Review for The Warrior (Dante Walker #3) by Victoria Scott

The Warrior by Victoria Scott

TITLE: The Warrior
SERIES: Dante Walker #3
AUTHOR: Victoria Scott
PUBLICATION DATE: May 6, 2014
PUBLISHER: Entangled Teen
PAGES: 352 pages
FORMAT: E-ARC / Paperback
SOURCE: NetGalley / Purchased
RATING: 1 bow

Before we get started on the actual review, I have something to say. First, this is the first book in a while that has actually inspired me to sit down and write and it’s obviously for all the wrong reasons. However, I have already tried writing a positive review to renew my review-writing passions and it didn’t work, so maybe it’s time to try the opposite. That being said, THIS REVIEW WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS. Also, given the one-star rating, it should be apparent that I did not enjoy this book, but in case there is any doubt, I didn’t, so this isn’t going to be me being positive about how you could like it. This is going to be me being real about how I felt. Victoria, if you ever stumble upon this, don’t read it. Seriously, just skip it. I love you and I loved Fire & Flood, but Dante Walker just rubbed me the wrong way.

Summary from GoodReads:

War between heaven and hell is coming, but Dante Walker makes it look damn good.

Dante’s girlfriend, Charlie, is fated to save the world. And Aspen, the girl who feels like a sister, is an ordained soldier. In order to help both fulfill their destiny and win the war, Dante must complete liberator training at the Hive, rescue Aspen from hell, and uncover a message hidden on an ancient scroll.

Dante is built for battle, but even he can’t handle the nightmares where spiders crawl from Aspen’s eyes, or the look on Charlie’s face that foretells of devastation. To make matters worse, the enemy seizes every opportunity to break inside the Hive and cripple the liberators. But the day of reckoning is fast approaching, and to stand victorious, Dante will have to embrace something inside himself he never has before—faith.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we? Back at the beginning of 2013, there was a book that was EVERYWHERE on the blogosphere. It was getting so much love and people were ecstatic over the Daemon Black-esque character that had emerged in YA. The Collector by Victoria Scott was all anyone could talk about. Dante Walker was the new badass that absolutely everyone as in love with. So when I saw it up on NetGalley, I knew I had to read it. I got approved and started reading it immediately. I am always in need of more Daemon Black style awesome, ALWAYS. But I quickly realized that Dante Walker was nothing like my dear Daemon. Dante Walker got on my nerves. Dante Walker was a jackass. I couldn’t really understand the appeal, but I kept reading. I have a difficult time DNF-ing books, so I pushed through. I ended up enjoying it enough to give it 4 stars. I never did understand the magical Dante Walker appeal, but to each his own. I should have stopped there and left well enough alone, but I like to think that authors expound on what I like and get rid of what I don’t further down in the series. So I read book 2….and I don’t love it. What irked me about Dante in the first book just gets worse in it. He’s cocky and mean and immature. He is supposed to be a demon from hell and yet the boy uses no swear words. He uses the fill-in, politically correct versions. Nothing can kill my love quicker. He has no redeeming qualities to me. Then I see book 3 is up for review and think “well, maybe this will be a big finale and things will be better” and I get it. Judging by the fact that it took me over a year to get around to start reading it and over a month to complete it, you can guess how that went. So, here are my thoughts!

As I said, Dante Walker is not the character for me. Everything the guy did just had me rolling my eyes at his antics. I didn’t find him endearing or amusing and I had enough of his shit pretty early on in book 1, so you can imagine how annoyed I was with him by the end of book 3. The boy just doesn’t know when to quit. He just keeps on and on like a moron.

