Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Siege and Storm for me is hard to rate. On the one hand, I am loving this GrishaVerse trilogy overall so far. I think that the world building is good, the characters are well-built, and the overall story line is really great.

35529904I still am not all that impressed with Alina as a main character and heroine. To me she is just okay. She doesn’t do anything that really annoys me–she’s not a whiner or a weakling, but she isn’t particularly brave or outgoing or really trying to go anywhere either. She’s just….there. And, of course, all of the boys like her. So then there’s the boys. In book one, I thought Mal was also pretty useless. The first half of this book, he was still pretty useless. Finally, though, he started to show some personality and some life so maybe Mal can actually be a contender! We meet Nikolai in this book and he completely steals the show. Nikolai I love. I mean, how can one not love this guy?! And then, of course, there’s the Darkling. *swoon* He isn’t in this book as much but he’s still as dark and alluring as always.

Aside from the characters, I felt like the plot moved way slow in this installment as well. We saw some action in the beginning, and then really nothing for a long time. The gang sat in waiting (or did some travelling) for the majority of the book with a couple little rifts in the middle, or maybe a couple little discoveries along the way, and one big skirmish at the end….and then the book is over. Maybe that’s how most books are but I expected so much more out of this one!!

So that is my take on book 2 of the Shadow and Bone trilogy from the GrishaVerse. Of course, by the end of the book, I’m left SO ready to go into book 3 but if I go straight into it, I will have a book hangover so bad! So I’m going to wait at least another week until I start the third book. But I will be back for more. Stay tuned!

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Book Soundtrack: “Undefeatable” by Young Rising Sons

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Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics, and Pesky Poltergeists

Hi everyone! Sorry I’m slow this month so far. Big things are happening in my life, from planning my wedding, which is coming up in September, to hopefully starting up a little business with my fiancee to raise some extra income for said wedding! Needless to say these things take up loads of time when I’m already working a full-time and a part-time job! But I’m still reading as much as I can and Bookstagramming when I can and (obviously) blogging whenever I can. So here goes!

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Just in case you didn’t know, there are three Pottermore collections of short stories by J.K. Rowling:

  • #1: Heroism, Hardship, and Dangerous Hobbies
  • #2: Power, Politics, and Pesky Poltergeists
  • #3: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide

I read them out of sequence (if there is a proper sequence…I don’t think there really is, even though they technically are numbered), and read the first one first, followed by the incomplete and unreliable guide, and I just now finished the second book. There wasn’t a real reason or logic as to why I did this, I just opened them up one at a time at random on my iPad. I finished book 1 in November of 2016 and gave it 4 stars, writing that “I liked it but…I wish it was more narrative than encyclopedic.” Book 3 I thought I remembered liking less than book 1 but I gave it 5 stars so apparently not. I even wrote that its “my favorite one so far” and that I “love all the info!” Guess I need a re-read!!

As for book number 2, Power, Politics, and Pesky Poltergeists, I also gave this 5 stars. From what I remember of the other two books, I am pretty sure I felt this one was the best formatted. I thought the chapters were longer and held more information and were more story-like. I absolutely love backstories and side characters which means that these little books were practically made for me!

I really enjoyed all of the tidbits, from the good characters whom I like such as Slughorn to the topics that I find interesting like the Ministers for Magic, and even the evillest of evil: Umbridge herself. She, too, has an interesting background. Plus, of course, there is more than what I have mentioned here and there are more quips and FYI’s thrown around…I always love reading about how Rowling came up with this name or that place or bla bla bla. Its all fascinating to me and if these tiny 75-page tidbits were 10x bigger, I would still devour them and recommend them to you all!

Listening to: “Obliviate” from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 Soundtrack

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Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Wow. Just wow.

So first of all, my surprise comes because I was not a big fan of Carry On. It was my first Rainbow Rowell read and I felt like there was so much hype around it. I gave it 3.5 stars and just didn’t get into it. I expected all this world-building and excitement like Harry Potter because I heard it was moderately based/inspired by HP and it was sort of fan fic of HP and it was very, very different from it.

fangirlHere I am a year and a half later giving Rainbow Rowell another shot because its almost Valentines day and I’m trying to read books that I have for a challenge and my edition is pink and what the hell? I’ll give RR another chance. Well surprise, surprise. I freakin’ LOVE this book!! Cath is totally me my first year away at college. I would have rather starved than ask strangers where the cafeteria was! ha! I was shy and awkward and classes and just about anything specifically college-related intimidated the crap out of me. Oh, and “freshman time.” Yeah, that was definitely a thing.

tumblr_mti8miwcni1qhz2h3o1_1280The only things that I didn’t appreciate in this book were Cath’s stubbornness (aka stupidness) about her writing project and the ending. I felt too empty at the end. Where is book 2?!?! There is so much detail in every other aspect of the book! There were so many other conflicts that occurred in the book where it felt like “Oh, after this happens and gets resolves, the book could end”….oh but wait, the book still has 225 pages yet. I’m not done!! So that was nice, but then we finally do get to the end and I don’t feel resolved hardly at all! Its not a cliffhanger by any means, but its not exactly a neat little bow either. Its just an ambiguously wrapped gift without a label or a ribbon or a tag or a bow. So that’s my little schpiel on all of that!

