Friendships, Family, Food & Diversity | The Inexplicable Logic of My Life REVIEW

Hello and happy slightly-belated book birthday to this novel! I hope you’re all doing well. ❤ I wanted to have this review up yesterday when it was released, but unfortunately, life got in the way.

But anyway! It’s been a long time since I read something like this book. It was a really nice read. I finished it pretty quickly, as well, considering the fact that it had a very slow paced plot. But, despite the plot, what I loved most was the characters and how it focused on them. That was what made this book so wonderful to read. Although, the general consensus around this book according to other bloggers is that Aristotle and Dante was better–I can’t vouch for this, personally, as I have never read it, but if you have read Aristotle and Dante and loved it, your best bet is probably to go into this one with lowered expectations. Let’s just get into the full review, shall we?

Disclaimer: I received an e-ARC thanks to Netgalley for review purposes! ❤ All opinions are my own. Oh, and all quotes mentioned are retrieved from the ARC, and may be changed in the final copy. Just a sidenote! 

the-inexplicable-logic-of-my-lifeThe Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Publication Date: March 7th 2017
Publisher: Clarion Books
Genre(s): Contemporary, Young-Adult
Series Status: N/A–Stand Alone
Page Count: 464
Source & Format: Netgalley eARC

Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the multi-award-winning author of Aristotle and Dante Discover, the Secrets of the Universe comes a gorgeous new story about love, identity, and families lost and found.

Sal used to know his place with his adoptive gay father, their loving Mexican-American family, and his best friend, Samantha. But it’s senior year, and suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and realizing he no longer knows himself. If Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he?

This humor-infused, warmly humane look at universal questions of belonging is a triumph.

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There were actually multiple mentions of food and TACOS in this book as well… Aka I am very hungry right now.

Features an AMAZING fictional father

“He said, ‘Every time I look into your blue eyes. Every time I hear you laugh. Every day, when I hear your voice, I thank God for you. Yeah, Salvador, I believe in God.'”  

I’m not exaggerating when I say that Sal’s father, Vicente Silva, is one of the best fictional fathers I have ever seen. He was an amazing father who had such a deep bond with not only his son, but everyone around him, and that was so beautiful. He was there for Sal the whole time, for Sal’s best friend Sam, for their new friend Fito. He was there for each and every single one of them, offering them comfort and discipline. And love, my god, so much love. My heart hurts from how much I loved his love for everyone. He shows strength, in who he is, who he believes, what he does, in everything he does but still had fears and uncertainty just like every person. His and Sal’s and his and Sam’s moments were truly amazing, along with pretty much everyone else he met. I’m not exaggerating at all when I say he truly is a notable father–and a notable person–that deserves all the recognition it can get. Because fathers like these, in novels? A rare gem. 

“I happen to be gay. I don’t think that makes me a faggot. I’m also a Mexican American. I don’t think that makes me a taco bender. I don’t think that makes a beaner. I don’t think that makes me a spic. And I don’t think that makes me an illegal.” 

CAN SOMEONE GIVE THIS MAN AN AWARD PLEASE?

No romance, but lots of love.

Apologies to all romance lovers out there! No romance in this one, but that was one of its strong points. I’ve already mentioned before having more books with little to no romance and well, here’s this one! I think it’s really great what the author did here; not all teens find their soulmates in high school (ahem. Example: me), and focusing on aspects like love for family and friends, made this book refreshing and incredibly heartwarming. There was no shortage in love though; what this book lacked in romance, it more than made up for it with its focus on the love between Vicente and Sal, Sal and Mima, Sal and Sam’s platonic and wonderful friendship, Sal & Sam and Maggie, the dog, Sal, Sam and Fito, Sal and his uncle, and the list goes on and on. The family dynamics in Sal’s family was so beautiful, and I can not express how much I adored them. Family is SO important, and I loved the emphasis on that in this book. 

Speaking of non-romantic relationships; the friends in this book are actually #goals. Individually, my feelings on them vary, but Sal, Sam, and later Fito have such an adorable and supportive friendship that I adored. Sam and Sal’s friendship particularly stuck out to me; in them, I saw elements and phrases that I could either relate to with my own friends or just that I loved reading. And! They. Only. Stay. Friends!! NO I’M NOT JOKING. Yes, I’ve come to answer your prayers. Jk, but I’m a strong advocate for more female-male friendships, and this book featured one of the best ones I’ve read in a long time. Sam and Sal were so supportive of each other, so close and loving it made my heart hurt. Each of them had their own demons to battle, but they each had each other (among other people, of course) to push them to do so.

Sometimes family and friends are one of the best and biggest forms of love, and I loved how this book focused on those aspects of life. 

Other tasty aspects…

  • THE FOOD. This is the only one that actually makes sense in relation to the above statement. There were much tacos and tortillas and enchiladas and…. now I’m hungry. Help.
  • I didn’t get to mention my love for Fito!! Because I did love him. SO MUCH. He was so precious and did not deserve 90% of the things that happened to him. Probably one of my top favorite characters in this one, despite the fact that he isn’t exactly a main character until about halfway or something through the book.
  • Oh, I also should probably mention Sal, the main character! I did like him as well, he was SO sweet, and I loved the love he had for his family and Sam, and Fito. His relationship with his Mima was very nice as well, along with him and his father. ❤ Though, I did get exasperated with his anger-related issues at several points, it was okay.
  • Beautiful writing! It was simple but lyrical and it was lovely to read. I wouldn’t say I flew through the book because of it, but it did seem to make things seem less long, I think. Or maybe that was just me. Though, I will say, it’s kind of repetitive and the sentences can be pretty choppy. I don’t think this bothered me that much, but I know it can be a pet peeve for others aha.
  • I adored the diversity!! The book is filled with POC and queer characters, which I loved! Sal is white, but his adoptive father is Mexican, and Sal basically identifies as a Mexican and that was so precious.
I’m trying to make the headers a bit more related to my blog title!! I TRIED, OKAY. 😛
  •  Okay, so I mentioned I loved Sal and Sam’s friendship?? And I did, it was amazing. But Sam herself… eh, not as much. Sam’s development is great, however, I felt like her character the majority of the time tried too hard to not be like ‘other girls’. And that was annoying, because she ended up being a character who had no female friendships, instead calling them bitches, etc. *sad face* It was quite frustrating, really, because I really did want to enjoy her character more (she kind of shows up the entire novel, so like…)–and she had so much potential but… *sigh*
  • Things were too… similar for all three of the teens. Specifically in the mom department, which seemed all too… I don’t know. Unrealistic? Unlikely? I mean, I suppose it is possible but it seemed all too convenient and more of a plot device to have the characters have something in common that I could not 100% buy. #Justamethingprobabaly
  • Another thing that makes me quite.. conflicted, is the stereotypical and offensive statements in the novel. Things like “For a gay guy, my dad was pretty straight.” or “One thing about Sam was that she didn’t throw like a girl*.” and several other phrases. I just found them so unnecessary? Perhaps it was to show the naivety of the main character or something, I don’t know, but whatever the case may be, you could take those out and it would change nothing of the story, characters, theme, whatever. Nothing. It was just so unnecessary. 
    *Why is this still a thing?? Albeit in a fictional novel, but like still?
  • NO PLOT. And I know, it’s a character-driven novel, which is great, but like, 400+ pages is a lot to go through with a slow-paced plot. I do think you should be prepared for that, or else you’re going to be quite bored and disappointed with the plot. I mean, you might still be bored with the plot, but still, it’s not terrible, just it might be easier if you’re prepared with that info, haha.