The rest of the cast isn’t much better. Charlie is too much of a goodie-goodie for me to really love and the remaining liberators and collectors are all respective jackasses. And most of the die, so don’t get attached. Max, one of the few characters I enjoyed dies. Of course, Dante, Charlie, and Aspen come through fine…ish. Annabelle doesn’t die, but I found her survival unbelievable. During the epic end battle, she is apparently pregnant (WHEN THE FUCK DID THAT HAPPEN?!?!?) and she gets stabbed in the stomach, but somehow both her and baby survive.
Suits WHAT gif
I’m sorry, but you get gutted and YOU are lucky to survive. There is no way in hell that the fetus in your womb comes out unharmed as well. I’m sorry, I know this is a fantasy type thing, but I call BULLSHIT.

I think, beyond Dante being annoying, that was my biggest problem here. It all felt like bullshit. You are going to war with the collectors on the fate of Earth. Either the Collectors win and demons are set free to torment human kind or you win and it starts the Trelevator, a hundred years of peace. So the collectors have a massive army of sirens and quite a few collectors on their side. You have less than 50 people and over half of them are humans who have only had a few days worth of fighting training?
Veronica Mars headtilt gif
You expect to win like that? I knew from the moment the war really started that I’d have a hard time buying into them winning. And the way they win was very dues ex machina. Dante just asks for help and God gives it. Simple as that. I’m not the religious type to begin with so I have many a problem with that scenario, but on a strictly fictional level, couldn’t you think of anything better? You back Dante into a corner and then BOOM, God empowers him and he wins the thing? LAME.

Dante also just seemed too involved in EVERYTHING. I get it, okay? He is the golden boy. Even though Charlie is supposed to be the savoir, it’s played out a lot like he is a bit as well, because nothing happens without a little of Dante’s input. There is unlocking the scroll and creating a battle plan and recruiting Lincoln and training and actually interpreting the scroll and a million other tiny things. Are there not a bunch of other people involved? Can we not let them take on some of the workload? If Dante is a star player, we don’t want him exhausted before the big battle do we?

Another little thing? If you are going to shorten someones name into a nickname, can we please be consistent and use the same spelling? Don’t shorten Kraven into Crave please. At least make it Krave. There is no reason to change that consonant because they make the same sound.

Basically, this got on my nerves…a lot. In order to complete it, I had to read it in small bursts of a chapter or two at a time because that is all of Dante’s nonsense I could take in one sitting. I did want to see how it all wrap up, but it was so unbelievable for me that I find myself to be wholly unsatisfied. My advice to you? Go with your gut feeling on this. If you really enjoyed both The Collector and The Liberator, then you’ll enjoy this as well. If either of those annoyed you at all? Steer clear, because this will too.

****Thank you to Entangled Teen for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review****

1 bow
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Review for Model Misfit (Geek Girl #2) by Holly Smale

Model Misfit by Holly Smale

TITLE: Model Misfit
SERIES: Geek Girl #2
AUTHOR: Holly Smale
PUBLICATION DATE: July 21, 2015
PUBLISHER: Harper Teen
PAGES: 400 pages
FORMAT: E-ARC / Paperback
SOURCE: Publisher via Edelweiss / Won from Zili In The Sky
RATING: 5 bows

After Harriet Manners summer plans are ruined, she decides that modelling in Japan is the best alternative to sitting at home waiting on her life to change when the new baby arrives. Once she arrives in Tokyo, she is overwhelmed by the sights and sounds and her new flatmates. Plus, she sees Nick EVERYWHERE and since Lion Boy dumped her, that is not ideal. As she navigates her way through a summer away from home, she worries how life will be once she returns and the new baby arrives. She also wonders how she’ll make it through another day listening to her flatmate go on and on about how perfect Nick is. One thing is certain, after this summer, her life will never be the same!

Before I started this, I didn’t think it was possible to love this series more. I adored Geek Girl. It was one of the best books I read last year. I know, it technically came out in the US this year, but I read it last year. You can read my review for it here. Anyway, I loved it to pieces and generally books don’t step up the content much with a sequel, but that is not the case here. I loved this even more than I did Geek Girl. It’s pages contain everything you loved about GG and more. You get the wit and the snark and the awkwardness and the brave girl trying to step out of herself, and you also get so much heart and love and realistic situations that you can just imagine these things happening. There will be more fangirling later in this review, but I just wanted to get that bit out of the way first.

