Review: The Shadows Between Us

I am so happy I read this book when I did. I was reading some not so great books recently and now my luck has turned around, this one included! I’ve heard such great things about this story and it did not disappoint for me.

Today, I will be reviewing The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power:

1) Woo the Shadow King.
2) Marry him.
3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.

No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King’s power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she’s going to do everything within her power to get it.

But Alessandra’s not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?

Wow okay where to start with this one? I guess let’s start with characters.

A+

I loved Alessandra as a character. She’s tough, but not cruel. She owns her body and her sexuality, but doesn’t shame other girls for having different opinions (ie. while she may be sexually active, she does not shame other girls for waiting until marriage). She’s pretty funny and she gets stuff done! She’s pretty impressive. Then Kallias. Ugh – King Kallias is too much for me sometimes. Not because he’s ignoring Alessandra or being rude – which he definitely is – but because he’s so tortured and he just needs a hug. But, you can’t touch him, so air hug? Then we have Alessandra’s friends who are all so funny. It’s a perfect set up.

So plot wise, I couldn’t find any faults that I thought needed to be changed or were bad. In fact, I really like how the plot went and the ending is spectacular. I gasped, I was happy, I was sad, shocked, disturbed, and in the end, satisfied. This story had so many ups and downs between Alessandra and Kallias and even between other characters! So much is going on.

I was cheering on Alessandra the whole time, even when her goals changed because she’s a fun character. I liked seeing how cunning and smart she was and the fact that Kallias appreciated that! They’re one of my favorite couples now.

SPOILER ALERT!!! I will be discussing spoilers below. I will mark once the spoiler talk has ended!

SPOILERS START

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Okay so first off I have a question, because I realize this may not have been answered in the book. During Kallias’ assassination attempt at the ball, the little girl tells Alessandra that it was the man who made a toast and the woman in black who told her to come. And that the woman in black was now wearing green tonight. Lady Zervas matched the description but she claims it wasn’t her – do we know who this woman was? Is it confirmed or denied that it was Lady Zervas? And if it wasn’t – who was it?

I don’t know if we ever got that answer and I’m kinda of sad. I wanna know who it was. I was hoping that it was one of Alessandra’s friends, like Hestia or Rhoda who were actually in on the whole thing. But that didn’t end up happening.

I think that’s my only complaint plot wise – we never confirm or deny who this woman is and why she’s important.

One other thing I do want to mention too was I wasn’t a fan of how Kallias reacted to Alessandra’s murder charge. He doesn’t worry that she will try to murder him? He pardons her immediately? I just don’t understand his reasoning besides wanting to keep the engagement and letting it slide?

I was kind of hoping for some dramatic thing where he gets upset and locks her up or throws her out. Or even her Father and her sister get her and take her home. But that didn’t happen and I wish it did. I feel like that would have been pretty intense too.

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SPOILERS END

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I love the characters, the story, and certain scenes just made me fall in love with Kallias. I also really wanted to give him a hug, poor thing. All in all, this is a great fantasy standalone that I’ll probably be recommending for a while, so I think it’s obvious this is a starstarstarstarstar // 5 stars for me!

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If this book sounds interesting, check out Tricia’s other series, Daughter of the Pirate King!

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

ARC Review: The Beholder

I am lucky to be a part of the blog tour for The Boundless by Anna Bright, so I thought a great way to prep for that would be to post my review of the first book, The Beholder!

I read the ARC of The Beholder, so I am going to count it as an ARC review, even though the book has been released. This is my first blog tour EVER, so I hope you all join me on June 7th to read my thoughts on The Boundless!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Selah has waited her whole life for a happily ever after. As the only daughter of the leader of Potomac, she knows her duty is to find the perfect match, a partner who will help secure the future of her people. Now that day has finally come.

But after an excruciatingly public rejection from her closest childhood friend, Selah’s stepmother suggests an unthinkable solution: Selah must set sail across the Atlantic, where a series of potential suitors awaits—and if she doesn’t come home engaged, she shouldn’t come home at all.

From English castle gardens to the fjords of Norge, and under the eye of the dreaded Imperiya Yotne, Selah’s quest will be the journey of a lifetime. But her stepmother’s schemes aren’t the only secrets hiding belowdecks…and the stakes of her voyage may be higher than any happy ending.

