E-Arc Review: If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane

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46650016Title: If I Never Met You
Author: Mhairi McFarlane
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: March 24th, 2020

eARC provided by publisher through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

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f faking love is this easy… how do you know when it’s real?

When her partner of over a decade suddenly ends things, Laurie is left reeling—not only because they work at the same law firm and she has to see him every day. Her once perfect life is in shambles and the thought of dating again in the age of Tinder is nothing short of horrifying. When news of her ex’s pregnant girlfriend hits the office grapevine, taking the humiliation lying down is not an option. Then a chance encounter in a broken-down elevator with the office playboy opens up a new possibility.

Jamie Carter doesn’t believe in love, but he needs a respectable, steady girlfriend to impress their bosses. Laurie wants a hot new man to give the rumor mill something else to talk about. It’s the perfect proposition: a fauxmance played out on social media, with strategically staged photographs and a specific end date in mind. With the plan hatched, Laurie and Jamie begin to flaunt their new couple status, to the astonishment—and jealousy—of their friends and colleagues. But there’s a fine line between pretending to be in love and actually falling for your charming, handsome fake boyfriend…” (Goodreads)

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I was hoping to really enjoy this one. The cover is cute and the premise sounded like something right up my alley. Who doesn’t love fake relationships? There were times that I enjoyed what I was reading and other times where I just wanted to skim.

But, let’s just move right along to the review and start with the characters.

How would you deal with a break-up being 36 years old and having been with that person for 18 years? Laurie gets to face this terrible situation that also gets worse. I really felt for her because I can only imagine being that age and feeling like you have to start completely over. Plus with how dating is now, I would want to start over, ha. She is very independent and strong-willed. I like how she stuck up for herself a lot.

My only complaint with her was how long she wallowed in pity. It lasted for a long time in the beginning of the book and most of first 30% felt like it did a lot of repeating. I think that the book could have been shortened quite a bit early on and it wouldn’t have changed the rest of the book.

Jamie is an okay character. I don’t really think there was anything that made him stand out. He was an average womanizer who decided that he wanted more. Read it before and I just wish there would have been more to him. It probably didn’t help that he was only mentioned a couple times in the first 30% and didn’t have a bigger role until almost halfway through the book.

Besides her ex-boyfriend, the minor characters were very minor. Even her ex-boyfriend at times became very minor once various plot twists were over with. I wish there would have been more from them.

As for the plot, it was decent. There were certain plot twists that surprised me and really intrigued me to keep reading. There were also some plot twists that felt unnecessary and just felt like they were added for the sake of drama. I mean I like drama but it can’t just be all willy nilly. I also wasn’t a fan of the ending. It felt rushed and I absolutely hate rushed endings!

Overall, this book just missed the mark for me as a whole. It was too slow in the beginning to keep my interest and the rest of the book just lacked too much for me to fully enjoy.

Knight of the Silver Circle: E-Arc Review

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43263178Title: Knight of the Silver Circle (Dragonslayer #2)
Author: Duncan M. Hamilton
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Publication Date: November 19th, 2019

eARC provided by publisher through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

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“Three dragons wreak havoc throughout Mirabay–eating livestock, killing humans, and burning entire villages to ash. It was nearly impossible to kill one, using a legendary sword and the magic of the mysterious Cup; to tackle three, Guillot dal Villerauvais will need help.

The mage Solène fears having to kill again; she leaves Gill to gain greater control over her magic.

The Prince Bishop still wants Gill dead, but more than that, he wants the Cup, and he’ll do whatever he has to to get it, even sending his own daughter–a talented thief and assassin–into the dragons’ path.

As secrets mount on secrets and betrayals on betrayals, both Guillot and Solène face critical decisions that will settle not only their own fate but that of all Mirabaya. (Goodreads)

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I read the first of this series in June and you can find that review here. My biggest complaint with the first one was just needing more from everything, especially the characters. I will say that the second book was a bit better but I still had a couple issues.

The first chapter doesn’t waste any time when it comes to pulling you in. I was very impressed and excited to see the dragons introduced straight away.

Just like the first book, this one also has multiple point-of-views. A few of them were from characters introduced in the previous book and the other two are new characters. I am glad that one of the PoVs was from a dragon. That was my favorite part from the first one.