Harriet Manners is the same girl we learned to love in Geek Girl. She’s smart and funny and 100 % an unrepentant geek. We get to see a more morose side of here because Lion Boy has dumped her. She doesn’t understand why. She thought they were getting along well and she was always happiest in his company, but his mind seemed to be made up and there was no changing it. She soldiers on. Even when her epic plans of a fun summer with Natalie and Toby crash and burn. Nat & Toby both have other plans. With nothing better to do, she heads to Tokyo to do some modeling. She has always been fascinated with Japan anyway, so why not? In this installment, Harriet really puts her all into trying to be the best model she can be. While that may not work out as fabulously as she planned, it’s nice to see her really put effort into doing as she is directed.

We get to see some of the old cast as well as a few new members. We don’t get as much of Toby as we did in Geek Girl. The book was perfect, but I did miss his stalking a bit. He is such as amusing character. Nick is present, though we are not very happy with him. Harriet gets two new roommates, who I won’t say anything at all about because doing so might spoil something. And then we have Harriet’s dad and Step-Mom. Once again, I am in awe of that woman. If I am half the mom she is to Harriet when I have kids, then I will be satisfied with myself. The way she handles everything on top of her pregnancy hormones is phenomenal. And that scene, the one at the very end, with the list. Let me just say ALL THE FEELS! Also, I love their baby name…just sayin! 😉

Have you ever read a novel that was just so perfect that you actually cried after it was over? I don’t mean sobbing because the story was depressing a la The Fault In Our Stars, but just at the sheer perfection of this thing you have just read? That this book for me. I literally cried after it was over because I loved it so much. I don’t think that was the intended response, but that was what it got. This book is bloody perfect. I wouldn’t change a single thing about it. It made me laugh, it made me cry, and it has an ending so well written that I am just in awe of it. I’m a little surprised I worked up all the words you see in this review because my brain is more or less just screaming “IT’S PERFECT! GO BUY THE DAMN BOOK!” So that is what I’ll leave you with. This book is perfect and it’s a must read to everyone with the ability to comprehend it.

****Thank you to Harper Teen for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****

5 bows
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Review for Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles #3.5) by Marissa Meyer

Fairest by Marissa Meyer

TITLE: Fairest
SERIES: The Lunar Chronicles #3.5
AUTHOR: Marissa Meyer
NARRATOR: Rebecca Soler
PUBLICATION DATE: Jaunary 27, 2015 / January 27, 2015
PUBLISHER: Feiwel & Friends / Macmillan Audio
PAGES: 272 pages / 6 hours 36 minutes
FORMAT: Hardback / Audio
SOURCE: GoodReads First Reads Program / borrowed
RATING: 3 bows

***PLEASE EXCUSE ANY SPELLING ERRORS. I LISTENED TO THIS WHOLE THING ON AUDIO, SO I’M NOT SURE HOW EVERYTHING IS SUPPOSED TO BE SPELLED.***

We all know Queen Levana as the evil dictator who is trying to take over Earth, but here is her past. In this novel, we get to back things up and see the teen years that shaped Levana into the Queen we all love to hate. We get to see her overcome her sister’s taunts and rise to power. It’s an interesting journey, to say the least!

From the moment this book was announced, I knew I’d have to read it. I adore the Lunar Chronicles and it’s still quite a few months before Winter finally arrives, so I needed something to tide me over. I was also very apprehensive. I hate Levana. I want the bitch to die and die bloody. I want to watch as they torment her and kill her slowly. I want that, really I do. I was worried that we’d get redeeming charactaristics here, worried that I’d start to sympathize with her, maybe even feel sorry for her and I did not want that to happen. For all of those with the same fear, that will not happen. Yes, Levana has a sad childhood, being tormented by Channary, her elder sister, but that doesn’t really gain her sympathy because she is already well on her way to being a psychopath from page one of this. And her actions get increasingly disturbing as the novel continues. She is obsessed with her guard, Evret, and she takes that obsession to the extreme. She isn’t initially obsessed with ruling the kingdom, but it eventually shows up and once her mind latches onto that idea, nothing will deter her. The woman tries to murder her own niece, a goddamn toddler.