Okay, so I had heard a bit about this book and how it was like The Bachelor on the sea (technically The Bachelorette) and it wasn’t wrong, but this book is so much more. Selah’s proposal is rejected at home and her stepmother sends her on a journey across the sea to find a husband claiming no one will marry her after her public rejection. Selah is shipped across the sea and has to make a stop in the Imperiya, which is like awful. She’s terrified of the fabled, but possibly real, Baba Yaga.

Now, I love romance in books, so long as it’s not the main plot point, but I actually really enjoyed this book! The romance was a big portion of the story, but it also shows Selah cultivating friendships and learning about different cultures as she’s shipped across Europe (or what we would deem as Europe).

It’s clear that Anna created her world off of our current world, keeping some names the same, and changing some to fit her world. My favorite part was her inclusion of Finland! While it was funny to base some of the characters off of the vikings, which were more Norway/Sweden than Finland, it was still heartwarming to see my second home mentioned. For those that are not aware, I am Finnish and I actually have dual citizenship for the USA and Finland! Though I don’t speak the language well, so don’t ask!

I like Selah’s personality, more specifically her sense of honor and her trusting nature. She’s a very genuine person with her friends and her love interests – it makes the book much more enjoyable.

There wasn’t much I didn’t like, although I was a little disappointed in one of her reactions. I was rooting for them, but I understood it was to keep the plot going (STILL UPSET THOUGH!) I have heard some pretty divided debates about this book, but it’s a strong starstarstarstar.5 // 5 stars for me!

I’m really excited to read The Boundless and if you are interested in reading my review, it will be posted on June 7th, 2020! Of course, it will be spoiler free. This is my first blog tour ever, so I’m very excited to get to participate!

Have you read The Beholder yet? What are your thoughts and what do you think will happen in The Boundless?

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If you like this book, check out The Selection by Kiera Cass!

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

Book Haul: April

April was a big month for new releases and spending money on new books! I had a lot of trades and purchases that occurred this month (much more than last month) as well as several preorders! Some of these I have more than one copy that I got, so I will include how many I actually received.

Some of the ARCs I received this month are:

  • And I Darken by Kiersten White
  • Bright We Burn by Kiersten White
  • The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad
  • Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
  • The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
  • Wicked Fox by Kat Cho
  • You Owe Me  A Murder by Eileen Cook
  • Everland by Wendy Spinale
  • The Spy With the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke
  • We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal (Goodreads Giveaway)
  • Diamond City by Francesca Flores (Goodreads Giveaway)
  • Fall, Or Dodge in Hell by Neal Stephenson
  • The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen
  • A Treason of Thorns by Laura E. Weymouth

Some of the Finished Copies I bought this month are:

  • We Rule the Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett
  • The Devouring Grey by Christine Lynn Herman
  • How to Make Friends With the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow
  • Once and Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy
  • Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan x2
  • Enchantee by Gita Trelease
  • Nocturna by Maya Motayne
  • Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu x3
  • The Archived by Victoria Schwab
  • The Unbound by Victoria Schwab
  • The Wish Granter by C.J. Redwine
  • The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner

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After looking over how many books I’ve received this month, I have a feeling I’m going to have to sit down and stop spending money. Yikes!

If you have purchased, read, or are interested in any of these books, let me know! I’d also love to know what books you purchased for April – let’s share the love!

ARC Review: Wilder Girls

I managed to snag an ARC of Wilder Girls by Rory Power at NoVa Teen Book Festival this past March and I was so excited to read it! One of the biggest things that attracted me to this book was the gorgeous cover (can we just drool over this together?)! I hadn’t heard much about the plot but I was ready to jump in and read what was going to happen.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.

One of the things I really liked about this was the storyline – an apocalyptic sickness taking over the school and the entire island it resides on. Turning the girls into deformed monsters and killing everything in its path. I’ve read and seen apocalyptic illness stories before, but never like this. Usually they take on a zombie standard, but most of the girls remain the same and keep their sanity – for the most part. It was interesting to see how they changed overtime because of this illness and to read about their new normal.