In the end, I’m coming away with Levi being one of my absolute favorite book boyfriends. I’m not usually the nice guy book BF type, but somehow the guy just had me under his spell and swooning. I loved all of the characters and I really appreciated the college setting. Great read overall–I’m so glad I gave Rainbow Rowell another shot!

Listening to: “Paranoid” by Kanye West

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A List of Cages by Robin Roe

Hi friends! Hope you all had a good weekend full of many pages of reading! Throughout this week I finished reading the graphic novel of A Wrinkle in Time, made progress on Siege and Storm, as well as finished A List of Cages in its entirety. There have been several bookish chats going on, as well as readathons and I hope some of you have been able to get out there and take part.

ALOCSo here is something I have learned about myself within the past couple weeks: stay away from reviews and past biases when going into a new book. These things  may have hurt my opinion on both of my last two reads. For example, in A List of Cages, I read on review where a blogger said it was the kind of book that stays with you and I just love books like that. It had a higher rating than another book that I was considering reading. So for those reasons, I chose this book over the other one. Based on the synopses, I wasn’t necessarily more interested in this book than the other, but like I said, a “book that stays with you”? SOLD!! Now I read it, it was good but I don’t think that I was fully swept away or anything.

It is pretty much A List of Cage‘s one year anniversary, I just noticed! It was released last January. The book is written in alternating POV’s between Adam, a popular senior with ADHD, and Julian, a quiet, insecure orphaned freshman. When Adam is assigned to escort Julian to the school psychologist, the two guys are reunited as former foster brothers. Of course, the two growing closer together means learning secrets about one another, and Julian has plenty of those. He just needs a friend with the courage to give him the help he needs to get through it.

simson-petrol-110900I did enjoy this book. There were a few moments where I literally said “AWW!” out loud and my heart melted a bit. There were a few moments where my heart hurt and I felt overwhelmed for the characters. Really, though, it was the characters that made this book. I’m just going to stick to the main characters, but know that the secondary characters are even extremely supportive of Julian and have growth throughout the book. Julian is a character who is a bit immature in how he acts–i.e. what he reads, how he writes, how he reads, etc. but is this because of trauma and his living situation? This is discussed a bit in the book and its a hard topic. Overall, he says genuine things to people around him without even realizing it and it really reaches them. Then there is Adam. Adam is described as “untouchable.” If something sad were to happen, his friends think he would still be happy. Adam is an absolute sweetheart and he is very loyal to his friends and to his own mom as well.

Overall, I felt that this was a really good YA contemporary involving mental health issues, close friends, family, and courage. And on that note, I need to leave you with this quote from the book:

“Hate ricochets, but kindness does too.” – Robin Roe

Book soundtrack: “Be My Escape” by Relient K

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A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel

13513205I have bad news, my friends. I have a relatively negative review to write. Now, I have to say that it has been a while since I read the original A Wrinkle in Time book by Madeline L’Engle. I know I have read it twice….once when I was quite young, and once when I was in my early 20’s? So maybe 5 or so years ago? So maybe my details are foggy but I feel I am generously giving this book a rating of “2 stars” simply because it is A Wrinkle in Time. Ever since I heard about this graphic novel three or four years ago, I wanted to read this one and man, am I disappointed. My mom loved the original book as a child and I remember reading it with her when I was young. I am pretty sure my Goodreads rating for the actual book is 5 STARS!….so where did this graphic novel go wrong?? What is the movie going to be like?!?!
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So now I am confused and concerned. I guess I need to re-read the actual book and have a refresher. All I know is that the graphic novel was, in my opinion, awful. For starters, I absolutely HATED Meg. She was/is a TERRIBLE character. Charles Wallace also is a MOSTLY awful character. In my opinion, the only redeeming character in the book is Cal, who is a tertiary character. The Mrs. Witches are so vague (just like in the book) and they stay extremely vague in the graphic novel. Meg/CW’s dad is pretty much useless. And the book’s resolution contains no answers. Just a big POOF! pretty much! But now that I have read this, I feel ready to read on in the series I think? Or maybe I’ll just read the actual novel and refresh my brain and reassure myself that the series is worth its grain of salt. I’m questioning my own opinion!! Yikes!!