Overall…

An enjoyable read! I really did like it, problems aside. Though from what I’ve seen, this is a lot of a hit-or-miss situation, most reviews I’ve seen have either given this book 4 stars, or 2. So. A lot of people have also expressed how this book does not live up to Aristotle and Dante, so if you have read that book, just a heads up! For me, personally, I have not yet read Ari and Dante, and I think that helped a bit if only to have more reasonable expectations aha. As a recap: I loved the focus on non-romantic love such as friends and family, the diversity, the FOOD of course, and especially Sal’s father. It truly was wonderful to read about that. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Sam’s, and there were phrases that were totally unnecessary, but overall, I do think it’s worth a read if you enjoy family dynamics, and character-driven novels. 


Wow, that was a long review! I tried out a slightly different format for my review today and I think it caused me to revert back to my rambling review days…

But tell me! What do you think of this novel? Have you read Ari and Dante yet? Did you like it? If you haven’t read it, tell me so I don’t feel so alone haha. 😛 What are your thoughts on problematic phrases in books? Any other books you know of with strong family dynamics and/or friendship and diversity? Do you plan on reading this book? Let me know in the comments, don’t let my frantic 2AM typing go in vain aha. Hope you have a lovely day! ❤

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My Kind of Crazy by Robin Reul | ARC Book Review

This book drove me crazy. (Get it? Drove me crazy? Okay I’ll stop.) But seriously. I had many conflicting emotions on this one, to be honest, but at the end of the day I went home happy and satisfied! So. That’s good. I won’t be raging and setting things on fire anytime soon, at least. And there were, in fact, many good things about this novel! A book focusing on themes of family, relationships, trust and the effects life can have on us, this debut is definitely one I don’t regret picking up. But let’s go into more detail, shall we?

My Kind of CrazyMy Kind of Crazy by Robin Reul

3 Stars

Publication Date: April 5th 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance, Young-Adult
Series Status: N/A—Stand-Alone
Page Count: 336 (in paperback)
Source & Format: Publisher via Netgalley, ebook
Critical Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Despite the best of intentions, seventeen-year old, wisecracking Hank Kirby can’t quite seem to catch a break. It’s not that he means to screw things up all the time, it just happens. A lot. Case in point: his attempt to ask out the girl he likes literally goes up in flames when he spells “Prom” in sparklers on her lawn…and nearly burns down her house.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Peyton Breedlove, a brooding loner and budding pyromaniac, witnesses the whole thing. Much to Hank’s dismay, Peyton takes an interest in him—and his “work.” The two are thrust into an unusual friendship, but their boundaries are tested when Hank learns that Peyton is hiding some dark secrets, secrets that may change everything he thought he knew about Peyton.

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I’m gonna take the more fitting and more convenient route for this review and give you guys a list of things that I liked, and the things that drove me crazy.. or the things I disliked. (Come on, you knew I couldn’t pass that up!) You’re welcome. Thank you Sourcebooks Fire and Netgalley for the review copy!

My Kind of Crazy book review

What I Liked

  • Can I just say I kind of love Hank? I felt so bad for him and his situation at home, the fact that he has to cope with his usually drunk father who makes it clear he doesn’t care about him. His portrayal was just so heartfelt to me and it was so easy to sympathize and root for him–even when he doesn’t make the best of choices. Hey, it’s only a matter of being human, right? I couldn’t really fault him for that.
  • The theme of broken families was clearly running for this book! And as unfortunate as it was for the characters having to deal with such bad home lives, I really appreciated the insight this offered. Both Hank and Peyton had to deal with not-the-best home lives, and throughout the story we saw as to how much this affected their daily lives and their characters–which I really loved.
  • YES for humour! This book, whatever else it may be, was fun to read. Despite the tones of seriousness and the parts of deep messages, this book had several bouts of humour and its overall style was very conversational and relaxed, which I liked. The dialogue was relatively witty, and the characters too, made it lots of fun.
  • My Kind of Crazy turned out to be a refreshing contemporary with familiar elements, which I liked well enough! It wasn’t something I’d be able to say I read before, but there were definitely parts to it which I recognize from other books. I still really liked the execution of the story as well as the messages it promoted!

What I Disliked

  • I had lots of ups and downs moments with Peyton. And seeing how she’s one of the main characters, well, the down moments didn’t exactly help with the enjoyment factor. One of the things that bothered me was her attitude and personality. While I found her character intriguing enough, I was put off by the various times she just didn’t seem like a 17/18 year-old. She just seemed so much younger and although I’m usually pretty good with dealing with that kind of thing, it was just so bothersome in this novel. :/ Though, at least in the end I was still able to care about her, even a little.
  • As much as I loved Hank for his realistic characteristics and everything, I must admit it kind of drove me nuts when he was being so blind to the things that were so obvious. Now, this is totally subjective and really no one is at fault here, but having characters constantly be blind to the things that are so blatantly evident gets tiring after a while. Sorry, Hank, that wasn’t the best. I still like you, though. XD
  • Despite the easy to read and enjoyable writing featured in this book, I found the pacing of the story to be.. kind of off? It was very hard to follow sometimes, in my opinion. Sometimes it felt really fast, other times really slow… it just threw me off, I guess.