The new social survival standard was interesting too. Loyalty was still present even in the dog eats dog world as the girls fought each other over everything. Even between friends, Hetty still has to fight to survive as she continues to look out for the people she cares for.

One thing I wasn’t a fan of was Hetty and Reese’s relationship. They weren’t friends but they were more than strangers and it was hard to accept that they were loyal or cared for each other. Hetty was much closer with Byatt and clearly cared for her deeply – so to make it seem like Hetty and Reese had an intense relationship felt false. While it’s clear their relationship changes, there are some aspects to it that don’t feel right or could have been developed more.

Another thing that was somewhat explained but I didn’t fully understand was the sickness itself. There’s some explanation of symptoms and what happening to them, but it doesn’t explain why some people survive while others don’t. Or what is actually happening to them. It kinda hinders the story for me as we continue to see the effects of this illness on everything. I think this will impact book 2 in two ways: 1) We’ll get more explanation of what’s happening or 2) We won’t and we’ll still be confused. Or at least I will be.

I think the story is an interesting take on something that has been done before. Strange illness kills the population and changes the landscape. Survivors have to figure out how to live in new world and continue to survive. It’s a plot that has been done before but Power does something different with it, which I liked. Unfortunately, I just wasn’t super impressed with the storyline and honestly, Reese and Hetty’s characters annoyed me. I would have loved to have read the entire story through Byatt’s perspective though!

Overall, I enjoyed the story, but it wasn’t a winner for me. The synopsis is a little misleading because it makes it seem like a grand adventure but most of the story takes place at the school. While there is a lot of action, it’s not as action packed as I hoped. I am definitely interested in reading what happens next though! Definitely a star.pngstar.pngstar.png.75/5 stars for me.

The Best Travel Books

Vacations are a great time to sit down and actually finish those books that have been sitting on the shelf for months. One of the hardest things though, is finding books that are good vacation books. Not too cry worthy or emotionally scaring – something fun, relaxing, and maybe even thought provoking. Here are some of my favorite vacation reads so far! Let me know in the comments below some of your all time favorite vacation reads!

The Selection by Kiera Cass

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This YA Science Fiction/Romance novel is one that fulfills your swoon worthy, lovey vibes and also reminds you of life. The first book takes you on America’s journey through the process of being primped and picked for being a future Queen – even though she’s definitely not interested. This easy YA read is perfect for anyone 12+ and is something that most would glide through easily without utter destruction.

Everless by Sara Holland

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This heart racing, blood pounding YA Fantasy read is something I read on the beach last year and absolutely adored. The fast paced story kept me going, which made it very easy for me to read the entire book in one day. With all the time available on vacation – for the most part – this book is a great, gripping read with a few moments of shock or concern for the characters. Thankfully, this book isn’t heart ripping and makes for a great, quick, all day read while sitting in the sun or in your hotel room.

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

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This book is an amazingly funny, fantastical take on the classic story of Lady Jane Grey, the queen of England for 9 days! This historically “accurate” story of her rise and fall to power with the added humor of the time, makes this a great YA historical fiction/fantasy vacation read! I devoured this in one day and its lightheartedness made it easy to digest, leaving me happy and entertained!

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller 

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Looking for an action packed YA Fantasy about pirates and sirens that won’t leave you a puddle on the floor? This book isn’t entirely lighthearted, but Tricia’s story telling leaves you on the edge of your seat entertained, without being scarred. It’s an easy book to sit back, relax, and enjoy the events going on while on the beach – you might even see a siren in the distance!

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

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This YA Contemporary Romance is a light, delicate, and emotionally rewarding read that you can enjoy and then watch the movie on Netflix once you’re done! Lara Jean’s unfortunate love reveal to the five boys she loved before leaves a warm, fuzzy feeling in your heart. Especially during scenes between her and her family. This is perfect for a relaxing vacation where you can sit back, enjoy the loving family vibes, laugh, and finish a wonderful read! It’s hard to not love this book and all of Lara’s quirky friends and family.

While there are so many different genres and tastes when it comes to vacation reads, these relatively easy reads allowed me to relax and enjoy the ride. That brief moment of escape during my escape was sweet and occasionally enlightening. I enjoyed every story in their own ways and it allowed me to escape from my vacation for just a moment. I’m always on the hunt for some great vacation reads, so drop some suggestions below!

