What I’ve Been Reading Lately

book-recommendations-wibr

 

 

I have a feeling this summer is going to be a lot of me doing shorter book talks especially since, as I talked about here, I’m going to maybe post a little less during the summer.

 

The Memory Book Lara Avery

The Memory Book by Lara Avery

I received this for review consideration but this in no way affected my opinions.

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Book Talk: Girl Against The Universe by Paula Stokes

Book Talk: Girl Against The Universe by Paula StokesGirl Against The Universe by Paula Stokes
Published by HarperTeen on May 2016
Genres: Contemporary YA
Also by this author: Liars, Inc.
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Amazon
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

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Maguire considers herself unlucky and a danger to be around after she survives, without a scratch, a fatal car accident that kills her brother and father and then a few more incidents happen in the following years that has her coming to this conclusion. To keep others safe, she stays at home a lot and tries to be around the least amount of people — all the while constantly checking for things that could be a potential hazard. When she meets Jordy at her therapist’s office he’s determined to help her see that she’s not actually unlucky and helps her to complete the tasks her therapist has helped her come up with but everything within Maguire tells her to not let Jordy get to close and risk something bad happening to him.

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What I’ve Been Reading Lately – Mini Book Talks

I had a bunch of books I read I read before vacation and then after and I’m just behind so here’s some mini book talks to let you know what I thought about some of my recent reads.

 

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The Way I Used To Be by Amber Smith

I received this for review consideration but this in no way affected my opinions.

 

About In A Sentence (ish): The Way I Used To Be chronicles the high school years of a girl named Eden who was raped by her brother’s best friend and how that night, and the pain of how deep she buries it within her, changed her whole world.

Thoughts: Oof this one hurt my heart. It was so hard to watch how the rape and keeping the secret of it slowly changes her so that she’s so far from the person she was. I enjoyed that it didn’t just show the immediate effect and aftermath but how it changed her over time in those 4 years and the lasting effects on her life. As I’m writing this I’ve following and sick to death over the whole Stanford rape case and even more furious that this guy will get six months when this girl will live with this for a lifetime. This book really showed a powerful glimpse into what rape survivors may go through though obviously everyone’s experience and reaction is different. Eden’s secret pain and the way she tries to cope with what happened to her will break your heart but her strength will leave a lasting mark on readers. Read this if you enjoyed Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn.

 

Rating:

RATING-reallyliked

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Book Talk & GIVEAWAY: You Know Me Well by David Levithan & Nina LaCour

Book Talk & GIVEAWAY: You Know Me Well by David Levithan & Nina LaCourYou Know Me Well by David Levithan, Nina LaCour
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on June 7, 2016
Genres: Contemporary YA
Also by this author: The Lover's Dictionary, Will Grayson, Will Grayson, Every Day, Two Boys Kissing, Boy Meets Boy, Everything Leads To You
Format: Hardcover
Source: For Review
Amazon
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

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Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed. That is until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way. When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other— and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.


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I am a big fan of David Levithan’s work and super enjoyed Nina LaCour’s Everything Leads To You so I was very excited to read a book co-written by the two because I know I love both of their writing and they both have this knack for these poignant stories that make me think a lot. And they certainly delivered!!

3 reasons I really enjoyed it:

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Book Talk: Tonight The Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales

Book Talk: Tonight The Streets Are Ours by Leila SalesTonight The Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales
Published by Farrer Straus and Giroux on September 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Also by this author: This Song Will Save Your Life
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Amazon
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

Arden is recklessly loyal and always has been. She cares about her friends and family and really does a lot for everybody but lately she’s feeling like she’s being taken forgranted and that maybe she loves and cares for people just a bit more than they love her. An existential google search has her stumbling upon a blog called Tonight the Streets Are Ours that’s written by a guy named Peter who ends up writing things that speak directly to her soul and who she ends up pouring over his every entry. On a whim she and her best friend take off on a road trip to find this guy whose life she feels so connected to for one wild night in the city where she learns a bit about what she needs and wants as well as the fact that Peter might not be who she thought he is.

a2*muses on internet life and curation of our lives and all the things*

a4This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales is a book I super love. Like really high up there for me. Tonight The Streets Are Ours didn’t quite make me feel like that one did but I really did enjoy this one (I mean, I read it in a whole afternoon) and it made me think A LOT about internet life because Leila weaves a lot of interesting thoughts about how we curate our lives for the internet.