Overall…

My Kind of Crazy was in no way a bad read! It was easy to get through, and was an enjoyable experience. I really did enjoy the messages and themes it represented, as well as most of the characters–especially Hank. I was really able to get behind him as a protagonist and rooted for him; he was so relatable and I found him to be very realisitc. So yay! On the other hand, I wasn’t the biggest fan of his love interest, Peyton, all the time. In the end, she was fine, but I didn’t exactly love her, which made the enjoyment factor go down a bit for me. Despite that, I strongly believe My Kind of Crazy is a great fit for people looking for humorous contemporaries with great messages and heartfelt characters. It’s a fun read and I definitely recommend if you’re a fan of contemporaries! My Kind of Crazy released 6 days ago, on April 5th, 2016. Go pick it up if you’re interested! 🙂


Alright, so that’s it for this review! It’s been such a long time since I wrote one, lol. Hopefully it will be followed by more! I’m currently still recovering from the amazing novel, The Sky is Everywhere which I started and finished today. Hopefully I’ll be able to make out some coherent thoughts on it! But anyway. Tell me your thoughts on this book! Would you like to read it? What humorous contemporaries have you read? Feel free to leave any and all thoughts below!

Hope you’re all enjoying your Monday! ❤

Until the Next Meal, Analee

You Were Here by Cori McCarthy | ARC Book Review

Okay, so.. basically my immediate thought is that this cover deserves 5 STARS?! Just look at it. I wouldn’t mind having this on my shelf, you know. Just sayin’.

But lucky for me—and you, if you’re as swayed by the cover as I am—this book doesn’t just look pretty! Despite the difficulties I had at first to get into it, this book absolutely blew me away with its realistic, and complex characters, through various mediums of writing included, and its simple but truly entertaining storyline. Here’s what this book is all about:

You Were HereYou Were Here by Cori McCarthy

Publication Date: March 1st 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre(s): Contemporary, Young-Adult
Series Status: N/A—Stand-Alone
Page Count: 267
Source & Format: Publisher via Netgalley, ebook
Critical Rating: 4 stars (Really Good)

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Cori McCarthy delivers an emotionally taut page-turner from multiple points of view – combined with stunning illustrations.

Jaycee is about to accomplish what her older brother Jake couldn’t: live past graduation.

Jaycee is dealing with her brother’s death the only way she can – by re-creating Jake’s daredevil stunts. The ones that got him killed. She’s not crazy, okay? She just doesn’t have a whole lot of respect for staying alive.

Jaycee doesn’t expect to have help on her insane quest to remember Jake. But she’s joined by a group of unlikely friends – all with their own reasons for completing the dares and their own brand of dysfunction: the uptight, ex-best friend, the heartbroken poet, the slacker with Peter Pan syndrome, and… Mik. He doesn’t talk, but somehow still challenges Jayce to do the unthinkable-reveal the parts of herself that she buried with her brother.

Cori McCarthy’s gripping narrative defies expectation, moving seamlessly from prose to graphic novel panels and word art poetry, perfect for fans of E. Lockhart, Jennier Niven, and Jandy Nelson. From the petrifying ruins of an insane asylum to the skeletal remains of the world’s largest amusement park, You Were Here takes you on an unforgettable journey of friendship, heartbreak and inevitable change.

“You Were Here is wrenchingly beautiful in its honest and achingly accurate portrayal of grief and how it breaks us-and the way unconditional friendship puts us back together.”-Jo Knowles, award-winning author of See You At Harry’s and Read Between the Lines

“The urban explorers of You Were Here dive deep into the forgotten man-made spaces all around them—and their own feelings of loss, love, and fear. McCarthy deftly intertwines the characters’ stories, filling them with authentic pain and heartache as well as soaring moments of grace and humor. I dare you to read it!” —Maggie Lehrman, author of The Cost of All Things

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Ahhh, so much to say here! I’ll be writing out this review in list form, between the things I loved and the things that I didn’t love so much. No spoilers, as usual, but if you’d rather just have the more vague and simple version of how I felt on this book, the ‘overall’ part would be good for you. Thanks to Sourcebooks Fire and Netgalley for the review copy!

You Were Here book review

Things I Loved

  • Omg so many amazing 3-dimensional characters. I LOVED THEM. Gah. At first it took me a while to warm up to them?? (You know me, I can be an incredibly paranoid-of-disappointment and unemotional chocolate bar at times. I know, I know, I’m working on it.) But anyway, I loved them all by the end of it—some more than others. We get all their POVs in this book (though two out of five of them aren’t exactly in the most conventional way). Because I’m a very helpful minion, here’s a little rundown of what I loved of each of the main(ish) characters.
    • Jaycee: The protagonist of the novel, Jaycee was a blunt, reckless, flawed and oh-so-imperfectly perfect character! There were so many times where I went shaking my head and crying out in exasperation at her thoughts and actions, yet I found myself really emotionally drawn to her throughout the story.
    • Natalie: Jaycee’s former best friend, Natalie wasn’t that much of a big deal to me at first. She just seemed like a super bossy and uptight teen that I didn’t care that much about. But as I read more of the story, she developed so much more and she proved to be a strong and well-written character.
    • Jake: Like Natalie, I didn’t think much of him at first. He seemed kind of like the comic relief, and nothing else? But he too, went through so much development! As I continued to read the story, I saw more of who he truly was, layers that I was able to keep peeling away, which was AWESOME.
    • Bishop: The thing with Bishop, is that while we get his POV, it’s different because it’s not exactly his thoughts we see, as text. Bishop is a fan of graffiti, and throughout the book we get several of the things he graffiti-ed. The idea as a whole was great, but I didn’t get as much of a grasp on his character.
    • Mik(ivikious): Okay, so first of all: I LOVE THE NAME. (It’s a nickname, off his last name.) And I really did enjoy his character, so yay! His perspective was drawn out as comic strips (which was fabulous), though his character was revealed more through the plot and the other characters.
  • The multiple POVs in this book were so absolutely delightful to read. As I mentioned, we get the perspectives of all the above characters, though Bishop and Mik’s POVs were not like the others. Jaycee’s perspective was the only one in first person; Natalie’s and Jake’s were in third person. I absolutely loved how it all played out! Everything transitioned so perfectly and the multiple POVs weren’t confusing and instead helped give insight on the many characters of this book.
  • This book had so many amazing themes. Like, seriously. From grief to friendships to change and familial relationships, You Were Here handled it all seamlessly and it was so great to read about such lovely themes. I especially liked:
    • Jaycee and Natalie’s friendship. At the start of the book, they’ve drifted apart to the point where they hardly speak, but through the events of the novel, their bond and the way they interact as they become a part of eachother’s lives was so great to read about.
    • And so many other great themes! Sorry I’m lazy.
  • The descriptions. Many (if not all) of the places the characters visited in this book are actually real places, I’ve found, and it was so cool to have such a clear picture of said place as I read the book. And yes, afterwards I did search up some of the places. Ahhh my wanderlust kicked in there! Though seriously, it was super cool.
  • Ummmm I feel like I’m missing something, ugh. I dunno. But these were definitely the high points!