One of the main characters, Guillet, reminded me a lot of Geralt from The Witcher series, especially towards the end due to a couple scenes. I did like him and the other characters a bit more as there was more development. One of the newer characters didn’t have much background and so I am quite curious to see where her story will go. She also is a pretty sneaky assassin and it was fun to read about her.

As for the plot, it was a bit slow at times but it does pick up the farther you get into the book and the ending was a great pay-off. I’m glad that the dragons had a bigger role and it seems they will also be a big part of the third and final book in the series. I am really excited about that. There were a few plot twists and they weren’t obvious like they were in the first book. It was definitely a good improvement and it had me on edge at the ending!

Overall, the series did get better and I am looking forward to reading the final book in this series. The covers are gorgeous and make my love for dragons even stronger.

The Harp of Kings: NetGalley Review

NetGalley Review

 

43316755._SY475_Title: The Harp of Kings (Warrior Bards #1)
Author: Juliet Marillier
Genre: Fantasy
Publication Date: September 3rd, 2019

eARC provided by publisher through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

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Synopsis:Eighteen-year-old Liobhan is a powerful singer and an expert whistle player. Her brother has a voice to melt the hardest heart, and a rare talent on the harp. But Liobhan’s burning ambition is to join the elite warrior band on Swan Island. She and her brother train there to compete for places, and find themselves joining a mission while still candidates. Their unusual blend of skills makes them ideal for this particular job, which requires going undercover as traveling minstrels. For Swan Island trains both warriors and spies.

Their mission: to find and retrieve a precious harp, an ancient symbol of kingship, which has gone mysteriously missing. If the instrument is not played at the upcoming coronation, the candidate will not be accepted and the people could revolt. Faced with plotting courtiers and tight-lipped druids, an insightful storyteller, and a boorish Crown Prince, Liobhan soon realizes an Otherworld power may be meddling in the affairs of the kingdom. When ambition clashes with conscience, Liobhan must make a bold decision and is faced with a heartbreaking choice. . . .” (Goodreads)

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My Review:

I absolutely adore this cover! One of the reasons I decided to read it and also because the synopsis has a way of drawing you in. Although I had a couple issues with the book, it didn’t stop me from really enjoying everything this book had to offer.

The characters in this book are different from each other, flawed, and a couple have quite the character development! The three main characters each have their own point of view and so the chapters are broken up into those. I enjoyed reading through the eyes of Liobhan, Brocc, and Dau.

At the beginning we are introduced to all three as they are learning what it takes to become warriors on an island called Swan Island. Dau isn’t really a fan of either, especially when it comes to Liobhan. He makes it pretty clear they are not equals because she is a woman. I didn’t realize at first he would be give his own chapters and was pretty annoyed by his behavior. Honestly though, I am so glad I was open to his own story because as he shedded his layers he became my favorite of all. He has the most character development and also the hardest job of the mission as he has to pretend to be mute. I mean that takes skill! We learn about his feelings and eventually learn more about his background which is tragic. I felt for him. I would say more but I don’t want to give anything away!

Liobhan and Brocc are brother and sister and that kind of makes them inseparable. Liobhan is strong willed and described as a woman with a big build. I did like that she was different in that aspect. For her role on the mission, she is to be a bard who is shy and intimidated by men of power. Clearly this becomes a problem for her because of her personality and also the fact that she is training to be a warrior. Her mouth and temper, at times, does cause some issues which adds to the plot and makes for some interesting outcomes! I enjoyed getting to know her throughout each chapter.

As for her brother Brocc, he does play a role for the mission but for some of the book he has gone to the Otherworld. If you are a fan of Fae then you would be happy to know that is where they leave. I will say no more than that! Brocc doesn’t have much character development but he does help to finish the mission and is part of such a sad cliffhanger at the end.

When it came to the plot, it was a little slow at first and I would have liked more action but I like how this book was more character driven and you really get to understand the characters and feel for what they have to do. There may be signs of two relationships blooming but nothing ever happens and hopefully we will see more from each in the next book. I wouldn’t say there is really a villain either. There are crow folk that are mentioned and seen a couple times and one guy that is not the greatest who you will dislike but other than that they aren’t really a driving force for the plot. There are a couple plot twists that weren’t surprising but I didn’t mind. The world building was lacking but I found myself not caring so much as the characters really shined throughout each page.

Overall, I liked this book more the farther I got into it and then found it quite hard to put down. If you prefer more action then this book may not be for you but the characters are well written and I am looking forward to seeing where this series takes us!

