Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

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I’ve had this book for a few years now and it’s been sitting quite patiently in my TBR pile waiting for me to pick it up, muttering “to hell with it”, and get on reading. The fact that I’ve got books dating back to Christmas 2013 in the TBR pile is a fact I haven’t really accepted as wrong yet. I’ve got this theory that some books you’re just not ready for. Canterbury Tales? Not there yet. War & Peace? My stamina is not yet that advanced. Count of Monte Cristo? Auntie DeeDee: I will read it.

I’ll get there; I am still a young Padawan.

Anywhoo.

So Eleanor & Park has been quite patient with me and I final read it. My reluctance came from trying to juggle my study schedule, and then going through a phase of feeling I was too grown and stuck up to read such mere teen novels, then my best friend read it and hated it and so its been neglected. Apologies Rainbow. Also I read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, which everyone seemed to love and constantly rave about, but I just didn’t think it was all that, so I worried that Eleanor & Park, which is always raved about, wouldn’t live up to its ravings. Add some more reluctance into the equation.

BUT I READ IT.

It was so so good.

After reading Gulliver’s Travels, this was a breath of fresh air to relax the mind and just get lost in a swirly curly romance. Now I know I’m only 18 and probably haven’t got a clue what I’m saying most of the time but this one reminded me what is was like to be young and in luuuuurve. (I can hear you adults yelling from the distance “You are still young!” Away wit ye; I am being an angsty teen.) But the simple bursting with excitement because ohmygod-he’s-holding-my-hand, and the absolute amazement of how such a simple gesture could be transformed into something magical by that special person was just fantastic to remember. It was so innocent and new and nostalgic back to the love-of-my-teen-life and it was gooey and fluttery and something to relax the mind.

“I just want to break that song into pieces, and love them all to death.”

It also brought to light all the social issues we realize as teens from our body image to racism to tackling stereotypes and abuse. I’m thanking Rowell for this little gem where I felt she was actually writing about real people, not superficial characters which happen just by chance to be petite and perfectly built. It was nice for a curvy girl who doesn’t fit in and a boy who wears makeup to be our protagonists and for both of them to not pretend they’re normal. They aren’t; they’re cool with it and so is the reader.

There is so much discovery explored in this book, which essentially defines our actions as teenagers finding out who we are and want to be.

“She never looked nice, she looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”

Rowell, I’ll give you this one.

“…and his eyes were so green they could turn carbon dioxide into oxygen.”

I have no idea why I love this quote!

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

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“I’m starting to think you like prisons,” he says, idling knocking his knuckles against the wall. “And that you have the worst taste in men.”

I’ve been really excited about talking about this one!

SPOILERS AHEAD.

Back in June, I read the first installation to this series Red Queen, following my intense AS level exams which I proceeded to fail. Nevertheless, really enjoyed this book and said I would definitely be reading the second installment, also stating I was poor and couldn’t afford to buy books.

Well, I bought the book and still poor.

And Glass Sword… woah.

Prior to reading this I skimmed through some goodreads reviews and upon meeting numerous negative takes, was preparing for an O K A Y read.

Well, I loved it.

It was different and everything I wanted from the series (if not enough when it came to the finale WHAT THE HELL GUYS HOW COULD YOU DO THAT VICKY?), was fluffy and nerve wracking and overtime they went into a city my fingers were gripping the pages praying that nobody died.

Mare’s character has really come along way since when we met her at the beginning of Red Queen, a focus which grows through the book as we watch Mare, frankly get darker and darker until we don’t trust her.

I don’t trust her.

I was a tad disappointed with the simple lack of attention to poor Kilorn and I’m sure he feels the same.

The “romance” if you can even call it that, between Cal and Mare was frustrating. Mostly because its difficult to see a future for them where they are set on equal ground. I love Cal, probably my favorite character of the whole series and I just felt so so so sorry for him this entire book.

Damn, if Mare doesn’t want him; I’ll happily relieve that burden from her shoulders.

Hated Maven, but that’s standard.

CAN NOT BELIEVE SHE KILLED SHADE.

HOW DARE SHE.

MY JAW HIT THE BLOODY BASEMENT FLOOR. (not that I have a basement)

And Farley is defo preggo right guys?