[Keep Reading]

Book Talk: Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler

Book Talk: Just Visiting by Dahlia AdlerJust Visiting by Dahlia Adler
Published by Spencer Hill Press on November 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Also by this author: Behind the Scenes, Last Will and Testament
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

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Reagan and Victoria both cannot wait to graduate and leave their small town where Reagan won’t be ostracized because of a past relationship or have to deal with her parents and where Victoria won’t stand out for being Mexican and where she can pursue her dreams to do fashion design. They are in it together and started planning the post-high school life of their dreams by going on a series of college visits to choose together where they will end up. The college visits prove to be interesting. Reagan falls hard for a boy after keeping her heart pretty guarded over the past couple years but it seems like it could end in heartbreak and Victoria starts to really doubt if the path they are choosing is right for her future — something that could change the future of this friendship especially when faced with certain parts of their past they’ve kept from each other the whole time.

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*happy sigh*

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I really enjoyed Dahlia’s debut Behind The Scenes but Just Visiting blew me away and is definitely one of my most favorite contemporary YA books I’ve read this year! It’s just such an authentic story about friendship and love and that confusing time when that next stage (post-high school) is staring you right in the face. So compelling and so compulsively readable! I really just want to follow the next few years of their lives if I’m honest!

4 things that made this book such a win for me:

1.Exploring the feeling of approaching that “next stage” of your life: I feel like not enough YA books really get into the nitty gritty of the post high school tornado that happens in junior and senior year. When that next stage of your life is right before you and it’s terrifying because there are all these endless possibilities it seems and you don’t want to make the “wrong” one. Through Reagan and Victoria we see how tumultuous this time can be. Who are you? Who do you want to be? What do you want your future to look like? It’s overwhelming and I loved how Dahlia portrayed that through these two most vividly and I almost felt like I was thrown back to 2003/2004  standing on this precipice myself feeling like I’ve been thrown out into the middle of the galaxy without a map. Is college the right choice? Which one? What major? If not college, then what? Stay close? Go far away? ALL THE POSSIBILITIES.

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Book Talk: A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern

Book Talk: A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovernA Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern
Published by HarperTeen on October 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: Hardcover
Source: For Review
Amazon
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

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Emily sees Belinda, a girl from her school who is developmentally disabled, getting attacked under the bleachers and fails to act to help her. But she wasn’t the only one — a football player named Lucas also saw and did nothing to help her. The two are punished by the school when everything comes to light and are required to do community service at a classroom with disabled adults. Meanwhile, Belinda decides to come back to school after staying home for a while after the attack and is confronted by her old classmates and how things have changed in her absence.

a2Well, that was cute and heartwarming. Also, made me think a lot about the kids who I used to work with when I did Best Buddies in high school (is that still a thing in high school today??) and wonder how they were doing.

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I though this was really enjoyable and heartwarming for the most part!

What I liked:

  1. Belinda: I LOVED the chapters that were Belinda’s. IMO she WAS this book for me. Belinda is developmentally disabled and I was glad to see her actually have POV in this novel rather than her just be a main character seen through Emily. I LOVED getting to know Belinda — she was definitely one of those characters that jumped off the pages for me which was nice because the other two main characters were a bit bland for me. There was so much I loved about Belinda and I enjoyed watching her learn some important lessons just as Emily and Lucas do. My heart broke for Belinda with everything she had been through and her hurt and confusion after what happened. I hated the microaggressions against her (even by adults!!) and the way she was laughed at by classmates or not given a fair chance because she was developmentally disabled. I worked with Best Buddies in high school and got to know a lot of the students in the special education classes and I wanted to rip throats out to anyone who was unkind to them or tried to get these students to things for a laugh or just didn’t treat them like people. I wish all students were required to spend time with these students so they could see them as PEOPLE.
  2.  The romance was cute: It wasn’t anything spectacular but I tend to enjoy romances where people don’t necessarily like each other at first or have misjudged one another and then SEE each other for who they are rather than who they were thought to be. I liked their conversations and their awkwardness.
  3.  “The message” — I hate calling it THE MESSAGE because like it sounds so cheesy. But I really did love how the story helped the characters learn some important lessons: like how wrong your judgements  about a person can be, to be kinder to those who you presume are different or whom you don’t understand, to stand up for what is right, how dangerous silence can be and how complicit you still are in that, and how important it is to stand with and up for those whose voices are silenced by society, are marginalized or not taken seriously. While sometimes all this was preachy and like HERE IS A LESSON, I genuinely did feel like Emily and Lucas did learn from Belinda and the classroom they had to volunteer in and it was shown in a thoughtful, realistic manner. It was a good reminder for myself to even think about how I treat people and think of people.