The Cruel Stars: NetGalley Review

NetGalley Review

 

43093526Title: The Cruel Stars
Author: John Birmingham
Genre: Sci-Fi
Publication Date: Aug. 20th, 2019

eARC provided by publisher through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

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Synopsis: “The galaxy was once terrorized by the Sturm, a group of “species purists” intent on destroying any human with genetic or cybernetic enhancements. Fashioning themselves as the one true “Human Republic,” the Sturm cut a bloody swath across the stars, killing billions before finally being defeated and driven into the far reaches of Dark Space. Centuries of peace bred complacency. Everyone believed the Sturm had died out in the Dark. They were wrong.

The enemy has returned and, with a brutal and decisive attack, knocks out almost all of humanity’s defenses. Now on the brink of annihilation, humankind’s only hope is a few brave souls who survived the initial attack: Commander Lucinda Hardy, thrust into uncertain command of the Royal Armadalen Navy’s only surviving warship. Booker3, a soldier of Earth, sentenced to die for treason, whose time on death row is cut short when the Sturm attack his prison compound. Princess Alessia, a young royal of the Montanblanc Corporation, forced to flee when her home planet is overrun and her entire family executed. Sephina L’trel, the leader of an outlaw band who must call on all of her criminal skills to resist the invasion. And, finally, Admiral Frazer McLennan, the infamous hero of the first war with the Sturm hundreds of years ago, who hopes to rout his old foes once and for all–or die trying.

These five flawed, reluctant heroes must band together to prevail against a relentless enemy and near-impossible odds. For if they fail, the future itself is doomed.”

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My Review:

Here’s the thing, I don’t know if it was just me but I just couldn’t get into this book like I wanted. The synopsis sounded fantastic and the cover is amazing but it just didn’t live up to the ideals in my head.

I am usually one that loves multiple point of views but it was hard to follow along in this particular book. I didn’t find myself connecting with the characters or feeling interested in their lives or their quest to save earth. It didn’t feel like they had much character development. The characters were just thrown at us from the beginning with not a lot to go off of.

The plot was interesting for the most part and had a few surprises I wasn’t expecting. That is always a plus. We get to glimpse at the invaders ideology and what drives them. To them, they are just doing what they think is right. Although there is quite a bit of action packed scenes, at times the pacing slowed down. This also happens more often in the later part of the book as well.

One thing I did enjoy was the comic relief. Even though things are going wrong and there is a lot of gore to be seen, the characters find time to joke or mention Lord of the Rings. It adds a nice touch and makes the story a bit lighter at times.

Overall, I wish I had liked it more but I know that others will enjoy this book even if I didn’t.

Gods of Jade and Shadow: NetGalley Review

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36510722Title: Gods of Jade and Shadow
Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction/Sci-fi/Fantasy
Publication Date: July 23rd, 2019

eARC provided by publisher through NetGalley. All Opinions are my own.

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Synopsis: “The Mayan god of death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this dark, one-of-a-kind fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore.

“Simultaneously heartbreaking and heart-mending, Gods of Jade and Shadow is a wondrous and magical tale about choosing our own path.”—Kevin Hearne, New York Times bestselling author of The Iron Druid Chronicles

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.

Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.

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My Review: 

I was really excited to dive into this book because of its take on Mexican folklore. It is an uncommon one to be written about. It also being in the Jazz Age was another plus for me! If those two things haven’t convinced you then look at that gorgeous cover! The colors are everything.

The plot, of course, is full of Mexican folklore that weaves itself into a unique and attention grabbing fantasy. The main character, Casiopea, is on a quest to help the god of death take back his throne from his brother.

Casiopea is far from being a pushover and even when certain circumstances arise with Hun-Kamé (god of death), she still holds her ground and does it the way she wants to. I loved her character and the attitude she brought along with teaching him a thing or two about human emotions. As for Hun-Kamé, he is stubborn, hard-headed, and sometimes just doesn’t get it. I mean, he is a a god after all. He grows on you throughout the course of the book and I loved his character development.

The romance in this book was one that I found myself enjoying because it didn’t just occur out of the blue. There was build-up and that is something I tend to need to make it more believable.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and hope others will enjoy it as much as I have! If you are a fan of folklore, definitely check this one out!