Book Soundtrack: “Day One” from Interstellar by Hans Zimmer

Tag Tuesday!: Bookish Scenarios

This week I’m going to go a tag called *Bookish Scenarios*! I found this one on YouTube from a vlogger named Katytastic. These questions come with a warning, and I quote: “These questions will be the death of [you]!” Well, here we go!

THE SCENARIOS

1. You have to get rid of all your books and you can only keep one from each of these genres – contemporary, fantasy, non-fiction and one other genre of your choosing. What books do you keep?
The Light We Lost (C), Cress from The Lunar Chronicles (F), Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham (NF), The Hunger Games (YA).

2. You’re at the bookstore and you hear a teenager telling their mom they don’t like to read, but their mom insists they pick something. You walk over and recommend a book you think is great for people who aren’t big on reading – what book is it?
Flat Out Love. I remember that book as being relatable and absolutely EXTRAORDINARY!

3. You’re not feeling yourself and need a pick me up. Which book do you read to put yourself in a great mood?
Any Harry Potter book!

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4. You go back in time for a day to your teenage years. What book would you most likely have caught yourself reading?
Harry Potter, something by Laurell K Hamilton or Lurlene McDaniel.

5. Your friend surprises you with a 4 day trip and you have 1 hour to pack. Which book do you bring to read on the way?
My iPad–its got it all!!

6. Your house has been robbed! Don’t worry – everyone is safe, but your bookshelf has been raided. What’s the book you really hope is safe?
My Harry Potter collection. I have worked really hard on all of that!! All of those different editions…and that’s not even to mention the Pops and the candles and the other merch!

7. Your friend borrows a book and returns it in awful condition. Do you a) Just pretend you haven’t noticed b) Ask them to repurchase it or c) Secretly do the same to something of theirs.
I definitely hint about it and probably whine and mention it until they figure out that they need to repurchase it for me. Ruining my property…especially my precious baby–I mean, book!–is unacceptable!

So if you follow my blog you know how I do tags. Basically if you’re reading this, I’m hereby tagging YOU to answer these questions next. Have fun and goodluck!

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Tag Tuesday: The Winter Tag

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I’m going off of Danielle at The Introverted Book Nerd‘s tag.

THE RULES:

  1. Share 12 random facts about yourself.
  2. Answer the 12 questions.
  3. Tag 12 bloggers.

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12 RANDOM FACTS:

  1. I am a virgo.
  2. I am not a big fan of chocolate. I prefer peanut butter. 😉
  3. I love baseball.
  4. I tend to read anywhere from 2-4 books at the same time.
  5. Titanic is one of my favorite movies of all time.
  6. When I read hard-cover books, I remove dust jackets so they don’t get torn or dirty.
  7. I love dogs but am very allergic to cats.
  8. I have a Bachelors degree in vocal music and am a classically trained singer.
  9. I teach voice lessons to kids and adults.
  10. I also work at a hospital with medical records.
  11. I used to work at a summer camp.
  12. But my first job was at a bowling alley.

THE QUESTIONS:

What are your favorite things about Winter?

Ok, I’m very conflicted about winter. I love looking at snow but I hate driving and walking on snow. The coziness of being inside in front of a fire or near lit candles or a Christmas tree, nestled in a blanket with a book and a blanket and a warm drink…this is the best part of winter. Being inside and not having to go anywhere. Its a different aesthetic and feeling than in the warmer months.

What is your favorite Winter outfit?

Warm, flannel-ish, loose pajama pants with a big t-shirt and zip-up fleece or hoodie. Basically the bigger and baggier the better. So cozy!

What is your favorite Winter food?

Either chili or broccoli cheese soup!

What is your favorite Winter drink?

Hot cocoa with mini marshmallows!!

What is your dream way to spend a Winters day?

Staying home all day with a book, my big cozy pajamas, a soft blanket, a window seat with snowflakes, and a bottomless mug of hot cocoa with marshmallows. Bliss!

How do you like to do your makeup in the Winter?

Nothing changes make-up-wise. Just the scent of my body wash and spray. Right now I have a chocolate-mint smelling like set. Its yummy and refreshing!

What are you hoping Santa brings you?

Oh, Santa already came and it was glorious! 😀

What are the first three things that remind you of Winter?

Christmas, Santa, snow

What is your favorite Winter song?

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

What is your favorite Winter memory.