The rest of the cast is really insignificant. We get brief glimpses of Selene and just a few moments with Winter, the only two besides Levana that really play a role in the rest of the series. The only two I really care about. I felt bad for Evret because he is forced into a terrible situation and he has no way out. Levana will never let him leave and have his life with Winter. That is never a possibility, so he soldiers on with his life and tries to make due with what he has.

I think I was doomed to feel mediocre about this from the start. I am very (VERY) character driven and since I just want Levana to die, I wasn’t really invested in her life or what she did. There were a few tense moments with Evret or the moment when she “kills” Selene that I did want to keep going, but for the most part, this wasn’t something that held my attention. Again, this isn’t due to a lack of awesomeness on Meyer’s part, just a lack of interest on mine.

I originally won a copy of this gorgeous hardback from GoodReads and planned to read through it, but then I saw that Rebecca Soler was doing the audio edition and I’d have to listen to it. I’ve been listening to the prior books with my husband anyway, so why not enjoy this together as well? To really show how little of my interest this held, let me just put it this way. This audiobook is tiny, less than 7 hours and it took us 2 months to finish it because we just had no interest in getting through it.

It gets three stars because it isn’t bad. It had it’s interesting moments and I did like learning a bit more of Levana’s backstory, but I just didn’t care enough overall to love it like I have with the rest of the series.

Audio Notes:
Rebecca Soler is now my husband’s favorite narrator. She has done a wonderful job with this series in particular. My lack of enthusiasm here is not due to her performance. Though she doesn’t really get to stretch her vocal muscles as much as I’d like here because it’s mostly Levana’s narration and her voice is the only one needed, I still think she does an excellent job.

***Thank you to Goodreads and Feiwel & Friends for providing me with a hardcover copy of this in exchange for an honest review.***

3 bows
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Review for Trouble From The Start by Rachel Hawthorne

Trouble From The Start by Rachel Hawthorne

TITLE: Trouble From The Start
AUTHOR: Rachel Hawthorne
PUBLICATION DATE: April 28, 2015
PUBLISHER: Harper Teen
PAGES: 400 pages
FORMAT: eARC
SOURCE: Publisher via Edelweiss
RATING: 4 bows

Avery is your typical good girl. She’s smart, she’s driven, and she’s college bound. She has no business getting involved with the school bad guy. You know, the one with a smart mouth and constant bruises from all the fights? But Fletcher is pushed into her life anyway and soon the two start feeling an unlikely attraction that gets continually harder to fight. The more time Avery spends with Fletcher, the more she realizes that there is more to this guy than the facade he shows the world. But she’s leaving for college in a few months and Fletcher is staying here, so would courting a relationship now just be flirting with disaster or do they have what it takes to go the distance?

Avery is a character I wanted to be annoyed at. She’s a goodie two-shoes and those typically aren’t my type of characters. I like snark and sass and goody-goodies typically don’t display those characteristics. But Avery is strong and smart and she has not problem standing up to Fletcher when he is in the wrong or letting her opinions be known. There is one scene where she dumps her drink on Fletcher’s head and from then on, I was in love with her. Any girl who has the balls to do that is one I like a lot. She’s also much more conflicted about what she wants to do with her life than she lets on. There is the path her parents want her to take and that’s the one she is heading down. It doesn’t matter that her heart lies elsewhere because what she wants most of all is to please her parents.