Things That Disappointed Me

  • At times I felt as if the whole theme of the book kind of distracted by the romance? Yet the romance wasn’t the focus either. And it was still a good experience? But maybe it could’ve better if the romance part wasn’t the total focus. Maybe? Possibly? Soooo. Confusion ensues here.
  • Despite all the awesome-sauce feelings I had while reading this book, I find myself unable to get a clear, memorable picture of it in my head, despite having read it only a few months ago? I dunno. Maybe it’s a ME problem, and not the book, but.. I feel like I should be able to remember it more fondly and more clearly than I do right now?? Interpret that as you wish, lol, I know that made no sense.

Overall…

Entertainment-wise, this book is absolutely fabulous! Although it took me a while to warm up to it and finish it, as I went further into the novel I was hooked and it was only due to lack of time that I didn’t finish it sooner. And from a critical aspect, not so shabby either! Great characters, engaging writing, and a good plot that kept me interested throughout the story. I’m glad I continued on with this book despite my first impressions! This book is way more than just a pretty cover, I assure you. You Were Here releases tomorrow, March 1st! Be sure to keep your eye out for it if you haven’t already. 🙂


Aaaaand, I think that’s a wrap! Tell me your thoughts; what do you think of this book? What are some of your favourite books you’ve encountered with great characters? YA books with illustrations? Are you a fan of multiple POV books? Do you plan on reading this book?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! ❤ Happy reading! I hope your Monday isn’t too terrible. LOL.

Until the Next Meal, Analee

Forget Tomorrow by Pintip Dunn | ARC Book Review

Forget TomorrowForget Tomorrow by Pintip Dunn

4 stars

Publication Date: November 3rd 2015
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Genre(s): Sci-fi, Dystopia, Young-Adult
Series Status: Forget Tomorrow Series #1
Page Count: 400
Source & Format: Publisher via Netgalley, ebook

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Imagine a world where your destiny has already been decided…by your future self.

It’s Callie’s seventeenth birthday and, like everyone else, she’s eagerly awaiting her vision―a memory sent back in time to sculpt each citizen into the person they’re meant to be. A world-class swimmer. A renowned scientist.

Or in Callie’s case, a criminal.

In her vision, she sees herself murdering her gifted younger sister. Before she can process what it means, Callie is arrested and placed in Limbo―a hellish prison for those destined to break the law. With the help of her childhood crush, Logan, a boy she hasn’t spoken to in five years, she escapes.

But on the run from her future, as well as the government, Callie sets in motion a chain of events that she hopes will change her fate. If not, she must figure out how to protect her sister from the biggest threat of all—Callie, herself.

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Hey everyone! In case you didn’t catch it from the title, today I’m going to be sharing my thoughts on Forget Tomorrow by Pintip Dunn! (Thank you Netgalley and Entangled Teen for sending me this e-ARC for review! Please note: All quotes mentioned in this review are from the uncorrected proof and may be changed in the final copy—which was released 2 days ago, by the way.)

In a nutshell; a dystopian and sci-fi novel set in a futuristic world, Forget Tomorrow shares refreshing ideas with characters I found to be engaging and relatively realistic. If you’re looking for a unique YA dystopian novel, or a well-written novel from a debut author, I recommend giving Forget Tomorrow a shot!

Plot

In Forget Tomorrow, we are introduced to a world where the future of every citizen is dependent on their future memory that they receive when they’re 17. In most cases citizens are fortunate to see themselves in the career they’re interested in, etc. But then there are the cases where the future memory shows them committing a crime, and as a result, they are locked up. For me, personally, I really liked this concept, as not only was it a pretty unique idea in itself, the plot allowed for several intriguing issues to be addressed and Dunn made it so that the story line was gripping and generally memorable. I’m going to mention here though that I’ve read from several other reviewers that this book was very similar to Minority Report, and that if you have watched MR, Forget Tomorrow might not have as much of an impact on you. Having said that, for me, the plot of this novel was definitely one of the things I liked a lot.

As a side note, Dunn also wastes no time in introducing readers to the characters and her world, and that was refreshing. I mean, the first few pages are pretty normal, but it doesn’t take long for the story to really get going, and you all probably know by now that I often enjoy books that don’t take too long with intros. (Not that I dislike any books that do.)  Right about 30 pages in I was already hooked and put in a heart-thumping scene which kick-started emotional investment in the story. And the cliffhanger at the end! I definitely can’t wait to read the sequel to this book.

Characters

Although I wasn’t a huge fan of the character right away, I must praise Dunn’s creation of Callie. I didn’t have much hope for her at first, but as I read more of the novel, I saw how much more there is to Callie—and I loved it. She had flaws, she made mistakes, and most of all, her love for her sister is beautiful and strong.