This Is How You Lose the Time War: ARC Mini Review

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36516585._SX318_.jpgTitle: This Is How You Lose the Time War
Author: Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
Genre: LGBT Science Fiction/Fantasy
Publication Date: July 16th, 2019

Arc was provided by publisher through a giveaway. All opinions are my own.

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Synopsis: “Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading.

And thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more.

Except discovery of their bond would be death for each of them. There’s still a war going on, after all. And someone has to win that war. That’s how war works. Right?” (Goodreads)

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My Review:

This was a very quick read and the writing style was different and one that I haven’t come across yet. Although it was unique, I’m not sure that I liked it all that well.

The book has two point of views, Red and Blue. They are both on opposite sides of the war and so their communication is done through letters. The letters were interesting to read and in the beginning were filled with banter. As the book progresses, their relationship dynamic changes and so the feelings in the letters change as well. There are also small little chapters of them seeing each other in different time periods which was pretty interesting.

Overall, the book is more poetic/centered around a relationship than I would have liked which I think takes away from the sci-fi aspect, at least for me anyways. Either way it was still a decent read!

Milady: NetGalley Review

 

NetGalley Review

 

41642752Title: Milady
Author: Laura L. Sullivan
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: July 2nd, 2019

eARC provided by publisher through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

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Synopsis: “I’ve gone by many names though you know me as Milady de Winter: Villainess, seductress, a secondary player in The Three Musketeers story.

But we all know history was written by men, and they so often get things wrong.

So before you cast judgment, let me tell you of how a girl from the countryside became the most feared woman in all of Europe. A target for antipathy, a name whispered in fear or loathing.

I don’t need you to like me. I just need to be free.

It’s finally time I tell my own story. The truth isn’t tidy or convenient, but it’s certainly more interesting.”

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My Review:

The premise seemed to be different than the book and its hard to enjoy it when they don’t seem to coincide. It took longer for me to get through this book since there was no real connection for me to the plot or the characters. I wanted to enjoy this one but for reasons, I couldn’t.

When it came to Milady, she did a lot of vile things but at the same time she also blamed it on others and love. She also seemed to have multiple personalities and I am not sure if one was for show or not. I had a hard time connecting with her and that always plays a huge role in grabbing my attention for the book as a whole. I can’t say that I was interested in any of the other characters and some didn’t have much background or a lot of character development.

The writing style was one that I was not fond of. At times the narrative seemed to switch from past to present within the same chapter and it made for quite a confusing read. The plot was somewhat interesting but still needed something and it didn’t grasp my attention. There were certain scenes that also rubbed me the wrong way early on in the book and could also be another reason I couldn’t get into it. Although it was quite creative and had a strong female character, it just wasn’t for me.

Overall, it is another case of the, “its me, not you”. I know others will find this book to be wonderful. So like always, take my review with a grain of salt.

Dragonslayer: NetGalley Review

NetGalley Review

 

40045978Title: Dragonslayer
Author: Duncan M. Hamilton
Genre: Fantasy
Publication Date: July 2nd, 2019

eARC provided by publisher through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

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Synopsis: “Once a member of the King’s personal guard, Guillot dal Villevauvais spends most days drinking and mourning his wife and child. He’s astonished—and wary—when the Prince Bishop orders him to find and destroy a dragon. He and the Prince Bishop have never exactly been friends and Gill left the capital in disgrace five years ago. So why him? And, more importantly, how is there a dragon to fight when the beasts were hunted to extinction centuries ago by the ancient Chevaliers of the Silver Circle?

On the way to the capitol city, Gill rescues Solène, a young barmaid, who is about to be burned as a witch. He believes her innocent…but she soon proves that she has plenty of raw, untrained power, a problem in this land, where magic is forbidden. Yet the Prince Bishop believes magic will be the key to both destroying the dragon and replacingthe young, untried King he pretends to serve with a more pliable figurehead.
Between Gill’s rusty swordsmanship and Solene’s unstable magic, what could go wrong?” (Goodreads)

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My Review:

Okay, can we just take a moment to appreciate this gorgeous cover? The dragon looks epic and I absolutely love it! Its one thing that drew me in along with the synopsis and of course, the title. Although I liked the idea of this book, it just felt lackluster to me.

The book is written with multiple point of views. Usually I enjoy it because it adds to the characters and their development throughout the story. I didn’t feel that it added it much to the characters as much as I would have liked. My favorite point of view was from the dragon, Alpheratz. It was a great detail that I have not seen before.