Fletcher was your typical bad guy hiding a messed up home life. The more you learn about him, the more you see why Avery’s dad takes him on as the “summer project.” I liked him a lot, but nothing particular about him that stands out for me to comment on. He’s smart, but lazy. He’s the bad boy, but he is also surprisingly nice. He’s misunderstood and rides a motorcycle. He was cool and I loved getting in his head, but again, there is nothing specific about him that sets him apart of the rest of YA bad boys.

Writing-wise this was great. It has that readable quality that has you flipping pages as quickly as possible to find out exactly how this all works out. You’d think with the premise of a YA love story you’d know the outcome, but there are always those moments of uncertainty that have me speeding my way through to make sure this is going to make me happy. The only real complaint I have is the strobe-light quality to Avery and Fletcher’s relationship. I completely understand that there are extenuating circumstances, but you either want to be together or you don’t. Fletcher was mostly to blame here and I wanted to run over they guy with his own motorcycle. Be a man and make a choice! Beyond that, nothing particular stuck out that had me irritated. It’s rated four stars because it was pretty good, but there was nothing over the top amazing about it. I completely enjoyed it, but it didn’t have that indefinable spark that gets me swooning with love.

This was my first Rachel Hawthorne novel and it definitely won’t be my last. It was heartfelt and funny and exactly the contemporary YA story that I’ve been devouring like candy. I don’t know what it is about contemporary love stories that have grabbed my attention lately, but that is all I want to read. I used to hate contemporary because they felt boring. With paranormals you had alternate plot lines to follow, with historicals you could get swept away in the language and the manners, but contemporary? PASS! But that has changed and I find myself fascinated by these coming of age stories with realistic characters going through realistic situations with slightly less realistic but completely satisfying happy endings. If that sounds like your thing, then pick this up. You won’t be disappointed.

****Thank you to Harper Teen for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****

4 bows
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Review for Letters To Nowhere (Letters To Nowhere #1) by Julie Cross

Letters To Nowhere by Julie Cross

TITLE: Letters To Nowhere
SERIES: Letters To Nowhere #1
AUTHOR: Julie Cross
NARRATOR: Erin Spencer
PUBLICATION DATE: August 1, 2013 / March 20, 2014
PUBLISHER: Long Walk Press / Long Walk Press
PAGES: 288 pages / 10 hours 30 minutes
FORMAT: Ebook / Audio
SOURCE: Gifted from Julie Cross / Purchased
RATING: 5 bows

All Karen has ever wanted was to be an elite gymnast, but that’s not the path she is on. To please her parents, she compromises and instead trains towards the goal of competing in college gymnastic. Then, after a horrible car accident, Karen is left orphaned and all their plans go to hell. She ends up living with her coach and his oh-so-attractive son. So, on top of trying to decide which path in life to take and grieving the loss of her parents, she also has the added bonus of fighting an unwanted attraction to her new housemate and just dealing with boys in general. When you are in an all girls gymnast group and do school online instead of in a traditional classroom, you don’t get many encounters with the opposite sex. Despite the fact that she knows a relationship with Jordan is out of bounds, she can’t help the desire to spend time with him. Jordan makes her feel normal and he understands what she is going through. What is more important: staying in the lines of normal or being able to finally breath again?

I have to applaud Karen’s dedication to her sport. I don’t know that I have ever been as dedication to one thing enough to spend so much time perfecting it. Okay, maybe I’m that dedicated to reading, but that’s not really the same, is it? This girls spends hours at the gym every single day conditioning and training and practicing just to make sure every single move is perfect. If you didn’t see inside her head and watch her go through emotions like a normal human, I’d think she was a machine. Beyond being driven to be the best gymnast she can be, she is also pretty damn smart and driven to do well with her school work. How anyone can manage to succeed in online school and really take the information in is something else that is beyond me. I’m not a self-teaching person. I cannot learn on my own. I need a real person to explain things to me. Even if it’s just reading straight from the text book, that’s what I need. So maybe I’m fascinated by Karen because she is so different from me. That, plus the enormous grief that I cannot even really begin to comprehend. How she manages to get up in the morning astounds me, much less practicing for meets and doing schoolwork without turning into a ball of helplessness and tears on the floor. This is all my rambling way of saying that I admire Karen a great deal. She has a strength that I envy.