Need the next book now.

No joke.

I am going to end up homeless on the street living in a book igloo.

“Every single thing I did, you stood behind me,” I say. “If I’m turning into a monster, then so are you.”
“Love blinds.”

 

Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider

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This book is literally The Fault in Our Stars meets Looking For Alaska ALL OVER.

Reading this was like a blast from my very angsty past, with slamming doors after breakups and Facebook posts I would have fangirled over it in my early tweens.

For a young reader, full of angst (its okay!) this is your ticket out of here.

An easy read which I started and finished today, as a means of escape (ANGST), this book was great. The story was and interesting twist on two ideas merging together.

The plot, at times, felt patchy and the ending gave me the impression of trying to be like so many other teen novels… I was upset by the lack of closure; with little positivity and a bucket full of hormone filled, almost epiphany quotes to sum it up. I wanted to know how our characters ended up. Also, wanted to know more about their backstories with lead them to their fates.

An okay read.

Neh.

 

A brief spread on Shatter Me & Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

I have mixed feels for these books; the characters and style of writing. I believe it is creative, new and young. Different, we’ll say.

Hmm… Where to begin?

I’ll start with some of the shocking lines from Shatter Me, a book which to be fair, I pretty much hated and couldn’t wait to finish. My face throughout the whole experience was something close to what Ron Wealsey’s face looked like when they follow the spiders in Chamber of Secrets.

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Yeah; it was that bad.

I always wonder about raindrops.

I wonder about how they’re always falling down, tripping over their own feet, breaking their legs and forgetting their parachutes as they tumble right out of the sky toward an uncertain end. It’s like someone is emptying their pockets over the earth and doesn’t seem to care where the contents fall, doesn’t seem to care that the raindrops burst when they hit the ground, that they shatter when they fall to the floor, that people curse the days the drops dare to tap on their doors.

I am a raindrop.

My parents emptied their pockets of me and left me to evaporate on a concrete slab.

Yeah… that’s called raining.

I AM A RAINDROP.

Sorry.

I am nothing but novocaine. I am numb, a world of nothing, all feeling and emotion gone forever.
I am a whisper that never was.

Aha…

(*coughs*dramaticmuch?*coughs*)

He leans back against the couch. Runs a free hand over his face. Seasons change. Stars explode. Someone is walking on the moon.

Just… what? Who’s walking where? I thought he just sat down?

METAPHOR OVERLOAD.

Now I could have accepted the odd burst of fantastical creativity through literary license; the main character Juliette is in an asylum and slowly losing her mind, but the extent of the crossing out and the repetition, frankly drags. I kind of just want to bellow at Mafi “WE GET IT; YOU’RE CREATIVE.” 

But I won’t be too harsh on her; this author isn’t even 30 so I guess she’s still finding herself, right?

 

Shatter Me was just a bit of a disaster; a little bit of this and oh I’m in love with him, ooh raindrops oh no he’s dying cry cry cry oh I saved him and now I’m wearing a purple suit and all I want to do is make out with my weird ass boyfriend (who either has the personality capacity of a spoon or cardboard box; I haven’t decided yet) and mope around with my feelings ooh my feelings.

So yeah.

But I’ll give the girl some credit; Unravel Me is BETTER.

Yeah, at times I just want to kill Juliette (sorry), but it feels like we’re finally getting somewhere with Mafi’s writing! There is more of a story present and plot twists that actually came out of bloody nowhere and I LIKED IT. There were still some questionable choices though;

I want to study the secrets tucked between his elbows and the whispers caught between his knees.

Okay; I’m sorry but who whispers between people’s knees? Gynecologists? This is a dude who’s elbows have secrets…

Just… why?

Actually every time I read this line I burst out laughing.

But then Mafi’s creativeness really does pay off through Unravel Me at times.

“So much of it was like seeing myself on paper,” he whispers. “Like reading all the things I never knew how to say.”

I’ll give her that one. It was gooey and I liked it; don’t fault me, I am still young.

It’s the kind of face no one believes in anymore. 

Ahh…

Terror waves hello to me.

See! Now that last one gave me shivers and it was clever without trying too hard.

