Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Gripping YA Opening Lines

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. If you want to participate, click here. This week's theme is Top Ten Opening Lines.

The first page, paragraph, even the first sentence, of a book is extremely important in grabbing the reader's attention and interest. There are some where you can tell it will be an amazing read, and others where you aren't that excited anymore. Below are some of the most thought-provoking opening lines I have ever read!

1. Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu
"My mother takes the vase from the bookshelf and hurls it, smashing it to bits by my father's bare feet. My father doesn't even step back as the tiny pink and white pieces of ceramic skid past him on the hardwood floor. He just stands there, staring." I love the unusual nature of the father not instinctual moving, as well as the mother throwing it near the father. That signifies that whatever is about to come next, the context, is very important and very emotionally impactful.

2. The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shawn David Hutchinson
"The boy is on fire. EMTs wheel him into Roanoke General's sterile emergency room. He screams and writhes on the gurney as though the fire that burned his skin away burns still, flaring deep within his bones, where the paramedics and doctors and nurses cowering around him, working desperately, will never be able to extinguish it." The imagery here is very skillful, instantly grabs my attention, and leaves me eagerly awaiting to find out more not only about this boy, but about how the narrator is able to witness it.

3. Bruiser by Neal Shusterman
"If he touches her, I swear I'm going to rip his guts out with my bare hands and send them back to his next of kin for lunch." My first thought after reading this sentence was to think what a very rage-filled, slightly disturbing thought this was. Second thought was wondering "why"- the one word every writer should strive for.

4. Reality Boy by A.S. King
"I'm the boy you saw on TV. Remember the little freak who took a crap on his parent's oak-stained table when they confiscated his Game Boy? Remember how the camera cleverly hid his most private parts with the glittery fake daisy and sunflower centerpiece?" First, I love the rhetorical questions. Second, the crude imagery with a humorous, sarcastic note left me extremely intrigued in learning more of his character development since that time. 

5. Miles From Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams
"There are mice. Lots of mice. Running all over my room. Letting out crying sounds that grate on my ears. They crawl on my feet. My legs. I feel them on my arms. Soft things with toenails like blunt needles." I have never read a first sentence that immediately sets the tone for the rest of the book like this one does. Miles From Ordinary maintains a creepy, at times disturbing, tone throughout the story. This first few sentences perfectly foreshadow the rest of the book and instantly hooks the reader.

6. The Taking by Kimberly Derting 
"My head was pounding. But not like a headache. More like someone was using it as a basketball against the pavement. For target practice. That was it, I realized, prying my eyes open at last. Something was hitting me." I love simile here, which provided an emphasis on how horrible her head must be feeling. What also makes this one gripping is the desire to know what is hitting her- and why. While I did not enjoy the story and did not end up reading more of the series, it still started out great!

8. How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake
"She waits until we're driving over the bridge to tell me. This is a strategic move. Wait until your temperamental daughter is suspended over the Atlantic Ocean to drop the bomb, thereby decreasing the chance that she'll fling open the car door and hurl herself over the edge." The sarcasm in these first two sentences is awesome. In addition, now the reader really wants to find out what the mother will tell her, and why it is so awful that the main character references suicide over it?

7. Dry by Jared and Neal Shusterman
 "The kitchen faucet makes the most bizarre sounds. It coughs and wheezes like its gone asthmatic. It gurgles like someone's drowning. It spits once, then goes silent." I love the personification of the faucet in the opening lines, which emphasizes the importance of the object and the ramification in the rest of the story. The similes and imagery are skillful and one can tell immediately that Shusterman has written an incredible novel.

9. Cured (Stung Book 2) by Bethany Wiggins
 "A person can survive on sixty pounds of beans and three hundred pounds of rice a year. Dinner in the Bloom home tonight is beans and rice for the 365th night in a row. And we ran out of pepper yesterday." Well, that is... depressing, and quite dreadful to think of. So what will the narrator do to prevent the 366th night from being this way? That, I was absolutely dying to find out.

10. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
"I've been locked up for 264 days. I have nothing but a small notebook and a broken pen and the numbers in my head to keep me company. 1 window. 4 walls. 144 square feet of space." This one is gripping because of the extremely short sentences describing the narrator's cell. Of course, now the narrator wants to know why she is locked up- and what could possibly change.

What books do you think have the best opening lines?

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Boaters' Club by Deanne Baker

52416422. sy475 The Boaters' Club is a middle grade mythology book that was sent to me by the author. One day, Russian teen Matt and his friends run into Rusalka, a water zombie. Initially they hope it was just a hallucination- but when a house start catches fire and friends of theirs start losing their lives, it becomes clear that Rusalka and the monstrous mythical lizards must be stopped. Not by the police- but by Matt and his friends, Amy, Joe, and Tyler.

I enjoyed the foreshadowing, and while I could predict most of the events, it was awesome when something unexpected happened. I enjoyed learning about the Ruslka and other Russian mythology and culture, which made The Boaters' Club unique and fascinating to read. I also loved the frightening imagery of the creatures! The story was certainly terrifying at times and was very fun!

I love how each main character had extremely distinct personalities. Amy is my favorite character in the story, mostly because of Amy's involvement in commanding a scene and being a leader. She is an inspirational character and I enjoyed following her brilliant personality and her humorous, proactive approaches to troubling situations. Baba, the supernatural woman, was creepy and mystifying. I loved the wide range of emotions and character types in the story. For Matt, I was disappointed with the how his Synesthesia did not hold immense significance to the plot, and while it provided him with some internal conflict, he seemed much duller than all the other characters. However, him being the narrator with a calmer, constant temperament held the story together and allowed for more extraordinary scenes.

I recommend you read this book!

Title: The Boaters' Club
Author: Deanne Baker
Publisher: Sunbury Press
Pages: 205
Series: No
Rating: 4 Stars

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Dream Chasers (Screamcatcher Book 2) by Christy J. Breedlove

52386572. sy475 Dream Chasers is the second book in a YA fantasy series sent to me by the author. After Jory and her friends escape her dreamcatcher, the group of teens decide to create The Badlands Paranormal Society, so those in their neighborhood who also have evil spirits inside their dreamcatcher can receive help. So into another dreamcatcher they go to save those trapped inside and banish another evil spirit.