If you’ve been around in the book blogging community for a while—or if you’re a reader at all—you probably have noticed the lack of parental bonds and familial affection in YA novels. Either it’s dead parents, kidnapped parents, absentee parent, whatever parent, the case remains the same; hardly ever any parents. It’s become actually quite rare to have parents that actually care and are aware of things going on. (But that’s a discussion for another day.) What really stood out to me in Forget Tomorrow was the emphasis and focus on a sibling bond. Parental bonds are rare, but to me sibling bonds are even rarer, and I absolutely adored how Dunn incorporated Callie’s love for Jessa as a focus point in the story. (Of course, there were other familial bonds included as well, which only made the story better.)

You are the candle that shines when all power is extinguished. The proof that love exists when life is snuffed out.
When all my layers are stripped away, when everything I know is turned inside out, all I have left is  this.

My love for you.

It’s the only thing they can’t touch.

-Callie, about Jessa

The thing is, the strength of love is often addressed in YA novels, but it’s so rare that we’re talking about the strength of a sibling love, a sisterly bond. Being an older sister myself, I’d do anything for my younger sister, and I’m so happy to finally see a representation of that in a YA novel. Callie’s love for her sister was so strong, I admired, empathized and rooted for Callie by the end of the novel, no matter what other issues I had with her character.

Another thing I found to be really well-done in Callie’s character was her personality, and her development. Callie had flaws—which is what made her a better character. She can be selfish, she’s fearful (of heights, swimming, etc.) but this made her all the more real and I was able to relate to her. Her selfish moments did sometimes get a bit cumbersome, but they were something I only registered, not exactly something I disliked. I definitely appreciated how Callie wasn’t ignorant of when she was being selfish; it was usually quite the contrary of that, actually.

Selfish, a voice inside me roars. Self-centered, inconsiderate, pathetic. The amount of my selfishness makes me dizzy with disgust, but I can’t help myself. Even as I loathe myself for trying, the words pour out of me, searching, reaching, grasping for another solution.

How honest and relatable, is it not?

So, moving on to Logan, Callie’s love interest. Although he’s a perfectly fine character and usually would be the split image of someone I’d love, I’m not completely sold on his and Callie’s romance—or his character at all. Really, there’s not anything glaringly wrong with Logan; it’s just my opinion that he felt a bit dull. Or something. A terrible way to describe it, I know. Bottom line; I didn’t enjoy him as much as Callie, though he was still okay. (LOL I’m feeling kind of guilty for this very short and unclear paragraph on Logan when I look back at all my thoughts on Callie…I hope I’m making at least a little bit of sense!) Unfortunately my thoughts on the other characters were similar to that of Logan’s—though that isn’t to say I’m not interested in learning more about them!

Writing Style

And last but not least, I want to mention how much I enjoyed simply reading the words in this novel. With its vivid imagery and simplistic-yet-not style, Pintip Dunn took me by surprise with the writing in Forget Tomorrow. Everything I read popped into my brain immediately, and it was a fun experience to simply read the writing because it was all so well-written. Dunn did a great job in first person narrative, getting Callie’s voice across through the words clearly and effectively, as well as thoroughly showing Callie’s internal struggle, which did loads to get me even closer to Callie’s character.

Overall…

If you’re looking for a more different kind of dystopian novel than the average ones out there, Forget Tomorrow should go up on your list! A book of many themes and messages—including sibling bonds, making your own destiny and finding who you really are—Forget Tomorrow will definitely leave a strong impression. An important thing that stuck out to me was the familial bonds in this, which aren’t shown enough in most books. The fact that it was represented in this novel made everything so much the better. The intriguing world Dunn has created is gripping and intriguing, both something I recognize and something completely new (though for some it may not be the case). Dunn’s writing is wonderfully suited for the story, creating vivid images and hooking the reader. A solid 4 stars read! Definitely going to be keeping my eyes out for the sequel next year.

A little wrap-up of everything I’ve said:

  • The futuristic world was hooking and intriguing
  • The cliffhanger at the end of the book has me eager to read the sequel
  • Callie’s love for her sister was beautifully portrayed; this sisterly bond is one of the main reasons I liked this book so much
  • Callie herself was a great character, with flaws (that she’s aware of)
  • I was a bit iffy about Logan (and a lot of the other characters who aren’t explained as much), though he’s not a bad character
  • The writing was incredibly beautiful and took me by surprise (in the good way) coming from a debut author.

So, the time has come for the verdict: Do I recommend you gobble this up? Definitely, if you’re looking for a good YA dystopian/sci-fi novel to read—or if any of the above points interests you!


Let us forget tomorrow and talk about this book today! (Don’t even know if that made any sense—truth be told I’m only focusing on the [admittedly pretty bad] pun. LOL.) Point being; I’d love to know what you think of this book! Does it intrigue you? What books have you read that includes familial bonds? (‘Cause I’m in desperate need of having more books with family. I’m serious, guys.) Let me know whatever thoughts you may have down below! ❤

Hugs! 

Until the Next Meal, Analee

Playing the Player by Lisa Brown Roberts | ARC Book Review (Blog Tour + Giveaway)

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Playing the PlayerPlaying the Player by Lisa Brown Roberts

4 stars =Really Good

Publication Date: September 14th 2015
Publisher: Entangled Crush
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance, Young-Adult
Series Status: N/A—Stand Alone
Page Count: 295
Source & Format: Publisher via Netgalley, ebook
Purchase: kindle | nook | ibooks | kobo

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The Good Girl Vs. The Player
Round one begins…

Trina Clemons needed the money. Why else would she – the most organized, prepared student in school – spend the summer as a nanny and partner with the biggest slacker ever? Now she’s ready to tackle nannyhood with her big binder of research and schedules. Just don’t ask her about the secret job of “fixing” the bad habits of a certain high school player…

Slade Edmunds prefers easy hook-ups, and Trina is definitely not his type. She’s all structure and rules, while Slade wants to just have fun. Fortunately, Trina has no idea about the bet Slade made with his best friend that he can totally get her to unwind by the end of summer…

Then the weirdest thing happens. There’s chemistry. A lot of it.
But nothing gets between a boy and a girl like a big, fat secret…

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Hello! Today I have a review on Playing the Player by Lisa Brown Roberts, as part of a blog tour hosted by YA Bound Book Tours (You can check out the rest of the schedule here). Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the review copy!