[Keep Reading]

Book Talk: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Book Talk: Dumplin’ by Julie MurphyDumplin' by Julie Murphy
on September 15, 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Also by this author: Side Effects May Vary
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

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Willowdean has always been the fat girl and she’s always been pretty okay with that despite the normal teenage insecurities. It’s never been a THING for her. Until she gets a job and crushes on one of her hot co-workers who totally ends up liking her back. And then insecurities and what people think get the best of Willowdean and makes her second guess herself and if Bo could really like her. So she decides to remind herself of how confident she is and enters a beauty pageant (that her mother is the coordinator of) — an act that sparks a little bit of a revolution when a couple of other girls, who are inspired by Willowdean’s bravery, to join with her despite them not looking like the usual beauty pageant contestant.

a2WILLOWDEAN, PLS BE MY FRIEND!

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This is definitely one of my most favorite books of 2015 and I want everyone to meet Willowdean! She’s definitely one of those characters you want to wish into existence so that you could be friends with her. There are a whole lot of adjectives I could use to describe her but really you just need to meet her. And the best thing about this book? As much as she is this dazzling star of this novel, she has so many other supporting characters in this book that shine equally as much in different ways. It’s just packed with amazing characters — especially females. I loved the girls who do the beauty pageant with Willowdean and I love how they all learn from each other and find friends they didn’t know they needed in their life. One of my FAVORITE scenes involves these ladies and some Dolly Parton awesomeness.

Sometimes it feels as if it’s hard to find body diversity within YA. It’s rare when I come across a ~fat~ main character and even more rare when that book isn’t solely about that person’s struggle with their weight or is trying to lose weight. Those are super important stories. Stories that need to be heard. But it’s really hard to find a fat main character who is fairly confident about being fat/isn’t really looking to change themselves or at least is no more insecure about being fat than about other things we as ladies get insecure about — which is also important and is a voice that needs to be heard. And the one thing about Willowdean in Dumplin’ is that she’s pretty okay in her skin and her being fat isn’t the biggest deal to her. She’s confident yet, like most girls, still has her insecurities and self consciousness that comes with being a teenager. She doesn’t really have a problem being the fat girl (aside from the crap from other people about it). Being fat is just a part of who she is — just a piece of her. Until she gets a boyfriend. A guy she thinks people will perceive is too good for her based on looks alone. And then nagging insecurities come full force and mess with her head threatening to break that confidence.

It is so, so relatable whether or your ~thing~ is your weight or a stutter or a flat chest (hello, me…I’m almost 30 weren’t my boobs supposed to show up by now lols) or a big nose or whatever. We see this vulnerability within Willowdean that shows just how hard it is to be confident of the things you love about yourself when the world makes it so easy to let those self-conscious feelings or insecurities attach themselves to you like a leech that just sucks your confidence blood supply dry and possibly make you feel like you need to CHANGE (because people say you should) or loathe yourself. And I loved how the beauty pageant was her way of proving to herself and others that you don’t have to be a certain way to deserve to be on the stage of a beauty pageant, to deserve love, to deserve to feel beautiful, etc. etc.