This one is super creepy and much more intense than the last! Simply reading the horrific giant insects eating them alive surrounded by snakes made me feel as if I was in a nightmare and sent shivers down my spine. The added boost of skillful imagery certainly makes this read perfect for a spooky campfire story or Halloween. It's like a voluntary, fantasy, less-evil version of Lord of the Flies- not that I'm complaining. Similarly, I appreciated the increase in violent tendencies from the characters and the darkening of the boy's personalities.

These main characters are insane for signing up for going back into another dream catcher after last time. Even if I was Jory and had a special heritage connection to these, I would have run away as fast as possible. These teens went though pure agony and never gave up. They are absolutely incredible characters. The diversity in the characters' personalities is enjoyable to say the least. Choice is the fun, comical relief from the madness, and Darcy contributed scientific facts that made the book more fascinating.

I highly recommend this book! The next book will be released in summer 2020, according to the last page of the book.

Read my review of the previous book in this series, Screamcatcher: Web World

Title: Dream Chasers (Screamcatcher Book 2)
Author: Christy J. Breedlove
Publisher: Melange Books, Fire & Ice
Pages: 240
Series: Yes, Book 2
Rating: 5 Stars

Saturday, May 9, 2020

A Death-Struck Year by Makiia Lucier

18222767I figured with the global coronavirus outbreak, this YA historical fiction read on the 1918 Spanish Flu couldn't be more timely! Teen Cleo Berry of Portland, Oregon sneaks out of her quarantined school and joins the Red Cross as a volunteer nurse, going door-to-door to save her neighbors. Experiencing first-hand the severity of the illness, Cleo sacrifices her well-being to save strangers.

Cleo is such an inspiration to humanity and I pray that there are more girls like her in the world right now. Her passion for helping people and doing the right thing no matter consequence to herself is enormous. I was so nervous for Cleo near the end! There is also surprisingly a lot of depth to Cleo, who ends up dealing with her traumatic past. Besides Cleo, it was the relationships that made this story extraordinary. The friendships and bonds that these volunteers made and the courage they gained together created the inspirational tone. Edmond is such a sweet guy, and I love the gradual increase in romantic intensity.

The amount of research and dedication the author spent on this is obvious, as the exact horrific details of the illness are described- I actually learned a ton about viruses reading A Death-Struck Year and I found it fascinating. The imagery of these people dying was astonishing and startling. I loved how this book managed to be very descriptive, but not too gory. One lesson I've learned from reading this book is knowing that viruses like the Spanish Flu and the Coronavirus pandemics are not the end of the world, despite how it may seem that way in the overwhelming moment.

I highly recommend you read this book!

Title: A Death-Struck Year
Author: Makiia Lucier
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Pages: 288
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, May 1, 2020

Gray Heart (Dark Irregular Book 3) by Kaitlyn Legaspi

52633485Gray Heart is the final book in the YA fantasy Dark Irregular series that was sent to me by the author. Gray Heart is released today! Kanna has lost her voice and her ability to feel emotion after sealing two of the Irregulars inside her body. But she has more obstacles ahead of her with the importance of sealing all four inside her. As the third nearly destroys her, Kanna must face the truth about who she really is and regain control of her own destiny before people she cares about get hurt.

The main character, Kanna, is what makes this trilogy unique, beyond writing quality, fantastic setting, or plot development. I love Kanna's passion for helping others, her sense of morality, as well as her selflessness. Her strong stance for humane treatment of everyone, including irregulars is an inspiration to all. It is understood why she is a princess- but she is also a fierce warrior to be admired. I love her bravery to continue to fulfill her legacy regardless of those limitations.

I adore how accurate the cover is to a main theme of the book, restoring Kanna's red and vibrant soul previously tainted by the Irregulars inside of her. A recurring obstacle is simply getting Kanna to wear the color anymore, and I enjoyed watching her vast internal conflict on how to still be herself despite losing her emotions and voice. When she truly unraveled and those emotions and darkness burst, it made a breathtaking climax. The series was wrapped up nicely and I am satisfied!

I highly recommend you read this series!

Click here to read my review of the previous book, White Blossom.
Click here to read my review of the first book, Dark Irregular. 

Title: Gray Heart (Dark Irregular Book 3)
Author: Kaitlyn Legaspi
Publisher: Kaitlyn Legaspi
Pages: 270
Series: Yes, Book 3 of 3
Rating: 5 Stars

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Voyagers: The Third Ghost by Yvonne Ventresca

Voyagers: The Third Ghost is a collection of 10 diverse historical fantasy short stories that was sent to me by the publisher. Voyagers will be released on May 5th, 2020!

This book is an interesting concept because not only does it introduce 10 emerging authors in a skillful publicity angle, but contains unique stories that redefine traditional historical fiction by including magical elements from time travel to talking trees. Voyagers was super fun to read and I hope that you read it, too when this book is released next month!

1. The Third Ghost by Yvonne Ventresca
This story was suspenseful and epic! I loved the twist at the end and the careful foreshadowing. Now I can't wait to read her first book, Pandemic!

2. The Ghosts of Pompeii by Sherry Ellis
This is based on Ellis' main book, Bubba and Squirt's Big Dig to China. This story was very unique in the fact that it was not only historical fiction, but mixed in elements from fantasy and scifi novels, like ghosts and time travel. Part of it was also really funny!

3. The Blind Ship by Bish Denham
I appreciate the morals of the young boy, viewing African Americans as humans and not slaves. The story is inspirational and highlights some of the terrors of slavery. This was a bizarre, wonderful story with the Opthalimia dilemma. The Blind Ship was very suspenseful and fun! 

4. Dare, Double Dare by Louise MacBeath Barbour
The genetic aspect of the magical ability to time travel was intriguing. I enjoyed the diversity with French being frequently spoken. Dare, Double Dare is also educational, as before I did not know about the Habitation at Port-Royal.