Jordan….oh Jordan. What is there to say about Jordan? I love him? A bunch? The way he connects with Karen is adorable. The way he goes out of his way to help her is swoon-worthy. Want to know what else I love? He’s not perfect. He is flawed and has secrets and problems all of his own. He’s smart and sweet and just a touch cocky. Also. there is a reason why he is in such good physical shape. I hate novel’s where the boys are overly buff with no logical reason to be that way beyond the fact that they are trying to play to every girl’s fantasy. Newsflash! Washboard abs don’t just magically appear out of nowhere! Trust me, if you could wish you’re body into shape, I would look A LOT different right now. Regardless, Jordan is just the type of character I love to read about.

I have wanted to read this for well over a year now. Early last year I was awarded a eARC of Third Degree, Cross’s NA romance and I feel in love with that novel. It was absolutely perfect and I immediately wanted to read everything else Cross had written. I didn’t even make the connection that this was the same Julie Cross that wrote the Tempest series until I was adding her books to my GoodReads TBR pile. Since then, I have vowed to read all of her work and I’m happy to say that I’m over halfway there. I just need to read the rest of this series and Whatever Life Throws At You and I’ll all caught up…..until she finishes whatever she is working next comes out. I don’t mean Halfway Perfect. I’ve read that. You should read that as soon as it comes out. That novel has me trying to come up with legitimate excuses to miss work work on May 8th and make the crazy 10 hour drive it would take me to get to New York City to attend it’s launch. You can read more about that here….and if you are in NYC and able to attend, well I kinda hate you because I would love to go. My point is that I had high expectations for this. Julie was nice enough to gift me a copy and I planned on reading it the old fashion way until I saw that there was an audio copy available on audible and I immediately bought that. I’m happy to report that this exceeded those expectations.

I really found this world utterly fascinating. Not only is Karen 100% committed to her sport, but so are the other girls on the team and all the things they go through to succeed in a sport that has a very limited number of spots that can be attained. The chances of actually making it big in gymnastics is slim and even knowing that, they give it their all. The spend the vast majority of their waking hours training and when they aren’t training, they still do things in a specific way to better their gymnastic abilities. They are all on crazy diets and have regular meetings with nutritionists and it just astounding me. Cross has intimate knowledge of this world and it really shows through. I don’t think anyone outside this community would really understand the trials and tribulations of it well enough to portray it to an outside.

Normally, I worry a little when starting a novel that has a heavy focus on anything athletic. I have never been a fan of any sport and, despite my efforts to be more active now, that has not changed. I always worry that the focus will be so heavy on the sporting aspect that I lose the parts that I like or that I won’t understand the rules of the sport and simply can’t follow the plot because of that. It doesn’t make sense when I put it like that, but it’s like me watching a football game. I literally know nothing about football. I know that a touchdown is a score but that is the end of my knowledge on that subject. So when someone starts throwing around terms (ie punting or gaining fields or whatever) that are widely understand without explaining it, I’m immediately lost. I need it explained in the simplest terms possible and it’s hard for an author to do that successfully. I knew that probably would be an issue here because Cross is great at putting things in terms I can understand, but the apprehension was still there. I worried for naught though because that wasn’t an issue. The sports aspect was beautifully interwoven with the other issues Karen was facing.

Basically, this novel is the same level of perfection I have come to expect from Julie Cross. It’s smart, it’s emotional, and it has those perfectly flawed characters that we can all relate to. No one here is perfect, not even the coach who should have all the answers and that quality grounds the novel in a way that nothing else can. I have already bought the next novella in this series and I look forward to seeing Karen and Jordan’s journey continue.