 

Smoke and Key

I received an eARC of Smoke and Key by Kelsey Sutton from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. While I was a little late, I reviewed it in time for opening week, yay!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

She has no idea who or where she is. Or why she’s dead. The only clue to her identity hangs around her neck: a single rusted key. This is how she and the others receive their names—from whatever belongings they had when they fell out of their graves. Under is a place of dirt and secrets, and Key is determined to discover the truth of her past in order to escape it.

She needs help, but who can she trust? Ribbon seems content in Under, uninterested in finding answers. Doll’s silence hints at deep sorrow, which could be why she doesn’t utter a word. There’s Smoke, the boy with a fierceness that rivals even the living. And Journal, who stays apart from everyone else. Key’s instincts tell her there is something remarkable about each of them, even if she can’t remember why.

Then the murders start. Bodies that are burned to a crisp. And after being burned, the dead stay dead. Key is running out of time to discover who she was—and what secret someone is willing to kill to keep hidden—before she loses her life for good…

The first moment I picked up the book, I knew I would love it, but it was not the right time for me to read this. This short, creepy, fantastical mystery sucked me right in, but after finding out that a close friend died, it hit a little too close to home. To read about how Key died, and everyone around her, made me a little uncomfortable after dealing with a death myself, but it got easier as I read on.

This story is not just a mystery, but a good conversation on death and what happens after we die. Uncomfortable, I know, but an important conversation nonetheless. One thing I loved about this book was the simplicity of Under. When I read books regarding the afterlife, it tends to be a smokey city or unclear that the person is dead. In this story, Sutton makes it clear that they are in the ground and their city is meant for the dead.

Another thing I loved was how the mystery was slowly uncovered and solved. Death mysteries are fun with detectives, but to realize what is going on through flashbacks or memories is a “fun” approach. It was a nice break away from the typical detective mysterious I’m used to.

While it wasn’t the best time for me to read this story, I loved it. I read it that day and I enjoyed every minute of it. I would give this book a star.png star.pngstar.png /5 stars. It would probably be higher if not for the circumstances, honestly.

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If this book sounds interesting to you, check out The Devouring Grey by Christine Lynn Herman!

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

This Book Is Not Yet Rated

I received an advance copy of This Book Is Not Yet Rated by Peter Bognanni from a giveaway on Goodreads. The book is available on April 9, 2019 so only two more months!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

A smart and funny contemporary YA novel about 17-year-old Ethan who works at the crumbling Green Street Cinema and has to learn, along with his eccentric, dysfunctional work family, that fighting for the thing you love doesn’t always turn out like in the movies.

The Green Street Cinema has always been a sanctuary for Ethan. Maybe it’s because movies help him make sense of real life, or maybe it’s because the cinema is the one place he can go to still feel close to his dad, a film professor who died three years ago. Either way, it’s a place worth fighting for, especially when developers threaten to tear it down to build a luxury condos.

They say it’s structurally unsound and riddled with health code violations. They clearly don’t understand that the crumbling columns and even Brando, the giant rat with a taste for sour patch kids, are a part of the fabric of this place that holds together the misfits and the dreamers of the changing neighborhood the cinema house has served for so many years.

Now it’s up to the employees of the Green Street Cinema–Sweet Lou the organist with a penchant for not-so-sweet language; Anjo the projectionist, nicknamed the Oracle for her opaque-but-always-true proclamations; Griffin and Lucas who work the concessions, if they work at all; and Ethan, known as “Wendy,” the leader of these Lost Boys–to save the place they love.

It’s going to take a movie miracle if the Green Street is going to have a happy ending. And when Raina, Ethan’s oldest friend (and possible soul mate?), comes back home from Hollywood where she’s been starring in B-movies about time-traveling cats, Ethan thinks that miracle just may have been delivered. But life and love aren’t always like the movies. And when the employees of the Green Street ask what happens in the end to the Lost Boys, Ethan has to share three words he’s not been ready to say: “they grow up.”