5. Return to Cahokia by L.T. Ward
The plot was super creative! I loved imagining the children creating weather and changing lives. It sounds like such a giant responsibility, being Weather Gods, and I enjoyed the abundance of painful emotion, but also hope and happiness from the characters. Return to Cahokia stands out with its Native American heritage of the Cahokia tribe and their Nahuatl language. The village is thought to have demised due to extreme weather (https://www.pnas.org/content/116/12/5461), so I love the mixing of mythology and historical fiction.

6. Feathered Fire by Ronald Clarke
Feathered Fire is my favorite story of them all. The mythical legend of the Zharptica (firebird) partnered with a powerful, inspirational female heroine in the middle of a war zone made this story epic! I loved the symbolism of the firebird and the central idea of being "reborn" from the flames, free and safe after this war.

7. The Orchard by Beth Anderson Schuck
The Orchard is the most beautiful story, a calming bliss that nature can provide. In the story, Nels is a girl who has a unique connection with nature, who can hear the trees speak to her. I found the idea lovely.

8. Simon Grey and the Yamamba by Charles Kowalski 
I read Kowalski's Simon Grey and the March of a Thousand Ghosts, so I was very excited to read a sequel of sorts! I was not disappointed. It had the perfect balance between creepy and funny. This short story was cute, satisfying, and educational in Japanese folklore.

9. A World of Trouble by Rebecca Douglass
I didn't necessarily enjoy this one as much as the previous stories, as it sent conflicting messages- on one hand, it is bad to sneak out of your house and travel without your parents at such a young age, but on the other hand without these kids, this disaster would have been a whole lot worse. However the dilemma of saving themselves and their homes from drowning was interesting to read about- I was definitely holding my breath by the end!

10. Winter Days by Katharina Gerlach
While taking place in Germany, the concept is still very relatable with border conflicts. I enjoyed the themes of family and the ideals of having the brightness in humanity inside everyone. I loved the description of almost freezing to death- I almost felt as if I was!

Title: Voyagers: The Third Ghost
Author(s):  Yvonne Ventresca, Sherry Ellis, Bish Denham, Charles Kowalski, Katharina Gerlach, Roland Clarke, Rebecca M. Douglass, Beth Anderson Schuck, Louise MacBeath Barbour, and L.T. Ward
Publisher: Dancing Lemur Press
Pages: 168
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Monday, April 20, 2020

Boon on the Moon by John Huddles

50164283. sx318 sy475 Boon on the Moon is a middle grade science fiction story that is perfect for younger readers who have an interest in space with a big imagination! This book was sent to me by the author. ten-year-old Byron, nicknamed "Boon" is always getting into trouble on Earth. From his wacky inventions to running away to explore caves, he is a handful to say the least. But when his family gets the chance to travel to a colony on the moon, Byron has the chance to redeem himself by using his creativity to save the world from a White Wormhole.

If you enjoyed Frozen Secrets, you'll love this read! The hypothetical scenario of this White Worm (wormhole theory, or formally known as the Einstein-Rosen bridge theory), was super fun to read about! I enjoy that despite how complicated the idea actually is, Huddles shaped this theory into a circumstance that actually seemed straightforward and rather simple to understand. Honestly, the pages explaining the creation of the White Worm should be on Wikipedia or Kids Britannica. This approach is also impressive and unexpected considering Huddles' track record with his recent film, The Philosophers, being a R-rated thriller. But that background was particularly useful for having an immense amount of suspense and excitement.

Boon on the Moon is a fun, creative read that can encourage curiosity and enthusiasm for science. Some of the plot was extremely unexpected and I enjoyed some of the similarities to The Martian. I enjoyed the conclusion of the book and how it summed up future generations nicely. Even if one is not a 10-year-old boy, I still liked the story with its heavy involvement in science. However, one complaint I have is that the emphasis of Bryon's overactive imagination sometimes made it slightly confusing for me to distinguish between reality and daydream.

I recommend that you read this book!

Title: Boon on the Moon
Author: John Huddles
Publisher: Notable Kids Publishing
Pages: 216
Series: No
Rating: 4 Stars

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Death by Midnight (The Secret Life of Anna Goode Book 1) by Nicole Nadeau

48860597. sy475 Death by Midnight is a YA realistic fiction mystery book that I received from the author. Anna Goode is a teenage genius and secretly uses her intelligence to build gadgets and other miscleansious inventions. When Russian terrorists kidnap her parents, they make a demand- Anna and her best friend Jake must build a bioweapon and outsmart the CIA- or else her parents die.

Jake is the best friend one could ask for. He's one of the most loyal characters I have ever read, and I love his strive to save Anna no matter the mortal danger to himself. Anna is truly remarkable, not just for her genius IQ and invention skills, but for her moral drive to save her parents and her vastly creative critical thinking skills. Her courage is extraordinary and I admire her ability to stay calm and logical in extreme situations. Everybody's moral compass is a little off, and I enjoyed the internal conflict on Anna's part of doing the right thing or getting her family back. In the coming books, I hope a romance between Anna and Jake can be explored.

Death by Midnight is quite a Goode, (see what I did there) fun read! This book is also very relevant today with the Covid-19 outbreak. It is extremely action-packed with plenty of gripping fight scenes. The fights are very detailed and are thrilling in its fast pace. My only complaint is that some of them seem a little unbelievable. I love the suspense and anxiety of the time limit and guessing the mysterious parts along the way. The writing is clean and descriptive. Death by Midnight is a story I will totally read again!

I recommend that you read this book!

Title: Death by Midnight (The Secret Life of Anna Goode Book 1)
Author: Nicole Nadeau
Publisher: Nicole Nadeau
Pages: 303
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Dust by J.R. Devoe

Dust is the first post-apocalyptic fairy tale book I received from the author. Dust is released today! In the future when Earth is mostly dead and humans mostly extinct, intergalactic pixies arrive through a magic gateway to prepare the planet for new settlers. Alien Nya, with the power to harness sonic vibrational frequencies to turn things to dust, discovers that humans still remain on Earth, and befriends a human boy, Dexa. After reporting their existence, she hopes that her kind will leave. But instead, antagonist Jexa sets to kill them. Nya decides to follow in her mother's footsteps and lead a giant rebellion against Jexa to save what is left of humanity.