My younger days of holiday magic before I was responsible for holiday planning and cooking and hosting Christmas dinners and driving here and there. I miss going to bed for Santa and waking up to tinsel on the tree.

What is your favorite Winter scent?

Some magical mix of pine and citrus and cranberry.

Finish this sentence…If I could have anything this Christmas it would be…

getting my wedding paid for.

And so with that, I hereby tag YOU if you are reading this and have not yet done this tag! All you have to do is copy and paste the format (12 facts + the 12 questions + tag 12 people) onto your blog and go forth!! I’m hoping spring is around the corner here so hopefully we can cease the winter tags soon. 😉

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#blogmas Wrap-up … 2017 Grand Finale … December 31st

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And so, my friends, as both December and 2017 wind down, its time to begin wrapping things up and take a look back at the month and the year. I mad a big push for the end this month since I knew I wasn’t close to hitting my reading goal, but at the same time, I must take a step back to look also at quality and not just quantity. This is the first year that I would say I was choosing and reading books that I truly wanted to read and wasn’t just being guided by Goodreads challenges that I was participating in. That being said, however, my wallet suffered a little more than I would like because of sub boxes and support of other amazing small shops. But all in all it was totally worth it because this was such a monumental year for me book-wise. I made new bookish friends, met some amazing authors, and of course read some amazing books! So without further ado, here’s some 2017 reflections:

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Number Of Books You Read: 84
Number of Re-Reads: 2
Genre You Read The Most From: YA, contemporary, mystery/thriller

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1. Best Book You Read In 2017?

Either The Hate U Give or The Light We Lost. Two very different books, but both so very good and very memorable.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Carnivalesque. I thought this was going to live up to standards set by many other circus-like books that have been coming out (The Night Circus, Caraval, etc.).

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?

Definitely The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana. I noticed that her first book got an ok star rating on Goodreads so when I was gifted an ARC of her second book, my hopes weren’t all that high. However, I was BLOWN. AWAY!!!

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

Oooh, good question. Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh. It has a unique setting back in the Ice Age and I had several comments and likes about that.

 5. Best series you started in 2017? Best Sequel of 2017? Best Series Ender of 2017?

Best Series Started: The Grisha Trilogy!
Best Sequel: The Rose and the Dagger
Best Series Ender: Winter by Marissa Meyer

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2017?

Well, I read my first new stories by Gillian Flynn and Fredrick Backman. I don’t know if I am ready to call them favorite authors, but they are popular authors, and I will definitely read more from them in the future!

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

I read (listened to) a couple of biographies this year but I most enjoyed Lauren Graham’s Talking as Fast as I Can. I listened to the audiobook and I highly recommend it!

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Wires & Nerve was unputdownable for me. Not necessarily for the ‘action’ of it, but just because I am, apparently, addicted to this series and this book (graphic novel) is so hilarious and appealing to me that I just couldn’t put it down! I can’t wait for number 2 to release at the end of January!!

 9. Book You Read In 2017 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined because the book was so beautiful and I related to it on so many levels. However, the book was heartbreaking so perhaps not…but it was just SO BEAUTIFUL (can you tell it was one of my 5* reads for the year?).

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2017?
34058936The Goblins of Bellwater was a great book with a really vivid cover. It has details that I keep picking up on each time I look at it. I love covers like that!! I really enjoyed reading this one as a NetGalley ARC and I definitely recommend giving it a try sometime. Though it has bright flowers on the cover, it works as a winter read too, for those of you who like to read seasonally (I know I do).

 

 

 

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1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2017?

I think all of them, because I don’t think I have ever really ‘followed’ blogs before, only clicked on them randomly when I needed something. Now I actually consider them friends and check/follow them regularly!

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2017?

Either my review of Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined or The Goblins of Bellwater. Everything Beautiful… because that was a book that I really connected with on many personal levels so that was a very personal review for me to write. Bellwater because that review was one that got back to the author and she really liked it and reached out to me personally and it triggered a really cool conversation and I’m very proud of that.

3. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

Either #blogmas because it was very healthy for my blog traffic and for myself to write that frequently OR attending ALA in Chicago and getting a whole pile of new ARCS as well as spending time with bookish friends. That was a huge win for me!

4. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2017?
Starting this new blog and keeping it up! The networking with you wonderful readers has been humbling and nothing gets done without friends and followers so its really thanks to people like you for keeping this all going!

5. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
NetGalley and Bookstagram.


So that’s all I’ve got for now. New Years celebrations are beckoning me. I admit that I did shorten these questionnaires a bit due to time constraints, but I think we all have the idea. I hope that all of you have a safe and happy New Years celebration. I will see you all again in 2018!!

