one-true love, she’s dreaming of revenge.

I had a lot of fun with this. Particularly the set-up, it was adorable. The narrative alternates between Skye and Maya, beginning a little before they even agree to be on the show.

The backdrop of the mansion, filming the reality show, it was great. I felt like I was getting a real glimpse behind the scenes of an actual show. It felt very realistic.

I also liked the mix of personalities that the contestants had. They all had their own motivations for being there and few of those actually revolved around Jordy, or love.

Skye and Maya’s interactions, as they got to know one another, as they battled and then began to drop their defenses; I thought that was really well done too.

My only slight issues with this story would be that I feel like it may have worked better if the story was actually written as New Adult, or Adult. It could have gone farther in the exploration of the relationships.

Also, I didn’t feel the chemistry between the characters. I didn’t find the romance that ultimately transpires believable.

These are tiny critiques though and both of these things are simply my personal opinion. Overall, this book is adorable as heck and I really enjoyed following the concept through to the end.

I was lucky enough to listen to an audio copy and definitely recommend that medium. The narrators did an incredible job bringing this story to life.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review. I am absolutely looking forward to more from Sophie Gonzales!!


Never Ever Getting Back Together
releases next Tuesday, November 29th. Preorder your copy now. You don’t want to miss out. Get it while it’s hot!!

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Review: The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

The Thursday Murder ClubThe Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Thursday Murder Club is a bloody brilliant start to a Cozy Mystery series. I’m in, hook, line and sinker.

This one features an interesting mystery, fantastic characters and the audibook narration was perfection.

I feel like one of the last remaining people on Earth to have read this delightful Mystery, but I’m so happy to be joining the party, late or not.

I really wanted to listen to the audio, because I had heard great things about the narration by Marian Keyes and Lesley Manville. They weren’t wrong. It was well worth the over year wait for my library hold to come through.

If you aren’t aware, this book follows a charming group of septuagenarians, mainly Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron, who live in a retirement village known as Cooper’s Chase.

This fearsome-foursome meet up once a week to discuss and dig into cold cases. They also have a local DS they befriend and consult regarding their cases of interest.

In this book specifically, a property developer involved in the creation of Cooper’s Chase is found murdered. A case of utmost interest to our friends.

The mystery was cleverly-plotted. I enjoyed the many people of interest we came across along the way. There’s a lot of drama going on surrounding this little community.

The members of the Murder Club all got on so well. I loved their moments together and witty dialogue. The narration had me giggling many times, picturing everything perfectly.

There were some great suspects and lots of motives for potentially killing our victim. Not much got past the Murder Club though. They were on it.

In addition to the great mystery, there was also some thoughtful and emotional moments reflecting on aging and issues that may arise later in life.

In fact, there was one scene that had me in tears. It took me by surprise how much I was moved by many of these characters personal journeys.

I’m really looking forward to continuing on with this series. I’ve heard it just keeps getting better and better.

I’m already attached to these characters and am so excited to join in the investigations and solve some more cases!

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Review: Nothing More to Tell by Karen M. McManus

Nothing More to TellNothing More to Tell by Karen M. McManus
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Karen M. McManus is back and her latest novel, Nothing More to Tell is my favorite yet!

I have been so hyped about this book for over a year and apparently, for good reason. I’m not sure if it was my level of excitement that pushed this one over the top for me, but this was pretty much a perfect YA Mystery for my tastes.

And that Epilogue?! Are you kidding me, McManus!? I want more of this story and these characters so much. Fingers crossed there will be an announcement soon, if there hasn’t been already. It’s possible I missed something. Nevertheless…

This story follows Brynn and Tripp, long-time friends from Sturgis, Massachusetts, who had a falling out and were then separated for four years after Brynn’s family moved to Chicago.

Due to a change in Brynn’s father’s job, they’re back in Sturgis, right back in their old house. Brynn is nervous about going back to Saint Ambrose School. She didn’t leave under the best terms, after her ex-best friend, Tripp, embarrassed her in gym class and then socially shunned her with zero impetus or explanation.

More tragic that all that though is the fact that just prior to their move, Brynn’s favorite teacher Mr. Larkin was murdered and found in the woods adjacent to the school. Three student discovered his body, her ex-friend Tripp being one of them.