Nya is courageous and one of the bravest protagonists I have ever encountered. Her drive to help humanity and do the right thing despite the serious danger of losing her life was incredible to read. I loved the inspiring message of being the spark of light in the dark and being kind to those who are different than you- something we should follow today in these dark times.

I loved Dexa's drive to save his own people, as well as Nya. I enjoyed the hint of romance between the two that I predict will be explored further in the coming installation. I enjoyed how their complex relationship did not hinder or distract from the plot development. The future scenario of a destroyed environment will quite frankly a possibility, and I enjoyed how while the book was very fantasy, there were hints of reality embedded.

Growing up, I have been obsessed with fairies and magic, so Dust was super fun for me to read. The cover is absolutely stunning and I love the magic glow surrounding Nya. Speaking of magic, the imagery surrounding her powers, especially near the end, was terrific and I enjoyed the increase of her ability and confidence in herself by the end. I loved the ending being filled with happiness and anxiousness and sadness all at the same time. I enjoy that there was a firm conclusion to keep readers satisfied, but also a gateway (no pun intended) to a huge problem with exciting promise for another story.

I highly recommend this book!

Title: Dust
Author: J.R. Devoe
Publisher: Evening Star Publishing
Pages: 217
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Signs You’re a Teen Book Lover

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. If you want to participate, click here. This week's theme is Ten Signs You're a Book Lover. This one was super fun to think of and write! Let me know in the comments what you think or have anything to add!

                                             1. You Can be Found in the Library
This one is super obvious and straightforward, but I felt I had to include it! Also, walking out of the library with books in your arms!

2. You Pay Attention in English Class
Chances are that students who choose to pay attention care about the book. Mostly students who actively participate in class discussions about the assigned book (ESPECIALLY when it's Shakespeare!) and offer valid insights took the time to read it and perhaps enjoyed it. 

3. You Insert Similes/Allusions of Literature Into Everyday Conversation
Here's an example- my friend and I were arguing/talking about violence in schools and I immediately brought up Anger is a Gift. Frequently inserting in conversations "Oh, yea, like in [book]..." or quoting from your favorite author is a sure sign! Also is when you MUST vent to your best friend about the ending of a book you just read!

4. You are Constantly Recommending Books
This ties into #3, but If you hear someone talking, for example, how they are interested in social advocacy and women's rights, do you immediately jump up and tell them to read Audacity, like I do? Or, do you constantly give book recommendations to your friends, or even teachers?

5. Your Favorite Gift is a Book (or Gift Card to Buy One)
For your birthday, or Christmas or Hanukkah, do you ask for a new book instead of a new video game or clothes? Do you search for the perfect book to give an important person in your life?

6. You are Very Upset when a Character Dies
When reading a book and a character dies, do you become very sad and maybe cry, despite them not being real? Are you very upset and feel personally impacted when an author dies? Actually, in general, do you ever have intense feelings while reading and ever become passionate or invested in a character? If so, then you are a book lover!

7. You Have Book-related Museums on Your Bucket List
If your dream vacation is going to the Library of Congress, the American Writers Museum, The National Steinbeck Center or Emerson's house, you are totally a book lover!

8. You Have Book-Related Holidays Written on Your Calendar
Do you have it written on your calendar or memorized that January 2nd is National Science Fiction Day, or that Februray 14th is Library Lovers Day or how March 1st is Read Across America Day or how December 10th is Dewey Decimal System Day? If you are excited when it is your favorite author's birthday then you are TOTALLY a book lover! (P.S.: https://bookriot.com/2018/08/29/book-holidays/)

9.  The Book is ALWAYS Better Than the Movie
If you prefer the Maze Runner or the Hunger Games or Divergent to the movie versions, no question, or refuse to even watch the movie because you know you will be disappointed, you are totally a book lover!

10. You Have Books... Everywhere!
If you can be seen carrying a book (or two) everywhere you go, chances are you are a book lover. Is your room taken up by books EVERYWHERE in huge piles?

Friday, March 27, 2020

The Lost Princess of Aevilen (Kingdom of Aevilen Book 1) by D.C. Payson

The Lost Princess of Aevilen is a YA fantasy book that will be released on May 12th. This book was sent to me by the publisher. Today is the Cover Reveal- and I must say, it is gorgeous! After seventeen-year-old Julia's home in California is destroyed by a wildfire, she must move in with her grandmother, who escaped a war-torn world with her life decades ago. When Julia finds a beautiful necklace in an old trunk, it transports her to the land of Aevilen, where her grandmother was a princess. Now, she must join a rebellion and help free her people.

The power of the necklace is mesmerizing, and I loved the imagery of its warmth and guidance; it felt truly alive, a character nonetheless. Speaking of characters, I admired Julia's strength to fight for a world that is not her own. The amount of fear and sadness felt very realistic and expected given the circumstance. I loved the contrast between her emotions near the beginning and when she is powerful and strong with its power. Thezdan’s bravery to risk his life for Julia was astonishing, and not many men would have the kindness he shows.

I liked the relevant issue of the California wildfires, and how even though this is a fantasy book, there are still themes of reality, such as ever-present social inequality. I also enjoyed how the setting was still partial to the main world, only outside modern reality. That opens a hypothetical premise of being more to the universe than we could have imagined. the imagery of the forestry was beautiful and calming. The ending was sharp and unexpected, and I cannot wait to read the next book sometime in the coming years and find out what happens to Julia!

I recommend this book! (And no, I did not only enjoy the book since the main character shares my name- that's just an added bonus.)

Title: The Lost Princess of Aevilen
Author: D.C. Payson
Publisher: Month9Books
Pages: 302
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, March 20, 2020

Cynetic Wolf (Wolfish Book 1) by Matt Ward

51048625. sy475 Cynetic Wolf is a YA dystopian book that will be released next week on March 26, 2020. I received this book from the author. In 2096 after a bio-plague wiped out the majority of the population, humanity has fractured into multiple subspecies of immortals, cyborgs, enhancers, and half-animal hybirds, like Raek- part wolf, part human. He lives with the extreme inequality and brutality from the world's government until his little sister is killed. Then, he joins the resistance.