God it was just such a great coming of age story that seamlessly delved into so many things in addition to the body positivity and self-acceptance. Willowdean is dealing with the first real loss of her life — her aunt who meant a lot to her and was someone she was closest to. I loved how Julie Murphy portrays a lot of common teen experiences — crushing on someone, falling in love, heartbreaks, shifting best friend dynamics, feeling like your mom just doesn’t GET you etc. It’s just such a delightful and REAL story with strong messages that never feel like they are hitting you over the head. Just straight up REAL TALK through the plot and dialogue that is thought-provoking and I still have a few passages that have stuck with me.

 

a6RATING-loved-it

factors(+ )characters, writing, storyline, lols, overall message
(– ) Nothing really that I can think of.


a5contemporary YA/realistic fiction fans, readers looking for body diversity & body positivity, readers who want a book that brings the lols and the sentimental feels, readers looking for strong female friendships

a8Dumplin’ was just an altogether delightful read that made me laugh out loud at times and put my hand to my heart and sigh. I enjoyed the ~message~ about loving your body and recognizing how worthy you are of love and feeling beautiful and other good things — no matter what your body looks like. I loved Willowdean and think she’s truly something special!

review-on-post-it

Dumplin' Julie Murphy

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
I’m really looking for more books with diversity when it comes to body type! Any suggestions?

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

Book Talk: A Million Miles Away by Lara Avery

Book Talk: A Million Miles Away by Lara AveryA Million Miles Away by Lara Avery
Published by Poppy on July 7, 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Also by this author: The Memory Book
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Amazon
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

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When a girl loses her twin sister in an accident she is naturally devastated. She realizes that her sister’s boyfriend has no idea about her death because he is in Afghanistan on a tour. She has intentions of telling him but when she does get to connect with him she doesn’t have the heart to tell him, for a couple reasons, but mostly in that moment she sees how hard things have been over them for him. She lets him believe she’s her sister but lines start to blur when she starts to have real feelings for him.

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The marketing copy says “for fans of Nicholas Sparks” and I have to say I felt like that was pretty accurate. It was definitely the emotional drama type read I needed for the pool and I breezed through it though I felt SICK to my stomach the whole time as I was reading and she strung this lie out. This is one of those books from the onset that you are like OH GIRL THIS IS A BAD IDEA. I mean, impersonating your dead twin to her boyfriend who is overseas in the military? EEP. ALERT ALERT. HORRENDOUSLY BAD IDEA.

The bad decision she makes doesn’t even bother me that much. I believed it. That sometimes in the moment, especially when grieving, you could make a really bad choice. I understood that it made her FEEL something to feel like she was doing something good for him and also kind of denying that her twin was gone in some ways. I understood how sometimes you get yourself tangled so badly in a lie that you don’t know how to get out of it with the least amount of damage. I was like OH GIRL STOP THIS but I couldn’t stop reading because I truly was invested in her grief and how the story would play out. I enjoyed watching the dynamics of her family as they were trying to grieve as well.

I was digging the book but then slowly my feelings started to wane as we get closer towards the end and things happen with the ~romance~ between Peter and Kelsey. I can’t explain it without spoilers so just know that how it all ended up made the difference from it being okay to my next notch up on the rating scale.

So here’s my super spoilery explanation for what irked me:

View Spoiler »

 

a6RATING-mixed
(I was going back and forth between it was okay and mixed feelings to be honest. But typically my “it was okay” doesn’t have me feeling such strong negative feelings about a big aspect).

factors+ how compulsively it made me read, writing, the grief explored & the family dynamics
–  THE ROMANCE, THE ENDING

Re-readability: no
Would I buy a copy for my collection? no

a5people looking for a Nicholas Sparks-esque book, people looking for a romantic beach read you’ll race through, people who aren’t bothered by predictability

a8It was no doubt a compulsive read that was perfect for the beach but I just really didn’t enjoy the romance and the ending even though I should have realized that it was going to be predictable. I did enjoy the story up until then and the grieving process she goes through really had me emotional.

review-on-post-it

a-million-miles-away

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
What did you think about the ending if you’ve read it?? Mark spoilers in the comments please! 🙂

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

Book Talk: City Love by Susane Colasanti

Book Talk: City Love by Susane ColasantiCity Love by Susane Colasanti
Published by Katherine Tegan on April 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Also by this author: All I Need
Format: Hardcover
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

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Three girls move in together to an apartment in NYC the summer before their freshman year and gear up for their first taste of freedom and being on their own.