The first thing I’m going to say about this book is that simply put, I really enjoyed it! It’s a very fun read that will satisfy romance and contemporary lovers out there with the wonderful chemistry between the characters, and the well-done cliches, which, you have to admit, doesn’t always happen and can be pretty fun to read about! You can’t even deny it. 😉 I haven’t ever read anything else by Lisa Brown Roberts, but after this I definitely will!

Quick Summary

In Playing the Player we follow the story of Trina and Slade, both complete opposites. While Trina is about control and discipline, Slade is a easy-going player who treats life as a party. When they’re paired together to work as partners, neither of them know about the secrets the other is keeping. And it soon seems to be, that although both Trina and Slade are way out of their league, they both have lots of chemistry. But is it for the good? Or will it just blow up in their faces?

Plot

I will not deny it; this plot is pretty cliché, with the whole “Good girl falls for the bad-boy player” scheme and all. I’m sure most of you have seen that trope, since it’s almost everywhere. But one of things I loved about this book was the fact that the author took this trope and gave it a twist that fully worked for the story and really made it interesting to read about. Trina didn’t just help Slade, Slade helped Trina to grow as a person and loosen up. And I loved seeing that happen. The plot may have been cliched, but really, that only adds to an overall great story, since it was still enjoyable to read and artfully done.

Another thing I loved about the plot was the overall feel-good vibe to it. The story was perfectly executed to suit its audience with the right of amount of cuteness that made it the perfect summer read. Though the plot was pretty predictable, I still loved every minute of it!

Characters

Another thing I loved about this novel was the fact it was character-driven. I loved the characters, even with the little things I did have some problems with.

Take Trina, for example. I mostly loved her character, especially seeing her character develop throughout the novel. At the start, she’s very rigid about things, as well as vulnerable behind her armor, but by the end she’s much stronger and more relaxed. The chemistry between her and Slade is great, and I really liked watching her fall for Slade—slowly.

“I didn’t know what we were doing or what any of this meant. But I intended to follow it all the way through, because for the first time in forever, I felt fully alive.”

She’s also different than most characters I’ve read about, and I praise the author for creating a character like her. Not only did that make Trina stand out, it also made me more interested in her. I mean, it’s not often that I come across a character who handles things the way Trina does, and there was some wonderful characterization I saw in her that made her more than just a 2-dimensional figure.

“I hated it when I lost control, because I hardly ever did. My whole life was built on discipline and schedules and never making mistakes. I dreaded what would happen if I let down my guard, even for a day.”

I will admit though, that I would’ve liked it a bit more had there been a stronger reason behind Trina’s rigid attitude. I found out about the big reason behind her worrying tendencies and all that and I was kind of like, “Is that it?” But nonetheless, I loved Trina’s character.

Which brings me to Slade Edmunds, who I really liked (although he’s not without his faults). Of course, he is like one of those typical jock guys you see in contemporaries; the player who’s all for the long-legged Barbie-like ladies. You know what I mean. And despite the fact that I know I’ve seen it before, his character was still interesting. As we get his POV, we see more into how he thinks and that insight definitely proved to be useful since it helped get a deeper perspective into him. He was a really sweet guy and I loved seeing the banter between him and Trina, as well as the way he handled things with the kids.

One thing that wasn’t my favorite about him, was his tendency to comment on how attractive Trina is; noticing her cherry-red lips, her short hair, etc. I mean, this wasn’t a big deal, and I didn’t even notice or care at first, but after a few repetitions of him noticing something and then going like, “Wait, I’m not supposed to be thinking that,” it kind of lost its effect. But again, like my little issue with Trina, this wasn’t a huge deal for me.

And last but not least, I have to mention a few of the secondary characters I really liked! Gillian and Max, the kids Trina and Slade had to watch over, were hilarious and were lots of fun to read about. They were troublemakers for sure! I wasn’t a huge fan of the role the adults played in this, but that didn’t bother me that much since I was more focused on the story.

Writing Style

Lisa Brown Roberts was really able to nail writing in dual-perspective! There were hardly any moments I remember stumbling between chapters, trying to place who’s speaking, thank goodness! It just ruins the flow of reading, you know, when that happens. Both characters’ POVs were written in first person, and it was very well-done. The writing added just the right amount of fluffiness to the novel and really got the characters’ personalities through as well. It had a very conversational tone to it, which went well with the overall warm-fuzzies-and-cuteness feel to the story.

Overall…

This book is a solid 4 stars read that I definitely did not regret! A perfect summer read, this book will give you a  great combination of drama, chemistry between realistic characters, a romance to root for and a story that will have you smiling and turning the pages consistently. Trina and Slade are both characters you can’t help but end up loving despite their flaws-–and that’s what we all look for, right? The plot is pretty cliched and predictable, but if you’re looking for a cute and fluffy read, I recommend picking this one up asap! Seeing the banter between the characters, the development of both Slade and Trina, as well as Gillian and Max amping things up in the humour department, this book is perfect for the summer, or anytime you’re feeling down and need a little fluffy romance!

Have you read this book? Do you want to read this book? And while we’re at it, what are your thoughts on cliches-done-good? Let me know in the comments—and don’t forget to enter the giveaway below!

*I’d also love to know what you think of the slightly new set-up of my review; like it or do you prefer the other style? Feedback greatly appreciated! <3*

Mm, this one was good. Gobble it up!

Analee 4


lisa brown robertsAbout the Author

Lisa Brown Roberts still hasn’t recovered from the teenage trauma of nearly tweezing off both eyebrows and having to pencil them in for an entire school year. This and other angst-filled memories inspire her to write YA books about navigating life’s painful and funny dramas, and falling in love along the way. Her almost forever home is Colorado, though she occasionally pines for the days when she lived within walking distance of the Pacific Ocean. Her house is full of books, boys, several four-legged prima donnas, and lots of laughter.

Author Links
Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook


Giveaway – “Nanny Survival Kit” open to U.S. which will also include a signed copy of the book. If the winner is international, a $20 Amazon gift card will be substituted in place of the prize pack.
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The Ugly Stepsister by Aya Ling | Book Review

(Stand-Alone)

Published: June 12th 2015

Synopsis:

When Kat accidentally rips apart an old picture book, she’s magically transported into the world of Cinderella–as Katriona, one of the ugly stepsisters! Life turns upside down now that she’s a highborn lady and must learn how to survive the social season, including how to get through the door in a huge metal hoop skirt. To get back, she’ll have to complete the story, right to the end of happily ever after. But the odds are huge: the other stepsister is drop-dead gorgeous, the fairy godmother is nowhere to be found, and the prince, despite being insanely hot, openly dislikes balls. Can she ever return to the modern world?