There is so much sexual tension in Unravel Me to the point I felt abused just reading it literally; WHOA I thought this was fluffy innocence and cheesy romance? I have to say I’ve got a problem with how Juliette sudden (SO GODDAMN SUDDENLY) falls in love with the man/boy who tortured her and her friends and kills for fun in the first book. Just what? I feel like Mafi had a change of heart on who she wanted as a villain and expected the reader to just go along with it. Don’t get me wrong; all the romantic stuff was good, but I felt it was so uncalled for.

Also damn her; I’ve now added a psychotic killing machine (who’s broken inside; go figure) to my list of ever growing fictional boyfriends.

I didn’t love this; I really didn’t. But it’s getting better and I always loved reading authors who grow with me (occasionally on me); so I’ll be finishing this book series out of curiosity as well as the books looking so pretty on my bookshelf; I mean cover artist: you da bomb.

I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

6/10

Before I read this bright book, I had been bathed in many praises of the novel from online Bookstagrammers, and the cover kept popping up all over my feed. So I read a little bit about it; seeming like a typical YA read, marking similarities to John Green who I hold in high praises. But the cover was pretty; I could’ve done with an easy read so I dove into my poor student pockets once again. *sighs*

I read this ultimately summer novel back in November (yeah), and I promise you, I was engrossed by around page 3. I’d like to appreciate this book not just as a piece of writing but as such a creative piece visually. I mean, look at those pages!

Instantly liking both Noah and Jude, as they turn from the innocent kids you just want to protect and watch live a happy life, into dark and twisty teenagers who are just so lost and who you want to save. There is an certain theme of mystery against the storyline, where our narrators lie to each other and even to the reader; so that the most heartfelt betrayal is felt by both the characters and readers.

No, seriously; there’s a part where I gasped and yelled into my empty bedroom: “WHAT?! NO! HOW COULD YOU?” It’s brutal, trust me.

There are so many characters in this novel; few, if any, being truly happy. All of our characters have issues; big, oh-that’s-so-tragic issues. I’ll Give You The Sun is about broken people who when together can survive. Yes, yes cheesy I know; but true.

*Rendition of High School Musical’s ‘We’re All In This Together’

I’ve veered, a little.

This book fascinated me on a personal level as well; in regards to twins. I’ve always wanted a twin; being an only child for 11 years, and my mum being half a set of twin. I’ve always been in close proximity to them and the frankly weird crap that goes on between twins. Jude and Noah would give each other a piece of the world; for example; “I’ll trade you the moon and stars for the ocean.” They owned the world in their minds; hence the title I’ll Give You The Sun.

“”I love you“, I say to him, only it comes out “hey.”

So damn much,”he says back, only it comes out “dude.””

My favorite quotes from this book go on forever.

“This is what I want: I want to grab my brother’s hand and run back through time, losing years like coats falling from our shoulders.”

I don’t feel I’ve given our author enough credit here. This book is beautifully written with metaphors and similes which stopped me in my reading tracks to actually think about them and smile. This book, I felt, was a little young for me and would have rocked my 13 year old world; but still; effective none the less.

“”He has a very strange face; I don’t know if you notice. God was very drunk when he made him. A little bit of this. A little bit of that. Brown eye. Green eye. Crooked nose, crooked mouth. Lunatic smile. Chipped tooth. Scar here, scar there. It is a puzzle.””

I enjoyed this one; I really did. There was a questionable decision at the end but I can overlook it if I try hard enough.

Reading this felt like what I imagined being in the mind of a stoned artist would feel like.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

 

Ahoy, SPOILERS AHEAD.

So, I’ve read the much-read Red Queen and… it really was quite enjoyable for a wind down read after probably the most intense set of exams I’ve had. It was simple and gripping and easy YA reading.( How much red and read can I get into this?)

At first I was ready to accept a classic romance story much along the lines of Cinderella, I had written it off already, accepted it; but boy, was I pleasantly surprised.

IT WAS SO MUCH MORE.

This needs to be said:

This may contain romantic notions but by no means is this a romance novel.

And it was savage at times, to be fair. A lot of hardcore killing what with the last lines of the book being “I will kill him.” Very cheerful. Altogether not a bad read. I knew I would love Cal from the moment he said “Thief” with surprise. And I just knew we couldn’t trust Maven. I just knew it in my gut.