This story was equal parts tragic and empowering. Raek's courage is extraordinary. There was lots of violence and some gruesome scenes, however Raek has such a big heart that it overpowered some of those scenes of his desperation. Raek is a tremendous, natural leader who has the world's best interest at heart. Over the course of the novel he realizes that there is no such thing as a fully equal, peaceful society- but that doesn't mean he will stop trying.

While the world created in this story differs immensely from ours, their societal values and inequalities ring true, like the cycle of poverty with unequal access to education, and the heavy values of greed. I appreciated finding those connections to "real life". The huge battles near the end felt like a Dwayne Johnson movie! The plot kept changing and almost nothing is predictable! The ending was shocking and heart-wrenching- I don't know how Ward will be able to top it with the next book!

I recommend this book and cannot wait to read the next!

Title: Cynetic Wolf (Wolfish Book 1)
Author: Matt Ward
Publisher: Myrmani LLC
Pages: 342
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten YA Books I Want To Read This Spring 2020

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. If you want to participate, click here. This week's theme is Top Ten Books On My Spring 2020 TBR. In (mostly) order of priority, these are the books that I look forward to reading the most this spring!

1. City of Beasts by Corrie Wang
For seventeen years, girls and boys have lived in separate cities. Glori Rhodes believes what society has told her, that boys are Beasts- until her mother gives birth to one. After her little brother is kidnapped, she infiltrates the City of the Beasts to get him back, and maybe unite the sexes.

2. Scars Like Wings by Erin Stewart.
16-year-old Ava Gardener just survived a fire that killed her parents, her best friend, and burnt 60% of her body. Soon, she must return to school with the help of her new friend, Piper.
50204790. sx318 sy475

3. The Grace Year by Kim Liggett
In this dystopian society, the belief is that when girls are 16, they have magic powers of aphrodisiacs- so for that year, all girls are banished into the wild and must survive on their own.
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After reading All These Things I've Done, I am ecstatic to read the second book! After Anya is released from jail, she is forced to flee the country and hide out in a chocolate farm in Mexico. But her criminal family starts catching up to her- fast.

5. A World Without You by Beth Revis
17-year-old Bo believes he has the power to travel through time, having delusions of being in the Civil War or seeing the Titanic sink. When his parents send him to a school for troubled kids, he falls in love with Sofia. When she dies, he believes that she is trapped in time, and that he can save her. He must decide whether or not to get better, or live in psychosis with the love of his life.

6. Don't Touch by Rachel Wilson
Caddie has ambitions to be an actress- and she is a good one, too. But her OCD threatens that. When she lands Ophelia in her school play of Hamlet, she must overcome her fears.

7. Jane Anonymous by Laurie Faria Stolarz
For seven months, Jane was held captive in a tiny room. After she escapes and returns home to her parents, she must find a way to deal with the trauma.

8. Echos Between Us by Abigail Johnson
Veronia has brain cancer and can't stop seeing her mother's ghost. She has accepted her eventual death and pushes everyone away. But when she meets Sawyer, she might find a reason to live.

 9. Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis
Lynn lives alone in the forest with a pond in her backyard. In this dystopian society, water is a scarce commodity- and people are willing to kill her for it.  

10. Last Night I Sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
18-year-old Zach is in rehab for alcoholics instead of high school. The other pressing issue is that he cannot remember how he ended up there or the trauma that made him start drinking to begin with.

What YA books are you excited to read this spring?

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Into White by Randi Pink

25689018Into White is a YA realistic fiction book with a fantasy twist. This book explores what happens when African American teenager Toya has enough of being bullied and prays to Jesus to make her "anything but black". The next day, she is shocked and happy to find herself a white girl with blond hair and blue eyes. But her wish comes with unexpected consequences.

I found the concept fascinating and quite relevant in society today. This book exposed the vast cultural differences between races and what it truly means to be Black or White. It is also eye-opening to understand the cultures and issues of African Americans, and the book brought up injustices and stereotypes that I was not aware of. I was surprised by the immense involvement of religion in their culture. Despite being a book on a serious topic, there was a strong element of humor present, which I loved!

Toya definitely makes some bad choices, but I loved watching her learn from them and grow. Anyone suffering from an identity crisis of their race should read this book.  Due to the amount of racism in our country, many minorities hate themselves and wish to be white, but this book proves the importance of staying true to who you are and following your family and culture, no matter what others tell you. Into White teaches one to love themselves and accept who they are.

I highly recommend this book!

Title: Into White
Author: Randi Pink
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 288
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Witch Child (Witch Child #1) by Celia Rees

Witch Child is a YA historical fiction novel with a fantasy twist. In England, 1659, teen Mary Newbury's grandmother is hung for being a witch. Mary barely escapes her grandmother's fate and hops aboard a ship for America- only to land in Salem, Massachusetts and become targeted by the Puritans. As Mary tries to blend in and become "normal", she is faced by the fact that she actually may be a true witch.

The format to make Witch Child a diary was very clever. As the writing felt so true and innocent, I was shocked to find out after googling that Mary Newbury actually did not exist. The air of mystery surrounding her was magnificent, and I love the uncertainty behind whether or not she is actually a witch. Some of the instances in which she has "powers" seem to be hasty judgements on the part of the townspeople- but then towards the end of the book I started to really believe that she does truly have magical powers. 

Something else I loved was the whole topic of the Witch Trials themselves. I enjoyed how clearly this book showcased some of the cruel attitudes of society and their stereotypes regarding outsiders. Those days were no stranger to prejudice and discrimination, and I loved those themes. There were certainly some creepy scenes near the end, and I loved the paranormal climax! The author has major talent in building suspense.

However, I did have some issues with Witch Child. In many instances the plot felt weak and at an almost boring standstill. Many themes were slightly underdeveloped. It was also difficult understand at times, and near the end, almost too bizarre. While I did enjoy the mystery of whether or not Mary is written to have powers, it made the text slightly confusing as the author's note at the end and introduction made it seem nonfiction. I think Rees could have made what genre Witch Child is more clearly.