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My Rating: 4.5 Stars 4.5/5 (Amazing)

Book Information

Genre(s): Young-adult, fantasy, fairytale retelling

Page Count: 452

Format: e-book


Note: I received a free digital copy of this book thanks to Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Hello everyone! Today I have for you a review on The Ugly Stepsister by Aya Ling, an awesome Cinderella fairytale retelling. It is honestly one of the best and one of the most unique retellings I have ever read, and I loved it. After all those fairytale retellings out there, you’d think that there aren’t many new ideas out there, but this book definitely throws those notions out of the water.

Quick Summary

Kat is your resident bookworm who loves to read (obviously). One day, while cleaning her attic, she accidentally rips an old Cinderella fairytale book and is transported inside the story, where she is told that she is required to complete the story in order to get back home. Thing is, Kat isn’t Cinderella. Nope, she’s the ugly stepsister, named Katriona Bradshaw. She must get the prince to fall in love with Cinderella… but problems arise when she starts to fall in love with the prince herself.

Plot

Ahh this plot was simply wonderful! It was full of twists and turns that I loved and couldn’t get enough of. The pacing was fast, and I loved how everything fit together so nicely. There was the main plot (Kat trying to get the prince and Cinderella together so she could go home to where she belongs) and then there were various subplots, other things that happened along the way that made the storyline even stronger. The plot of the novel is just so unique in itself, it was double the fun in reading the book and trying to guess at what might happen.

The only thing I have to say is that I wasn’t the biggest fan of the ending. I totally understood why the author had to make it that way, but I couldn’t—still can’t—fully accept it. That being said, it’s a pretty bitter-sweet kind of ending and not exactly what I was hoping for, but the rest of the story still makes it worth reading. The journey more than the destination, you know? And it isn’t terrible ending, it’s quite subjective really. Overall, the plot was totally unique and an awesome adventure!

Characters

“Books open new worlds to me.”

Let’s move on to the characters. Kat, the protagonist, was amazing. Not only was she a totally awesome bookworm, she seemed realistic and it was just lots of fun seeing her attempt to adjust in a new world, and so easy to relate to her as she struggled to do so. I could also totally see a lot of my bookworm tendencies in her and that was a wonderful touch.

“Okay Kat. This is Story World, for heaven’s sake, so get a grip on yourself. You’ve no business drooling over storybook characters.”

Replace Kat with Analee and that’s basically what I have to tell myself whenever I’m transported into a wonderful story and fall in love with the characters. (AKA, all the time!) 😉

Apart from Kat’s general relatability and bookishness, I loved her development. From a shy but likeable and kind of awkward bibliophile, she becomes a strong, independant and confident female character who I not only liked, but admired. She becomes more outspoken, and more sure of herself, and I loved seeing that in her.

I also really liked the love interest, the prince, Edward. But, I won’t lie, not as much as I did Kat. But that didn’t make him a bad character. He liked to read and owned a huge library which he allowed Kat to use (which reminded me a lot of Dorian from Throne of Glass, lol.) He’s a really good person, but at first, I really had trouble getting the image of the Edward from Twilight out of my head. I mean, come on, I’m sure all of you reading this right now was thinking about it. I don’t hate Edward by any means, but I really didn’t want to associate this character with him, for which reason I’m glad that I was able to identify him as his own person later on in the book.

And although there are some similarities between the two (mainly the temper) I really liked seeing how the story wasn’t affected that much by it. He was caring and a really sweet guy, who I think I kind of fell for by the end of the book. 🙂 The romance between him and Kat was quite cute and well balanced; just enough of it to keep readers satisfied and wanting more at the same time. So, basically, I’m trying to say although there are similarities between this Edward and Twilight’s Edward, they’re not too many and overall I really liked him.

There are several secondary characters in this, but there isn’t much to say about them since we don’t get too much of them in-depth since the story is told mostly from Kat’s 1st person POV, which didn’t leave much space for other characters to be as developed as her and Edward. I did really like Henry and Elle (Cinderella) though, who both play important roles in the book and are quite nice.

Writing Style

The writing style is perfect for this story! The writing really reflected both Kat’s humor and personality, which was lots of fun to read. It was fast paced to reflect the pace of the story, but it wasn’t too rushed and was simple but still very significant and beautiful.

Overall…

This is a book you definitely can’t miss if you like fairytale retellings—and unique ones at that! I haven’t read all the Cinderella fairytale retellings out there, but this one is definitely unlike most of them out there, in a good way. I mean, how many times have you read a retelling told from the POV of the ugly stepsister? And although this book didn’t follow the original fairytale that much, it was totally able to pull off a fresh concept wonderfully. Though the ending is quite subjective, the plot itself is full of twists and turns and a great story with a cute romance. The main character Kat is relatable and a wonderful person who goes through a lot of development—which is great. Edward, the love interest, is quite sweet and likeable, and not a replica of Edward from Twilight, fortunately. (Although if you have a major hate thing going on with Edward, I suggest you proceed with caution.) The writing style is also spot-on for this story and I loved it! All in all, this book was fantastic and I really liked it. I imagine you would too if you like retellings and romance—but we’d never know if you don’t try! I definitely recommend you give this book a shot.

Have you read this book? Let me know what you thought! And even if you haven’t, I’d love to know what you think of this book; want to read or not interested? Have you read any retellings told from the POV of the stepsister? (‘Cause I honestly would love to know! :P)

A tasty meal for sure! Gobble it up. 

Analee 10

 

Your Voice is All I Hear by Leah Scheier | ARC Book Review

(Stand-Alone)

Expected Publication: September 1st 2015

Synopsis:

Everything about Jonah is unexpected. On the first day of school, he sits next to April, when he could have chosen to sit with the popular girl. He turns down an invitation to join the school team and declares he’d rather paint. He encourages April to develop her musical talent and shrugs off the bullies that torment them.