This Book Is Not Yet Rated is the story of growing up and letting go and learning that love can come in many different forms and from many different sources like the places that shape us, the people who raise us, the lovers who leave us, and even the heroic rodents who were once our mortal enemies. 

Going into this story, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Let me say that I was blown away by how deep this story was. The author discusses serious topics such as death, identity, self worth, and finding our place in this world – something I didn’t expect to be hit with. It was a pleasant surprise, but a surprise nonetheless.

The beginning was a bit boring for me and I had a bit of trouble getting into it, but once I was invested, it was an engaging story. I did have an issue connecting with the main character though, although I’m not sure what about him made him distant for me. His personality seemed odd, but it makes sense as the story progresses why it might come across that way, so I’ll excuse it.

The biggest issue I had with the story in general was the relationship between Ethan and Raina. It was a weird love story between them that I’m not sure was resolved, which was irritating because I felt so much of the book was Ethan avoiding his feelings for Raina and once he accepted them, the tension dissipated and I’m left with nothing. I wanted more out of this love story between them and I felt a bit disappointed in it. Besides that, the interaction between Ethan and Raina were a mix of sad and emotional to fun and light hearted – it was a good, realistic mix.

Besides that, the story is engaging, funny, and deep. The other characters, like Anjo, Sweet Lou, Griffin, and Lucas helped lighten up the story and make it more entertaining and less emotionally scarring, especially in regards to the fact that this theater is going to be torn down. I also think Ethan’s friendship between these characters helped make him seem less lonely and whiny, like he does with Raina at times, and makes him appear more like a normal teenager.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and it was a good, fast read. I’m excited to read the finished result in April! For my rating, I would rate this book a star.png star.png star.png/5 stars. It was a good contemporary read and I would definitely recommend it!

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If you like this book, I would recommend To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han is a contemporary young adult novel about Lara Jean, the girl who’s secret love letters are now, not so secret.

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Personally, I’m not a fan of contemporary novels, especially romance novels, but this one seems to have found a special place in my heart. Going into this story, all I knew was that Lara Jean’s love letters were sent to her past crushes without her knowledge, and now all five boys know she likes them, including her sister’s boyfriend.

Here is the official synopsis from Goodreads:

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once?

Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

To be completely honest, this book was so cute. I only read the book because I am buddy reading it before the show debuts on Netflix and I assumed I wouldn’t be that into it. I was wrong! It’s hard not to grow to love Lara Jean’s quirkiness or Kitty’s (Lara Jean’s younger sister) spunk. I really wanted to not enjoy this book, but I couldn’t. It was good and cute and I’m dying to read the next two books!

My favorite thing about the story line is that it’s not relationship based. On the contrary, Lara Jean’s motivation to avoid relationships made me interested in this story line and want to figure out 1) why and 2) is this actually going to remain like that? I also enjoyed the fact that our main character is not a popular girl or an absolute freak. She’s – normal. She has friends but isn’t a known somebody in the school. She has a close relationship with her family, but not too close. That’s one thing I can definitely appreciate! The trope of the popular girl or outcast is too over done and this story brings a refreshingly interesting main character.

Another thing I enjoy about this story is that it shows a family that realistically loves each other. It’s not all perfect sunshine and rainbows. There are fights and arguments and other things going on that occur but don’t utterly destroy the relationships. This realistic family makes me actually smile, instead of rolling my eyes. As I read about Margot (Lara Jean’s older sister), I’m reminded of myself. As an older sister I have to take care of my younger sisters and make sure they’re on the track to success – not because I have to, but because I love them and I want to. It was so refreshing to see an older sibling that cared, but wasn’t overly involved.

Another factor that made this book so enjoyable was the humor. I loved the inside jokes, or jabs at friends/family, or snarky comments that occurred between different characters. It not only kept the conversation interesting, but made it realistic. I’m a sucker for realistic characters and conversation!

I also really enjoyed how short the chapters were. It made the book fly by for me; I read it a lot faster than I would have assumed for a 350 page book.

Overall, I would give this bookImage result for starImage result for starImage result for starImage result for star stars! I thought it was a cute, romantic read that wasn’t your ordinary contemporary romance! I’m very excited to continue the series and read the next two books!

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If you like this book, or this review sounds interesting, be sure to check out The Selection by Keira Cass!