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a4I wanted to love this one so much. It had the makings to be a total Jamie book — great NYC setting, set the summer before college, new friends/roomies — but it just wasn’t at all. In the first chapter or so I was digging the “look at all the possibilities spread out before us/yay grand new adventure” vibe and all the traipsing across the city was making me want to be back in New York. And then I kept reading and it just wasn’t at all what I thought it was going to be.

Here’s why:

1. I was honestly bored through most of it — I was expecting this to be a whirlwind summer of new adventures and just trying to figure your shit out. I eat that stuff up. Instead I just found it dragging on and didn’t really find myself enjoying it. I should have put it down but I didn’t bring another book to the pool so I was COMMITTED. I will say that closer to the end things got REALLY interesting to the point I was devouring it but most of the book I was just bored. I mean, the timeline for this book is really short so it’s not like SO MUCH STUFF is going to happen but that’s also why I felt iffy about how much the romances dominated everything in that short time which I’ll talk about below.

2. I thought there was going to be a greater emphasis on the friendships but no: I was really thinking there were going to be some good friend dynamics with this roomie situation and honestly most of this book was about random boys they meet in like the first 5 days they are there and fall hard for (wow how lucky that all 3 just happen to find these dudes so quickly. THAT NEVER HAPPENED TO MY FRIENDS AND I). I can understand that sometimes people are just your roommates and you aren’t bffs with them but the vibe I got from the summary would lead me to believe it was more about the friendships, too. But it also did seem to act like the friendships between the roommates were so great but we got such a shallow view of it in my opinion of it. So, this was more of an expectation thing that let me down. I thought it would be a great friendship  book but no.

3. Ugh the romances: I love romances and love stories and the swoons. YOU KNOW THIS. But none of these inspired any swoons or anything other than UGH. Like at least if I didn’t get the friend dynamics I was hoping for I was hoping I’d at least get some good romance if that was what it was going to focus on. The one romance DID take a turn for the interesting but I just still wasn’t invested much at all. I don’t mind insta-love or attraction in lots of cases because I find it to be very realistic (I mean I thought I was in REAL LOVE like 100 times as a teen let’s be real) but I think I just really didn’t dig that the romance was the MAIN THING going on in this novel when there was so much other stuff to explore and the romances didn’t even feel like anything special enough to incite any feels in me.

4. The 3 POVs blended together so much for me: The 3 girls had such different and interesting backgrounds and stories but honestly when I was reading their voices sounded the same. For how different they all were, their voices were not distinct in my mind at all. At certain points I had to really thing like, “okay which girl’s chapter is this??”

 

a6RATING-Not-a-fan

factors+ NYC setting, the concept of this novel (and planned series)
–  expectations of what I got vs. what it was, not shipping any of the romance, blending of the main characters voices, finding myself bored

Re-readability: No
Would I buy a copy for my collection? No
Do I plan on reading the sequel?
Probably not unless I hear AMAZING things. I do want to know what happens just out of curiosity but not enough to read it.

a5maybe people looking for a really, really fluffy romance for the beach (but bring a backup just in case!), people looking for a book set in NYC, younger teens maybe (maybe it will seem more glamorous and romantic than it did to this lady?)

a8It pretty much comes down to my expectations for what I thought this novel was all about –new adventures, taking a stab at independence, friendship, that moment in time before college where there are infinite possibilities, some romance — and what it actually was/how it was executed which was basically a whole lot of romance and pretty skimpy on the other stuff I had hoped for. I knew to expect romance (what I am so normally there for) but I expected more than JUST that. In addition to my expectations,  I just didn’t even enjoy the romance storylines and found the POVs to blend too much together. I think there’s so much to explore with the concept of this series but the first book just didn’t do it for me.

review-on-post-it

city love susane colasanti

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
Based on what I had HOPED this book would be like, do you have any recs?

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

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