I found myself finding symbols which represent other dystopian novels, and honestly; this is like a really funky fanfiction of them all. Which is enjoyable if you’re not looking for a serious read.

So, yes I will be investing in book two; Glass Sword. Another author I shall now damn for raiding my poor student pockets of funds. (Help me buy books; I’m poor. 😦 ).

Oh, and I’ve just discovered a few novellas. Double damn you, Aveyard.

I was team Cal from the beginning and I hope that picks up again and at the end, her and Cal live happily ever after. Here’s hoping.

But I hope we get some more Kilorn action out here. And I am literally a representation of Mare’s (who’s name I want spelled Maree) geeky friend who’s got a mega crush on her big brother, Shade. I like Shade. Shade hasn’t done much except exist but I like Shade; Shade’s good. Looking forward to some more Shade action.

Seeing as this isn’t Game of Thrones and I can’t ship incest to ship Maree and Shade… although there was a book or two between the Mortal Instruments Series in which we did ship Clace when they were brother and sister…well.

Definitely Team Cal up in the house.

6/10

I’m Ed’s Grateful Ex: The Twilight Saga

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Seeing as there is a new Twilight book out, it only seems fair that I give the series a little credit. Twilight for me opened the doors to Young Adult and even when I look back on it now and cringe a little, I still can’t bring myself to hate it. My copies are mismatched, missing dust covers and the spines are broken fatally. I read this series continuously and I really should pick it up again one day….

In the very, very distant future.

HOWEVER.

The saga is everything I aspire NOT to be. The saga represents EVERYTHING a young teenage girl should not want from a relationship and the limits of her abilities.

Let me explain.

I got into Twilight through the film franchise- yes I know; very cliche; I’ve heard it all. But I did. I was 11 years old. I watched it once… and I then turned it back on and watched it again. I then read the book, followed by many companion reads which I donated happily to the charity shop as soon as I could.

When we meet Edward in the first book, all the mysterious oo-aaah, and bronze-orange-gold-amazing-caramel hair/eyes captivated me (I WAS 11!). For me at that age, all the mystery and romance was great.

I fell in love with the idea of Twilight and Edward Cullen especially, like any other 11 year old girl I knew. And throughout the years I read all of the books a few times over, and by the time the last film was released it had fallen out of fashion for me; I was over Edward Cullen and Twilight.

It’s only been in the last couple of years that I’ve realised just how unhealthy the saga was. Edward leaves his obviously unstable girlfriend- like what the hell Bella, you are literally the Overly-Attached Girlfriend meme- to then go and attempt to commit suicide following her presumed death. Unstable much?

But my main issue with Twilight is not with the men of this saga, but with Bella; our protagonist who really is more our antagonist.

I have a few points.

  • Loses the will to live after being rejected and left by Edward, entering a stupor for a good 6 months, only to be awakened by having hallucinations of seeing him which she achieves by putting herself in dangerous situations. For example; getting on the back of a random rough biker’s motorcycle (yes that actually happened) and jumping off cliffs (yes that happened, as well). There was also a pretty crazy storm going on.
  • Chooses her boyfriend over family; on multiple occasions. (“Oh, but Edward…”)
  • Agrees to marry Edward on the condition that they have sex after they get married.
  • Abandons all plans (and doesn’t really want it, anyway) to go to university.
  • Instead has a baby, almost killing herself in the process to become a vampire; which is all she wanted in the first place (to never grow old; she’s got issues with her age- SHE TURNS 18).

Yes, this is Bella.

LIKE. 

UGH.

As much as these things do happen in ‘real life’, (except the vampires)  I don’t believe that they should be encouraged and represented as positive motifs of love through a Young Adult novel straight into the mind of a young girl, which is where Twilight was aimed at. The morals on which happiness lies with a beautiful boyfriend is not the strong willed voice of women that our society wants to solidify.  In heavy contrast against Hermione Granger; Bella is everything we shouldn’t be. Twilight was two steps back for feminism and equality.

I thought we lived for educated and career driven women? Why couldn’t Bella do both? And why, if Twilight couldn’t promote that message, was it one of the biggest fandoms with so much praise? Are we moving forward or backwards here?

I want nothing more than a strong career and a comforting family. Its possible. So why didn’t it happen?