April isn’t surprised to find herself falling for Jonah. The unexpected part is when he falls for her too.

But the giddy happiness of their first romance begins to fade when Jonah’s unpredictability begins to take a darker turn. April understands that her boyfriend is haunted by a painful memory, but his sudden mood swings worry her. She can’t explain his growing fear of cellphones, electric keyboards, and of sounds that no one else can hear. Still, no matter what happens, April is sure that she’ll always stand by him.

Until Jonah finally breaks and is committed to a psychiatric ward.

Until schizophrenia changes everything.

Though everyone urges her to let him go, April stays true to Jonah. But as the boy she adores begins to disappear in front of her, she has to face her worst fear: that her love may not be enough to save him.


Your Voice is All I Hear
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My Rating: 4 stars 4/5 (Really Good)

Book Information

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Genre(s): Contemporary (Mental Illness), Young-Adult

ARC Page Count: 336

Format: e-book


Thank you Sourcebooks Fire for sending me an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley! This did not affect my review in any way. Any of the quotes used are from an uncorrected proof and may be changed in the final copy.

Hello, today I have for you an ARC review on Your Voice is All I Hear by Leah Scheier! This book is a contemporary novel that covers mental illness (schizophrenia). I honestly haven’t read many books of this topic, one of the reasons why this book caught my eye, especially after reading (and enjoying) Made You Up by Francesca Zappia, the one book of schizophrenia I’ve read recently. This book turned out to be way different than what I expected—way different than Made You Up (in case some of you were wondering), generally in a good way. If you’re into mental illness in YA (and by mental illness, I mean, a true, realistic portrayal of it), I urge you to pick up this book.  The schizophrenia was shown for what it really was, not sugarcoated, and it was clear the author did her research, which is fantastic. My main problem with this book, however, was the fact that I wasn’t a big fan of the main character. Actually, I wasn’t a fan of almost all of the characters in here. The secondary characters came off as stereotypical and the main character herself was a bit too bland and needy for my taste. But by the end of the novel, I was able to look past all that to say that I still enjoyed this book.

Plot

My feelings on the plot varied throughout the story. At the start the plot generally annoyed me, mainly because the characters all got on my nerves and I couldn’t get into the story. I didn’t like April much (she was extremely judgmental, and quite naive, which just didn’t work out with me), and it definitely didn’t help when she went ahead and instantly fell in love with the new guy in her class. I’m not completely against insta-love, I know it can definitely work for the better at times, but this book was definitely not one of those times. I just wasn’t feeling it.

Luckily, as I continued through the story, the plot got better, in that we started to get introduced to the symptoms of schizophrenia. I started to look past the characters into seeing more of the schizophrenia’s effects, and it was truly heart-wrenching seeing the denial the characters went through, seeing the tougher, grittier side of schizophrenia, which, trust me, isn’t pretty.

Near the end of the novel (maybe after 60 or 70% read) I really started to get emotionally attached to everything. The feels! There starts to have so much going on, and my emotions just kind of all explode all over the place. I absolutely loved that! I would even go as far as to say that this almost got me to shed a tear, which doesn’t often happen. Although the plot isn’t the best right from the get-go, it’s definitely drama and emotion-packed!

Characters

“I was the one he trusted. I was the one he loved, the only one who believed him, even when his own mother had locked him away and thrown away the key.”

I wasn’t a big fan of April, I’ll admit that. For a good part of the book I found her to be bland, selfish, naive and even a bit needy as well. It just wasn’t my favorite combo, but I will admit that in some ways you can consider her to be a realistic portrayal of how a lot of people would act in her shoes. And perhaps for some of you April will be a great protagonist, but for me, she just wasn’t the best. However, that being said, once I got near the middle-ish and the end, I started to really care for her. What she went through, must’ve been torturous, and my heart honestly hurt for her by the end. So, I guess these two opposing sentiments kind of just cancel eachother out, and to put it simply; she was an okay protagonist. Her character is pretty easy to sympathize with, even if she wasn’t the most likable person at the start. I ended up genuinely rooting for her, which is great.

Jonah, April’s love interest, is the one suffering from schizophrenia. He is definitely my favorite character in the book, it didn’t take me long ’till I fell under his spell and was rooting for him completely. We don’t see right away the effects of the schizophrenia; we get the time to get to know him, see what he’s like. Which, ultimately, meant that my heart broke even harder when we start seeing the symptoms, because I had already grown attached to him. It was so heartbreaking to see how damaging the effects of schizophrenia can be, although I praise Leah Scheier for doing such a wonderful job on it. There was no sugar-coating, and although seeing it through April’s eyes didn’t allow for us to see what Jonah himself was thinking, it was clear how much he was struggling. Honestly, I’m rendered speechless just thinking about it all, because my words cannot do justice to express how heart-wrenching it was, reading what Jonah went through.

Writing Style

The writing is very pleasant, it had a conversational style to it, with a more serious mood underlying it. The pacing was relatively fast (to reflect the nature of schizophrenia, I suppose, what with its unpredictability, etc.) It really suited the story and was intriguing to read. The story is written from the first-person perspective of April, which, I suppose is fitting and also did its part to have me sympathize with her character.

Overall…

I really enjoyed this novel, despite not being a fan of April for a good chunk of the first half of the novel. April, really is what prevented me from rating this book higher, but overall I consider this to be a heart-wrenching novel that you should definitely not miss if you’re looking for a well-written portrayal of schizophrenia. The plot had me absolutely all over the place in the end; my emotions ranged from despairing to desperate and so much more. I loved Jonah so much, and I praise Leah Scheier for being able to bring out such strong responses from me (and other readers, I’m sure). The ending was lovely, in a kind of heartbreaking and bittersweet way. I’m not usually a big fan of open endings (as there is in this book) and wasn’t a big fan of this one at first, but overall, I found it to be quite fitting for the story. All in all, Your Voice is All I Hear is an emotional read that is not afraid to show the true effects of schizophrenia—and how it can change the lives of so many in the matter of seconds. A wonderful story!

What you do think of this book? Have you read it? Let me know in the comments below!


Hungry? Well don’t worry, you’ll get your chance to gobble this up when it releases tomorrow! 😉

Analee 10