Audio Notes:
This is my first Erin Spencer and I’m definitely satisfied with her. At first, I wasn’t sure if I’d like her. I didn’t immediately love the sound of her voice, but the more I listened, the more I felt like it suited Karen. She has great pacing and pronunciation. There was nothing about her narration that irritated me. Conversely, there was nothing about her narration that made me go super fangirl-y about. I’d give her 4 out of 5 stars for her performance. She’s great and I’ll definitely keep an eye out for her work in the future.

5 bows
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Review for Kissing Ted Callahan (& Other Guys) by Amy Spalding

Kissing Ted Callahan (& Other Guys) by Amy Spalding

TITLE: Kissing Ted Callahan (& Other Guys)
AUTHOR: Amy Spalding
PUBLICATION DATE: April 14, 2015
PUBLISHER: Poppy
PAGES: 320 pages
FORMAT: eARC
SOURCE: publisher via NetGalley
RATING: 4 bows

After walking in on their bandmates making out, Riley and Reid are a little freaked out. Everyone knows that relationships between band members are a bad idea. This also points out that they are both lacking in relationship experience. They make a pact and start a journey to help each other find someone to make out with and win over their crushes. Since this is an experiment, it’s best to record it all, right? So they keep a journal of romantic events, as well as tips for each other. While Reid struggles to catch the attention of a girl he likes, Riley is suddenly surrounded by cute guys. Ted Callahan is really the one she wants, but there is no harm in playing the field while your young and that is what she does. But both Riley and Reid may get more than they bargained for with this pact. Can they make it all work out or are their love lives (and the band) doomed to failure?

This novel is pitched as Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist
Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist Gif
meets Easy A
Easy A A is for awesome gif
Naturally, I wanted to read it immediately. Those are easily two of my favorite movies. You know those movies that you want so many times that you have memorized all of the dialogue and can speak along with the film? Yeah, that’s me with these films. I’d devour anything even remotely similar to them. Conversely, that is also part of why this gets 4 stars instead of 5. I has super high expectations. You can’t compare something to those films and expect me to go in with low expectations. This was one of those books that I was overjoyed to be approved for. I couldn’t wait to dive into the beautiful pages and dig into the the story. Once I started it, I enjoyed it, but I didn’t love it like I expected to.

I was initially on the fence about Riley. On one hand, she is totally dedicated to her band and music in general. On the other, she seemed a bit shallow. Maybe that’s just my take, but I found her to be a bit annoying. The fact that she was freezing out her best friend infuriated me. Yes, she fucked up, but you aren’t perfect either and things are never going to be fixed if you don’t speak. If you just ignore her every she shows up or refuse to tell her anything about what’s going on with you even when that is your first instinct, things will never improve. Her obsession with music was also a bit….unbelievable? Or maybe it was the fact that there seemed to be a gig for a band that she loved every single night. Maybe things are different in Los Angeles, but how is it possible for there to be so many gigs? Some of them are local bands, but seriously, every single night? That seems a bit farfetched. Either you are exaggerating your love for these acts or you love everything. This is probably just a personal issues since I’m particular about my music, but still. Every time a new show was mentioned, it drew me out of the book and back into real world thinking land and that isn’t where I wanted to be.

I think Ted Callahan was actually my favorite character of the novel. It might just have achieved 5 stars if it has been told from his perspective. He’s smart and cute and honest. He has an almost sweet quality to him that I loved immediately. I wanted him to be with Riley because she wanted it so badly, but I almost felt like he deserved a little better. Riley wasn’t necessarily cheating on him, but she was definitely lying to him. He’s so honest and I hated the idea of someone he obviously liked lying to him.

The rest of the cast were all interesting. Riley has a fully functional, normal family. Parents, sibling, all present and accounted for. The parents even pop in here and there to lay down the law and we see Riley actively checking in with them when she is out or won’t be home. I really liked that small detail. The parental units seemed like a nice bunch and they are pretty easy on Riley, letting her go out and be a teen more often than not.