Now upon their return, Brynn is determined to get to the truth behind Mr. Larkin’s death. She even pitches the case to a popular True Crime podcast, at which she has secured a dream internship.

Back in school, Brynn’s pretty determined. Let the investigation begin. She knows someone is hiding something about Mr. Larkin and it just may be Tripp.

The Reader also gets Tripp’s perspective and there are some scenes set in the before, surrounding the time that Mr. Larkin was killed.

I absolutely adore how McManus unrolled this story. The shifting perspectives, the mini-reveals along the way as Brynn gathers more and more information, it was perfectly paced in my opinion.

I loved Brynn’s investigation. Amateur sleuths are one of my favorite tropes and I found both Brynn’s motivations and her methods believable.

I also thought there were some great red herrings and the way this wrapped up was smart. As mentioned earlier, I am fairly sure there will be another book to follow this one, but since I have heard nothing official in that regard, I will just say that I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Personally, I would love more content with Brynn and Tripp!! There’s more to explore in this town.

As an aside to long-time McManus fans, you’ll find entertaining Easter Eggs, or references to her previous works cleverly placed throughout. Every time I came across one, it would just bring a ridiculous smile to my face.

Also, it made me want to reread everything she has ever written. Frankly, that shows you just how clever this one really is. Well played, McManus. Again. Well played.

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Review: The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

The Ghost BrideThe Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve had my eye on this gorgeous book for a very long time. After recently reading through some glowing reviews from friends, I decided not to put it off any longer. Proving that sometimes I do make good choices. It’s rare, but it happens.

One of my favorite aspects of this ended up being the striking atmosphere. It was such a good fit as we transition from a spooky October into a still spooky, yet more cozy November…

Set in the 19th-century port town of Malacca, in colonial Malaya, this story follows 17-year old, Li Lan, who lives with her father and loving nursemaid, Amah.

Li Lan’s family was once well-off, but due to her father’s persistent opium addiction, they now find themselves virtually bankrupt.

Li Lan is at the point in her life when most young women her age are getting married. Due to their status, however, Li Lan finds herself without many prospects.

When her father first presents her with the idea of becoming a ghost bride for the wealthy Lim family, he says it lightly, sort of in passing; like he wasn’t really considering it.

The local practice of ghost brides are said to calm restless spirits of those who have passed on. The Lim’s son, Lim Tian Ching, has recently died under mysterious circumstances and his mother seems set on finding him a ghost bride.

Even though Li Lan would be set for life, having a lavish place to live, never wanting for anything, she’s not into it. Tying herself to a dead man for the duration of her life, no thank you. She wants more, maybe even love.

When she gets invited to the Lim home for a visit however, she does accept. There’s no reason to be rude. Plus, she’s genuinely curious about the family.

It is a very interesting visit. She’s mesmerized by their lifestyle and the characters fluttering around their lush estate. After the visit, the haunting of Li Lan begins.

In her dreams, Li Lan is visited by the dead Lim Tian Ching, whose spirit makes her incredibly uncomfortable for a host of different reasons. The nightly interactions begin to wear heavily upon her.

She even goes as far as visiting a medium to try to find a way to free herself of his spirit. In short, she’s given a potion of sorts to try to help and after taking too much, Li Lan slips into a coma.

Y’all, I am really simplifying this here, but you get the gist. Through her condition, Li Lan is transported to the parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, where vengeful spirits, ghost cities and monstrous establishments abound.

There she meets Er Lang, a sort of spiritual guide, and they help her upon her journey. The more ensnared Li Lan becomes in this world, the greater the risk becomes that she will never be able to return to the mortal realm. It’s a race against the clock.

I adored the menacing, magical tone of this. I loved the infusion of Chinese folklore. It’s so interesting to read about and learn about. I have read a couple of other novels tackling similar concepts and always end up really enjoying the imagery of the dark underworld.

I did end up listening to the audiobook and I would absolutely recommend that format. It is actually narrated by the author and is completely mesmerizing.

I love when an author narrates their own story. If done right, it can just breath such energy and authenticity into it. Only they know exactly how their words should be read and wow, Yangsze Choo could be the best I’ve ever heard!!!

I know I am probably forgetting a million things that I wanted to say about this one. The goodness of it all has just zapped thoughts straight out of my brain.