Despite some issues, I recommend this book and I will try to read the sequel, Sorceress 

Title: Witch Child
Author: Celia Rees
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pages: 240
Series: Yes, Book 1 of 2
Rating: 4 Stars

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Ascender by Tracey Pacelli

The Ascender is a middle grade science fiction book that was sent to me by the author. The book will be released in two weeks on March 11, 2020. 12-year-old Billy Magnusson has been targeted by what he calls "The Wave" for most of his life. Symptoms appear to be similar to a panic attack, like extreme nausea and dizziness. But a distinguishing feature is that every time, something in reality changes. When he moves to a new school and joins the Ascender club, he finally finds more kids like him- and must find a way to rewrite history before the world is destroyed by it.

Pacelli has a gift for figurative language, and her imagery and metaphors were extraordinary when describing the Wave attacks. I felt empathetic towards Billie, and his sense of morality was very strong. I could tell from the first few pages that Billie would turn out to be a very human-like character. I pitied him immensely and his personal growth in courage was awesome.

The Ascender was a super fun and is an awesome leisure read- especially on a bad day as there is plenty of humor! The idea of "The Wave" is very creative, and I enjoyed trying to guess what would change next! There was also plenty of mystery and suspense, and although the world seemed a bit too far-fetched at times, the author did a nice job of reeling it back into reality and tying into main themes. The foreshadowing was epic as the book neared its end and I was upset when it did!

I highly recommend this book!

Title: The Ascender
Author: Tracey Pacelli
Publisher: Gypsy Shadow Publishing
Pages: 235
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Kitchen Privileges: A Memoir by Mary Higgins Clark

43348Kitchen Privileges is a memoir describing Mary Higgins Clark's life story and the factors that influenced her love of writing. From her poor beginnings with interesting tenants in her house to being an flight attendant, she always knew she wanted to write. But it wasn't until after she became a widow with five children to care for that she truly decided to follow her dreams.

I became anxious to read this book after learning of her passing on January 31. However I ended up being very disappointed. I am reluctant to criticize a dead person, but I must be honest- Kitchen Privileges felt rather boring and lacking in multiple areas, including figurative language and plot structure.

Clark has struggled in her life and gone through tremendous tragedy, however there was not an inspirational tone, but almost rather from a bragging standpoint of what she was able to overcome. Kitchen Privileges felt like a textbook, made of chronological facts. I cannot compare this to her other writing styles, however I can say that the story, if one can call it that, was very flat with a strong premise that ended up underdeveloped in a plain tone with a large lacking of figurative language. There was no "it" factor, nothing dramatic or suspenseful that Clark is known for.

I do not recommend this book. If you wish to learn Clark's story, just go to wikipedia- because that's what the book felt like.

Title: Kitchen Privileges: A Memoir
Author: Mary Higgins Clark
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 208
Series: No
Rating: 2 Stars

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Blog Tour: Escape Galápagos (The Wonder List Adventures Book 1) by Ellen Prager

Today is Darwin Day, a perfect occasion to participate in Dr. Prager's blog tour for her latest book, Escape Galápagos that was sent to me by the publisher. When twelve-year-old Ezzy and her younger brother Luke travel to the Galápagos to honor their mother's wish, they end up taken captive at gunpoint by illegal fisherman and poachers. Ezzy must rely on bravery she didn't know she had to not only escape alive- but to save the animals, too.

I enjoyed Ezzy's character development as she grew braver and more courageous. Initially she was terrified of the animals and seemed as an introvert. But as the book went on, she grew more comfortable around nature and the other animals. I loved watching her smile for the first time and relax around the Booby and take that one more step closer to the Iguanas and Penguins. She had many clever ideas and I enjoyed watching her come out of her shell, so to speak. I love how, despite her fear, she became moved by the idea of social activism and risked her life for those animals.

Escape Galápagos' scientific accuracy is incredible and this book is a great educational tool for young students interested in science or wildlife. I enjoyed the timely conflict of illegal fishing and the kidnapping of these precious animals. Galapagos' sharks and giant tortoises are especially in danger. For example, In August 2017 over 6,000 sharks were illegally fished and slaughtered in that area. In addition to this specific issue pertaining to that island, Prager revealed a larger problem of humanity's greed and disrespect for the planet and its wildlife.

I highly recommend this book! Prager has also written Tristan Hunt and the Sea Guardians, a middle grade fantasy series, as well as nonfiction adult books like Dangerous Earth and The Oceans. Continue reading below for an interview with the author!

Title: Escape Galápagos
Author: Ellen Prager
Publisher: Tumblehome, Inc.
Pages: 180
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars

Interview with Dr. Prager:

1. What inspired you to start writing? (ever since back in 1999 with your first Furious Earth)
"Throughout my career I have been incredibly fortunate to experience amazing science and nature firsthand and meet wonderful scientists as mentors and colleagues. Most people never have these opportunities and often to them, science is boring and hard to understand. So, I wanted share my passion for science and nature with more people, combat science illiteracy, and show that it could be done in a way to retain accuracy, be informative and yet entertaining as well."

2. How do you feel about the issue of illegal net fishing and the capture of animals? Is there anything we can do to help protect the Galapagos?
"Of course, I am strongly against illegal net fishing and the capture of wild animals for entertainment purposes - especially whales and dolphins. We need to better protect our wild places, wild animals, and biodiversity. The Galapagos National Park Directorate and their licensed naturalist system do a pretty good job protecting the Galapagos. No one can go on an island without a permit and guide (the guides must report any irregularities), they have capped the number of visitors by ships (need to do more about land-based visitors), and are improving environmental regulations as well. They do however need support to control illegal fishing, over development, and again, control of land-based tourism. Sometimes people suggest stopping tourism in the Galapagos, but I am against this. I strongly believe that well managed tourism provides an important economic incentive for the Ecuadorian government and people to protect the islands, animals, and promote conservation efforts."

3. What inspired you to become a scientist?
"I loved nature as a kid growing up and was inspired by Jacque Cousteau on the television. Then, when I discovered science and in high school - scuba diving - I was so to speak, hooked! The combination of nature, science, and scuba diving was along with great teachers and mentors what really pushed me toward becoming a scientists. I am also endlessly curious and that is, in some ways, what science is all about."