The main character Guillet was interesting and had a harsh background. Since he was a drunk, he took everything so lightly at times. He was always calm and collected through the bad and I loved his character. I found myself laughing at a few of his lines.

When it came to the other characters, they were just okay. They added to the plot but at times it felt like they knew things about the other characters plans without any context. Maybe I missed it. I also felt like some of the characters weren’t as developed as others and when it came to connecting with them it just wasn’t there.

The plot was good but I love plot twists and all were quite obvious minus one. I wish there would have been more from the dragon. The ending felt very anti-climatic and didn’t appeal to me. The author did set it up for a second book but it wasn’t a major cliffhanger that makes me want the second book instantly.

Overall, I just wanted more. I am hoping there will be more character development and more world building in the second book.

 

Twice the Demise: Book Review

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44447326Title: Twice the Demise
Author: Maureen Joseph
Genre: Gothic Romance

Thank you spotlight.tours and author for the review copy! All opinions are my own.

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Synopsis:Polly Deuce is not your average undertaker. She loves MP3 players and is somewhat a luddite. She lived a non-eventful life in her little goth bubble till her childhood best friend, Michael Nabakov, turned her world upside down. For many years, he had managed to keep his identity and motives under wraps. Polly is caught between her guilt with the familiarity of Michael’s presence and a strange yearning for his dark pursuer.”

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My Review:

This book really surprised me and I found myself having a hard time putting it down! The characters didn’t have too much development but I feel that the book was more plot driven than anything. Which, I didn’t mind at all. They were still interesting to read about.

The only issue I had was the writing style. I had a hard time getting into it but since I was enjoying the plot I pushed myself to get past it.

Overall, the plot was dark, intriguing, and that ending was intense! If you are into gothic romance then definitely check this book out!

The Poison Thread: NetGalley Review

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Title: The Poison Thread
Author: Laura Purcell
Genre: Historical Fiction/Gothic Horror
Publication Date: June 18th, 2019

eARC provided by publisher through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

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Synopsis: “Dorothea Truelove is young, wealthy, and beautiful. Ruth Butterham is young, poor, and awaiting trial for murder.

When Dorothea’s charitable work brings her to Oakgate Prison, she is delighted by the chance to explore her fascination with phrenology and test her hypothesis that the shape of a person’s skull can cast a light on their darkest crimes. But when she meets one of the prisoners, the teenaged seamstress Ruth, she is faced with another strange idea: that it is possible to kill with a needle and thread–because Ruth attributes her crimes to a supernatural power inherent in her stitches.

The story Ruth has to tell of her deadly creations–of bitterness and betrayal, of death and dresses–will shake Dorothea’s belief in rationality, and the power of redemption. Can Ruth be trusted? Is she mad, or a murderer? The Poison Thread is a spine-tingling, sinister read about the evil that lurks behind the facade of innocence.” (Goodreads)

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My Review:

I had such high hopes for this book ever since I laid eyes on the cover and read the synopsis. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint! If I hadn’t been so busy with what life requires of me I would have read this in one sitting.

Dorothea is an interesting character because she loves studying phrenology and goes to a prison to interview female murderers. I enjoyed her character because she goes against the grain when it comes to societal behavior for women of that era. She thinks for her own and doesn’t listen to her father, especially when he says no talk about her work to suitors.

Ruth’s story was intriguing and disturbing at the same time. Her life was far from easy and at times when you thought it was getting better a dark cloud comes. I wanted to know more and more about her life as I read each page and felt like Dorothea, questioning everything I had read. Ruth felt so innocent and yet mad but who really knows since all murderers seem innocent at times. I am still trying to grasp my thoughts around the ending!

Dorothea and Ruth each have their own chapters which let you dive into their lives and understand their characters on a deeper level. The plot is always thickening and when you think you know the answer, another plot twist comes out of nowhere and leaves you in shock. The minor characters will have you hating some and loving others. They may be considered minor but add to the plot in such a way that they don’t seem minor at all.

The Victorian England setting was great and the details of sicknesses and even phrenology brought more to the story and added a great historical touch.

Overall, I really loved this dark and disturbing book filled with rich characters and a wonderfully crafted plot. It will have you on your seat and trying to find out the truth for yourself!