So, yes. I’m over Edward; I’m over Twilight. And I’ll read it again in a few years, probably sometime after I graduate Medical School. It opened my mind back then, I’m glad it did; so I can aspire to be everything Bella wasn’t. I don’t hate Twilight, I don’t love it. It was a learning curve.

 

 

 

 

John Green Collection

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I made it my mission to collect all of John Green’s books and it even ended up on my bucket list! Safe to say, I ticked it off!
My TFIOS copy is so beat up, I’m surprised the pages aren’t falling out like leaves, but I guess that’s what to be expected after reading it so many times. I absolutely love John Green’s TFIOS. 7/10

I loved Paper Towns and it really got me into contemporary genre that I hadn’t touched on yet, now I love it. 7/10.

I enjoyed immensely, Will Grayson, Will Grayson, it’s such an interesting idea that I feel really promoted gay equality at that time. I recommend it. I give it 6/10.

Let it Snow is not a book I would have picked up if John Green’s name wasn’t tacked onto the bottom of it, now I know that’s biased but nobody’s perfect. I enjoyed it nonetheless and it made me feel quite happy about Christmas time, I’m quite soppy when it comes to all that. I give it 5/10.
But, I can’t say I loved Looking for Alaska, at that I can almost here the gasps of horror for this much loved novel but, I have to be honest! It just didn’t jump out at me as much as Paper Towns or The Fault in Our Stars did. Most of the characters annoyed me and I didn’t really relate to the book. Don’t get me wrong, it had some great quotes but I just didn’t love it.  I feel like I might have enjoyed it more if I had read it before Paper Towns which it is very similar to; but Paper Towns trumps this.I give it 5/10.
And to finish, An Abundance of Katherines. Hands down, I disliked this book. I was very excited to read it and I was throughly disappointed. The main character made me want to scream and think “WHO WOULD DATE THIS GUY ONCE LET ALONE 19 TIMES?” and the abundance (see what I did there?) of math just bored me. Honestly, I would have preferred to have read the book from his best friend’s perspective. 4/10
JOHN GREEN IS A GENIUS THOUGH. I HAVE AN ABUNDANCE OF LOVE FOR JOHN GREEN.

I feel like John Green is such a human author. He writes about real humans with real flaws and real problems and is probably to me, THE ULTIMATE Young Adult writer around at the moment if not in history. Whilst reading these books in my mid-teens I just felt like John Green got me.

So thanks dude, you’re cool.

Also his brother is an absolute babe for his FANTASTIC Biology videos on YouTube. Thanks Hank!

http://johngreenbooks.com

 

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

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8/10
I was really excited to read this book. I bought it before entering hardcore study mode for my IGCSE’s and was counting down the days until exams finished and I could delve into my books again and this was at the top of the pile.
What a lovely read.

Jennifer Niven has really captured the personalities of her characters superbly and on more than one occasion, as usual; I was reduced to tears. I fell in love with Finch. I literally FELL IN LOVE. You get connected and the first lines he speaks are such different ones compared to the usual dramatic stuff, his lines captured me.
I was hooked, and I mean, HOOKED by around page 5, at which I was curled up on the sofa and shouted to my mum in the kitchen:

“MUM THIS BOOK IS GONNA BE SO GOOD. LISTENTOTHISPART.”
I have recommended this book over and over again to anyone who will sit next to me long enough and have marked it as a book I intend to keep forever. I find it hard to hate any characters here.

“The future can be uncertain, but that can be a good thing.”

is my Instagram bio and stolen easy from this book.
BUT MY FAVORITE QUOTE
GOSH.

Has to be this one because after I read it I stopped, smiled, read it again, then wrote it on my wall.

“He doesn’t look up, just reaches for my hand and keeps reading. I can feel the apology in his fingers.”

FEEL THE GODDAMN APOLOGY IN HIS GODDAMN FINGERS.
By The Angel…
I loved this book! Go and read! I’m not asking; I’m using a bloody imperative sentence mood! GO AND READ THIS.

I feel like this book is infinitely important to our society and the growing awareness of mental health issues which in the past have been disregarded and thrown to the side with the label ‘crazy’. The fact this is classed as Young Adult, opens up doors to a new generation, one I feel; more aware of our identities than the previous generation.