4. When did you first visit the Galapagos?
"In the 1980s, I went to the Galapagos as part of a team studying the impact of El Ninos on corals in the area. We spent two months scuba diving and doing surveys of corals to determine the impact of the strong 1982/1983 El Nino. Unfortunately, the corals in the Galapagos are acclimated to relatively cool water and during strong El Ninos the water temperatures rise. In the 1982/1983 El Nino some 95% of the corals died."

5. What advice would you give for future scientists and/or authors?
"Be pro-active, take risks, discover your passion, strengths and weakness, ask for opportunities and remember perseverance is important. Almost anything is possible with hard work, dedication and a good attitude along with the healing power of laughter."
About the Author:

Dr. Prager is a marine scientist, and author, and spokesperson on earth and ocean science issues. She currently works as a freelance writer, consultant, and science advisor to Celebrity Cruises in the Galapagos Islands. She was previously the Chief Scientist for the Aquarius Reef Base program in Key Largo, FL, which includes the world’s only undersea research station, and the Assistant Dean at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

She has appeared on The Today Show and NBC News, Good Morning America, CNN, Fox News, CBS Early Show, The Weather Channel, in shows for the Discovery Channel, and was a consultant for the Disney movie, Moana. You can learn more about her at www.earth2ocean.net.

Also be sure to check out other blog tour features!

2/12: http://kidsbookshelf.com
2/17: http://tonjadrecker.blogspot.com/
2/18: http://bookread2day.wordpress.com
2/18: http://deborahkalbbooks.blogspot.com/

Friday, February 7, 2020

What I Lost by Alexandra Ballard

31145120What I Lost is a YA inspirational story about a girl's journey to recovery from her battle with anorexia. Elizabeth is obsessed with losing as much weight as possible and achieving becoming a size 0. She is proud of herself for having the strength to keep going long hours without eating and pleasing her mother, who has the same unhealthy habits that she does. But after her body starts failing, she is taken to Wallingfield, a psychiatric hospital, where she begins the long and harsh road to recovery.

What I Lost might be my favorite YA book featuring a character with an eating disorder ever- more than Sad Perfect or Wintergirls. My favorite element of this book is the raw honesty of it. A few scenes left me near tears.

This book is extremely honest in clearly showing the signs of developing an eating disorder as well as the tips and tricks that people can use to get away with not eating- but also explains all the long-term consequences of anorexia to discourage readers from even thinking of engaging in those behaviors. Rather than focusing on the illness, however, the main goal and theme of this novel is that it is possible to heal. What I Lost preaches the idea of never being alone. I adored the journey to self-confidence and healing that the characters embark. It is certainly not easy- however What I Lost proves that those in the darkest of places can still find light and healing.

What I Lost showcases some of the proper ways to encourage watching weight while still instilling beliefs of being beautiful and building self-confidence. This would be an awesome parenting guide on how to avoid reinforcing negative thoughts. Even if one is overweight and is trying to be healthier, Elizabeth's parents and friends clearly made some mistakes. Speaking of Elizabeth's mother, she clearly had issues with eating disorders herself, whose unhealthy ideals spread to Elizabeth. I love how all the characters in this book were extremely complex and had multiple layers. I cannot pick out anything regarding the plot or setting or characters to critique- I wouldn't change a thing.

I highly recommend this book!

Title: What I Lost
Author: Alexandra Ballard
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages: 400
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, January 31, 2020

The Stranger by Albert Camus

49552The Stranger is a realistic fiction book that I recently read in my AP Literature and Composition class. Normally, I do not review books that I am required to read, however I have strong opinions regarding this book that I wish to voice. It follows the character Meursault, who committed a murder that issued him a death sentence and reflects upon the meaning of life and death. The Stranger is known for its foundations on existentialism.

For me, the most important factor in whether or not I enjoy a book is a realistic character with emotions that I can invest myself in. Meursault is perhaps the most emotionless main character I have ever read. Quite honestly, he is so apathetic that I would almost characterize him as a sociopath. All he cared about, if he cares about anything, is himself, and yet that is not even obvious as he does not have a care in the world during his trial and the death of his mother. I was not invested in his fate and by the end, I didn't exactly care about his execution. I understand that the writing of his detachment from the world around him was deliberate, however he was also detached from the audience and I was left disappointed by the lack of humanity in his soul. Now, I could still like the book if there were strong secondary characters, but even Marie felt distant and almost made of glass or shadows.

Yes, the execution was very unfair and there are good points about existentialism, but it could have been executed better. For instance, the targeted audience is confusing. It is at a seventh grade reading level, but yet full of mature concepts that are inappropriate for that audience. The Stranger was also bland and unsophisticated with a strangely simplistic sentences. There is a very narrow way of looking at life and his message at the end with life being meaningless is downplayed by Meursault’s lack of indifference and bleak, almost non-existent morals.

This book should be known for its ideas, but Camus is not a writer worth the amount of attention the book received. I was missing an "it" factor, something to excite me, but rather the book is narrated with such  monotone that it is perfect for only one task- a bedtime story.

I don't recommend this book.

Title: The Stranger
Author: Albert Camus
Publisher: Vintage International
Pages: 123
Series: No
Rating: 1 Star

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Gym Candy by Carl Deuker

1669331Gym Candy is a YA realistic fiction book that exposes the dangers of steroids and the mental/physical consequences of playing football. Mick Johnson is a Runningback for his school football team, and he has dreams of being a hero and winning games instead of being the reason the team loses- because he isn't strong enough. Fast enough. Desperate to fit and become better, he tries steroids. After that one dose, his life is changed forever and begins to deteriorate.

Gym Candy emphasizes one of the many dangers of football and one of the main reasons why I dislike the sport. Aside from physical injury, this book explores emotional and psychological damage. More than most sports, Football encourages its players to be the absolute best and is the nightmare of body image and peer pressure. The immense pressure involved in the popularity and idolization of the game leads to body image issues and a desperation to be accepted by any means possible. Football is by far the most cruel sport there is, and I love how Gym Candy thoroughly showcases these risks and consequences.