Overall, I found this story to be beautifully-lyrical, fantastical and compelling. I’m so glad that I finally made time for it. I am definitely planning to read more from Yangsze Choo; looking forward to it. I’m a fan!

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Review: Cursed (Gilded #2) by Marissa Meyer

Cursed (Gilded, #2)Cursed by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cursed is the highly-anticipated follow-up to Marissa Meyer’s 2021-release, Gilded. I genuinely love Meyer’s style of writing and her always clever take on classic stories. In my opinion, she’s the queen of retellings.

Because of this, Gilded, pitched as a haunted retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, was one of my most anticipated releases of 2021. Spoiler alert: it did not disappoint!!

Initially, I was under the impression that that was a standalone novel. Reaching the final pages though, it was clear that was not the end of the story.

I have been anticipating this novel, Cursed, ever since.

Following the final scenes of Gilded, Adalheid Castle is in chaos. Serilda has been trapped in a deadly game with the cruel and clever, Erlking, or Alder King.

In a classic power move, the Erlking forces Serilda to become his wife. He’s hoping to be able to use her powers for his own gain. She plays along, mildly, as she has her own agenda going on under the Erlking’s nose; keep your enemies close and all that.

Serilda is determined to help Gild, the mysterious boy who came to her aid in the first book, solve the mystery of his forgotten past.

Meanwhile, the Erlking is plotting revenge against the seven gods who trapped the Dark Ones behind the veil. If he succeeds, it could change the mortal realm forever.

The stakes are high. Can Serilda and Gild figure out how to free themselves from the Erlking’s grasp before the Endless Moon finds them cursed forever?

Y’all, I’m most likely summarizing this very poorly. My apologies for that, but I do not want to give anything away. This is such a fun story to just sit back and watch unfold effortlessly before you.

I think Meyer did an incredible job of building this world, the characters, the lore and the action, oh my goodness! This one had so much action, but most captivating was Serilda’s character arc over the two books.

The conclusion to this couldn’t have been better. It felt so complete; a true 360. I loved sort of the exploration of the idea of what is in a story, folklore, legends that are passed down over generations. Is there truth in them? From where did these legends come?

Overall, this is a fantastic duology for Fairy Tale fans. It has such a classic feel, but is wholly original; great writing and character development.

Additionally, I did listen to the audiobook for both installments, narrated by the always fabulous, Rebecca Soler.

I highly recommend that format for these stories. Soler’s narration style lends itself perfectly to Meyer’s writing. It’s a match made in heaven.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Macmillan Audio, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I’m not sure what is going to come next for Marissa Meyer, but you best believe I’ll be reading it!!

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Review: Final Girls by Mira Grant

Final GirlsFinal Girls by Mira Grant
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Mira Grant’s novella, Final Girls, originally published in 2017 is now being released in audio format.

This story features Dr. Webb, who has created a ground-breaking VR technology that she purports helps clients overcome long-term psychological damage and trauma.

With this process, the clients get taken back to significant times in their lives and run through situations that basically equate to scenes straight out of a horror movie.

I understand the idea to be that the scientists take the clients back to these pivotal moments, break them, shock them so severely, that they are able to rebuild new memories and thus rewire their brains; resetting their psychology.

Another main player in this one is Esther Hoffman, a journalist, who has her own very strong opinions on this type of science.

Esther ends up in Dr. Webb’s lab for a story. She observes a couple of clients running through the process themselves, as well as observing the resulting aftereffects. Then Esther agrees to undergo the treatment herself.

When a real world threat enters the lab during Esther’s scenerio, Esther and Dr. Webb, once on different sides, are suddenly forced together in a fight for survival.

Final Girls explores a unique concept that I was definitely intrigued by. I would definitely pick up a full-length novel tackling these futuristic ideas.

My experience with this story overall, however, can be broken down as follows:

Concept: 4-stars
Plot: 3-stars
Characters: 3-stars
Writing: 5-stars

Mira Grant’s writing is something to experience in and of itself. I love it. Every word carefully placed, themes thoughtfully examined, well-paced and nuanced. I always eat it up.

While I don’t think this story will stick in my memory from now until forever more, I am really glad that I listened to it. The narration was fantastic and it definitely is interesting to think about this type of futuristic therapy.

Thank you to the publisher, Tantor Audio, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I had fun with this one and will continue to pick up any Mira Grant work I can get my hands on!

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