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#blogmas day 29: The Afterlife of Holly Chase

Greetings everyone! I hope you’re all doing well! I’m not. My fiance has gotten me sick, unfortunately. I have just about the worst chest cough I have ever had in my life. I don’t know if its bronchitis or just a really awful cold/flu symptom but its miserable! I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone! Anyway, I hope the rest of you are healthy!

33843251So back to books. The good thing (and only good thing) about being ill is that it allows you a little extra time to read. So as you can maybe tell from the blog this week, I have posted more reviews than is typical, so I’m happy about that! As of now, I just finished The Afterlife of Holly Chase. I had never heard of this book before, but I had heard of Cynthia Hand. Plus I liked the simplistic, holiday cover and was aching for a YA holiday read and figured “This might be the Christmas read for me!” So I bought it! And I liked it!

Main character Holly Chase is a bratty, spoiled, mean, rich girl. She hates Christmas, she loves herself, she has no regard for other people….you guessed it, she’s a Scrooge. Scrooge number….sorry, I would have to look up her exact Scrooge number in history. If you read the book, you’ll see what I mean. *wink* So anyway, as you can predict at this point, Holly is visited by three ghosts intending to show her her selfish ways but she FAILS! And she dies. (Just for the record, this isn’t a spoiler. This is all in the synopsis so its fair game here.)

Here’s where things get interesting. Holly finds herself employed at a top secret agency called Project Scrooge, an agency whose goal it is to save one soul each year on Christmas Eve. As a former, failed Scrooge herself, she now gets to rehabilitate as the Ghost of Christmas Past, each year working with the team at Project Scrooge to help a new Scrooge succeed where she failed. This story picks up on her sixth year at the agency when Holly is in for a big surprise: for the first time, the Scrooge the team will be working on is a hottie! I’ll let you read the rest for yourself.

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I found Holly to be an okay character. She was definitely what a Scrooge needed to be. Ethan was a little too easy of a character to me. He was described as being so Scrooge-y, and he “had so much in common with Holly,” but then when they were together they clicked so well, I expected him to be way more of a snob considering she seemed to have given up on herself so much as a “ghost.” I thought Scrooges were Scrooge-y to everyone by nature. Apparently not in that world. Besides the main characters, there is a case of side characters who are pretty ok. They really don’t get a lot of spotlight, but when they are around, usually they boost the story for the better.

91gzci2be0el-_sl1500_I really liked to set-up of the book and the “Project Scrooge” concept. It actually reminded me of the movie ‘Scrooged’ with Bill Murray! Cynthia Hand really knows how to tug heartstrings and get readers sentimental, I’ll tell you, because there were several times in the book where I had to reach for the tissue box. Yes, this book has its cliche Christmas moments of museum dates, Dickens quotes, ugly sweaters, holiday parties, etc. etc. But y’all, its a Christmas book. Scratch that. Its a YA Christmas book! If you can’t handle that, then don’t read it. I needed some Christmas Carol re-telling in my life this year and this was perfect. Thank you, author. And with that being said….God bless us, every one! 😛

Book Soundtrack: “God Bless Us Everyone” by Andrea Bocelli ((I will be choosing something more character-Holly appropriate later on…my Spotify isn’t working at the moment))

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On the 28th day of #blogmas: And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer

I think that in some way, whether big or small, every single person can relate to this short 96-page story. Therefore, be ready for heartache. I won’t even say cry necessarily, though many readers say that they shed tears over this story. Of course it depends on your opinion and your experience. But oh, is there ache in this book. This was my first time reading anything by Fredrik Backman but it seems like his books are everywhere these days. If all of his writings are this heartfelt, then I can see why they are so popular!
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And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer is about a grandfather who, coming to the end of his life, begins confusing his son with his grandson. His once brilliant mind is still filled with thoughts of love for his beautiful wife, of constellations in the sky, the power of mathematics, and stories of his family. Each day he comes to fear more and more losing these memories, but the words he uses to describe them are so poetic and wise they move us all as an audience.

The only reason I didn’t give this novella 5 full stars is because sometimes it was just so whimsical that I just didn’t know where we were. I suppose that was maybe the point–we were supposed to feel like we were floating around in grandfather’s mind?? Lost in the memories?? Lost in space? In dimensia?? But it became a little too abstract in those moments to me. I like my feet firmly in a storyline. Other than that, the book was all but perfect to me. The characters, the heart in the story, the vivid memories, and the writing were all absolutely beautiful.

Book Soundtrack: “The Prayer” by Josh Groban and Charlotte Church

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