This was an extremely intense and sad books that I know will move others to change themselves and their beliefs. The end of this book can make you cry. Mick has a conscious and he is an extremely intelligent boy. He just made a mistake and became sucked into a fantasy with strong ideals that ended in catastrophe- but he is still an inspirational, good person who simply gave into peer pressure and made a mistake. Deuker will keep you on your toes until the very end, and I came to care immensely for Mick.

I cannot wait to read even more books by Deuker! I highly recommend this book!

Read my review of another book by this author, Gutless! If you are interested in other books portraying the negative effects of football, I recommend that you read Hit Count and Second Impact.

Title: Gym Candy
Author: Carl Deuker
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Pages: 320
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Odriel's Heirs (Odriel's Heirs Book 1) by Hayley Reese Chow

50245628. sy475 Odriel's Heirs is the first book in its YA fantasy series. This book was sent to me by the author and will be released on March 1, 2020! Kaia is the Dragon Heir, trusted with the power of fire. An outcast from society, she hates her ability and hides on her family's secluded farm. But after her father is kidnapped and the necromancer’s undead attack, she runs away to join up with the Shadow Heir and save Okarria.

This book's fast pace and epic battle in the first few pages surprised me, and I quickly became engrossed in Kaia's story. She had extreme inner conflict, self-hatred, and fear of her own powers. I loved her character development as she learned to embrace her fire and her destiny. By the end, her confidence in herself and her fire was so powerful that she could be a true goddess. The cover art's fire is beautiful, yet powerful- just like Kaia.

The world-building was incredible and beathaking. The village of the Maldibor Clan felt so peaceful and warm. The imagery of her fire was extraordinary and I enjoyed the graphic battle scenes. It is no wonder that the scenes of war were so amazing, considering how the author is an Air Force Veteran and reservist. Ha, maybe every war veteran should write novels!

I highly recommend this book! I cannot wait to read the next book, Idriel's Children!

Title: Odriel's Heirs
Author: Hayley Reese Chow
Publisher: Hayley Reese Chow
Pages: 332
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars

Monday, January 13, 2020

Before the Legend by J.U. Scribe

21780308Before the Legend is a short middle grade historical fiction story that was sent to me by the author. Troy, the four year old youngest son of the king of the Roman Empire, had a nightmare that there was an earthquake that swallowed his parents. Three days later, a similar event comes true and Troy must face a future without the love of his parents.

I liked the touch of Greek mythology and the historical culture.
I was also fascinated by the magic involved of Troy basically predicting the future. It will be interesting to read in the future if he has the magic ability to predict the future or not. The father's character development was extraordinary and I love how the brothers grew closer together by the end. While it was sad, it was nice to have a hopeful tone.

It took me a little less than half an hour to read, so it is great to read while taking a break from day-to-day stress. I was disappointed when it ended. This was a wonderful tale and I cannot wait to read more from this author in the future!

I highly recommend this very short story!

Title: Before the Legend
Author: J.U. Scribe
Publisher: J.U. Scribe
Pages: 52
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten YA Book Releases in Early 2020

One of the most exciting things about a new year is new books to read! Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by That Artsy Reader Girl. If you want to participate, click here. The theme for this week is Most Anticipated Releases for the First Half of 2020. The following books are in order of release date (alphabetical if same date).

1. Nameless Queen by Rebecca McLaughlin
                                              Expected Publication: January 7th, 2020
The king's daughter just became Queen- but she's a Nameless, part of a peasant social class so disrespected that they don't even have names. With a kingdom in chaos, this girl needs to make a name for herself (literally), and fight for her class.
46322138. sy475

 2. Scavenge the Stars by Tara Slim 
Expected Publication: January 7th, 2020
Amaya has been held prisioner on a debtor ship for years with no hope for escape. But one day after rescuing a stranger from drowning, he frees her and offers Amaya a life of luxary. But all Amaya wants is revenge.

3. Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore
Expected Publication: January 14th, 2020
This historical fantasy book tells the story of a magical pair of red shoes that causes uncontrollable dancing. When Rosella is cursed by the shoes, she must find the truth about what happened back in 1518 the last time the magic shoes were worn.
44218347. sy475

4. Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
Expected Publication: January 21st, 2020
Pepper's family owns the fast food chain Big League Burger, and she steals a grilled cheese recipe from a nearby deli owned by Jack's family. Soon both companies are engaged in a huge twitter war. What's ironic is that in real life, these two are falling in love with each other while destroying each other anonymously online.

5. The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper
Expected Publication: February 4th, 2020
Cal is a senior in high school with plans to become a journalist and he finally landed his dream internship at BuzzFeed. But Cal's father just got selected to travel to Mars, meaning they have to move to Houston, plus take part in a silly reality TV show. The silver lining? He's falling in love with Leon, another astronaut's son. 

6. Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis
Expected Publication: March 3rd, 2020
From author of Heroine and The Female of the Species comes a survival story similar to Hatchet. One night Ashley goes out hiking with her friends in the Smoky Mountains to a party. When she gets drunk and catches her boyfriend cheating, she runs off and trips down a ravine. She must survive with nothing but her clothes and a nasty cut down her leg.
34604348. sy475

7. The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu
Expected Publication: March 3rd, 2020
From author of Warcross, The Young Elites, and Legend comes a historical fantasy retelling the story of Wolfgang Mozart.
34213299. sy475

8. Harley in the Sky by Akemi Dawn Bowman
Expected Publication: March 10th, 2020
Harley Milano dreams of being a professional trapeze artist. After a fight with her parents who insist she stay in school, she runs away to join a traveling circus.
38326343. sy475

9. All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban
Expected Publication: March 17th, 2020
Six students who couldn't be more different are invited to a scholarship dinner, only to discover that it was all a trap, and become locked in a room with a bomb.

10. Loveless by Alice Oseman
Expected Publication: April 30th, 2020
Georgia is 18 years old and has never been in a relationship or had a crush on anyone. Now at university, coming to terms with being Aroace, she must try to find a source of happiness.
42115981. sy475

What books are you excited to read this year?
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