I write this in the light of Niven releasing her second novel Holding Up The Universe in October later this year, which is on my to-buy list; from her writing in All The Bright Places I’ll definitely be investing more into her writing.

http://www.jenniferniven.com

We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach

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5/10
I can’t say I fell in love with this book as soon as I opened the front page, or as soon as I read the back of it. In fact, I did quite a shallow thing and purely bought it on the basis that the cover was pretty and I had seen other people reading it. Maybe that was what made me read it, because even those who had read it had not rated it extremely well; and for me, whenever I see a book that has been given bad reviews, I see it as a challenge for the book to impress me. Tell me something different.
However this wasn’t exactly the case. Unfortunately. The story line and plot is all a bit jumbled and not organised (I think), in the best way it could’ve been. The choice of language at times was questionable.
Nevertheless.
The idea of making the reader really question the world, what really matters and what’s really important is brought across in a superb manner. It did bring a tear to my eye. And it did make me have to flick back through the pages to just make sure that actually happened. It made me giggle.
It’s an okay book. Not the best I’ve read, not the worst.
However I always do congratulate a writer bringing a tear to my eye so bravo Mr Tommy Wallach! And I must also say, the idea in itself for a young adult book about living life and realising what is important makes us look at ourselves and what we would feel and do and who we would spend our time when everything came to an end.
It reminds us how to live.

 

But hey! If you’re anything like me; go ahead and read it, challenge my review by all means.

Happy reading!

The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan

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SO. I finished reading The Opposite of Loneliness a few weeks ago and my, my what a read! What an absolute inspiration Marina Keegan was and the even more inspiring she would have become! I’m sure we would have been familiar with her name tacked to the bottom of novels or newspaper articles; now her story is tacked to my heart. (cheesy but true)

But seriously, though. The girl got talent. (!!!!!!!!!!)
I think that’s what I love about reading and occasionally writing, is that your story; your words, they never leave. They still have an impact even if you are done writing it.

Anyway, back to this mini masterpiece.

I can honestly say that her stories have stuck with me. Even now, I find myself thinking about the (MILD SPOILERS) woman who adopted the little girl. I found that story so infinitely sad, I just can’t seem to shake it.
And her honesty! Wow, she wrote without fear!
Her story is a sad one, the introduction in itself had me tearing up. And the phrase that just keeps being repeated in my mind over and over again when I think of her is that “It’s just not fair.”

It’s not fair.

Marina Keegan, you have touched me! I can’t thank you enough for your words and being able to relate to you and they way you see the world.
So many quotes I loved from this collection but amongst them, my favourite (which of course ended up as a caption on my Instagram) was

“Do you wanna leave soon?
No, I want enough time to be in love with everything.
And I cry because everything is so beautiful and so short.”
From the poem “Bygones”.

Not to mention this little gem (that ended up on my Pinterest, naturally) that opened this memoir.

“We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life.”

I find it hard to rate this book because it was so diverse!

I give a 8andhalf/10 (I WISH THERE WAS MORE).

http://theoppositeofloneliness.com

If I Stay & Where She Went by Gayle Forman

This is the excerpt for your very first post.

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6/10
I loved the first book of this series, it had me in tears but just how simple tragic this tale was. Again, I was whispering into the pages “No… it’s not fair.” If I Stay was destined for a sequel and I’m glad it was made into one, because if it wasn’t I think I would have spent the rest of my days wondering “…but what happened?” I watched the movie of If I Stay, and if I’m honest, I loved the story too much to be judgmental about any changes or inaccuracies in the movie. I watched with a bunch of girlfriends and we were all crying our eyes out and even the hardest and coolest and “I don’t take no crap” friend of us all admitted she was crying. IT BROKE HER.
The second book, Where She Went got mixed reviews by other people. “The first one is better.” They would say and frankly I agree, but not so sourly as they do. The second one gives the readers and the characters closure, which is much needed because the cliffhanger- dang.

It was a continuation of a story- what exactly was expected, another catastrophe?
Anyway, I loved these books and read both of them each in a day. They’re short, they’re emotional. They are the perfect books for a night curled up in bed and time to kill.

(AND TEARS TO SHED).