This story was pretty good. It has a good plot, good writing, and it’s populated with a group of entertaining characters. I feel like that is the best word to describe the novel, good. It wasn’t spectacular and I wasn’t blown away by it or grabbed by it in that must keep reading sort of way. It was just good. There is one more thing that influence me, whether I intended to allow it to or not. It’s something I’m hesitant to speak about because it’s a generally agreed about rule that author behavior should never influence your opinion of the book itself. Or rather, you can allow it to influence you, but it’s frowned upon to speak about it. I think that is unfair because no one berates you if your sole reason for reading a book is because you meet the author and they were awesome. No one turns up there nose at anyone who picks up a John Green novel simply because his youtube channel is amazingly entertaining. Either way, I was affected by a certain minor scandal and I’m compelled to mention that here for the sake of honesty. A little while back, the author of this novel posted a self-made bingo card online, poking fun at the reviewers of her work. I won’t go into the whole thing, but you can read more about it here. I tried to not be offended by that. I get that authors need a way to let off steam because people are ripping their work to shreds. Even though they must be aware that negative reviews come with the territory, I’m sure it’s a hard thing to take. However, I still found myself turning that over in my mind. I think my big issue was that she made it a public thing. That was something you should have shared via email with other author friends. That is not something that should have been published on any form of social media. It made me feel she would rather I didn’t read her book at all as opposed to reading it and not loving it. That whole controversy stayed in the back of my head the entire time I was reading this. I felt like she was mocking me and everyone like me. I can’t speak for all reviewers, but for me, this is a hobby. This is not my job. This is something I squeeze into whatever spare time I can find. I don’t have the time or the patience to read over my reviews endless times looking for errors in syntax or grammar. I try to stay grammatical, but I also try to write as I speak and we all know that is never as grammatical as we’d like it to be. I also don’t have a league of copy-editors proofing my work for these and other types of errors. I tried to ignore it. I tried to not think about it and concentrate on the novel and it’s qualities. But every time the story hit a lull, I was brought back to that.

Regardless of all else, this novel was pretty entertaining. It was funny and emotional. It will never be my favorite thing and it doesn’t quite live up to the standard it’s tag line created, but it was still an enjoyable read. I think anyone who enjoys contemporary YA will like it. Just try not to get bogged down in the drama and you’ll be fine!

****Thank you to Poppy for providing me with an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review****

4 bows
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Review for Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

TITLE: Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda
AUTHOR: Becky Albertalli
PUBLICATION DATE: April 7, 2015
PUBLISHER: Balzar + Bray
PAGES: 320 pages
FORMAT: eARC
SOURCE: publisher via Edelweiss
RATING: 5 bows

Sixteen year old Simon Spier is gay, but only Blue (his internet pen pal) is aware of that. It’s not that he is ashamed or scared, he just feels like it’s his business and he prefers to leave the drama for his part in the school play. Then a fellow student stumbles across his email to Blue and starts blackmailing him over it. Simon must either help set this scumbag up with a girl he likes or have the whole school know his secret. It’s not that he really cares so much, but Blue is reluctant to chat anyway and a scandal like this might scare him away completely. Simon couldn’t handle losing Blue, who has become his best friend and just might be his soul mate. Can Simon find away to keep Blue’s privacy safe and not compromising his integrity without have his business blasted through the whole school? Or will the blackmailer do what he promised and force Simon to be his eternal wingman?

What to say about Simon? He’s perfect? He’s smart and sweet and loyal….and just perfect. He is the perfect teenage boy. It’s impossible to not empathize with him while he’s on this journey. The whole Martin situation would infuriate anyone and Simon handles it about as well as can be expected. He’s email conversations with Blue had me swooning pretty early on. Trust me, that only continues as the novel progresses. Things don’t really go according to plan for Simon, but it’s how we handle things when we aren’t at our best that show our true character and Simon is someone I’d be proud to call a friend.

One of the many things I loved about this was Simon’s family. Simon has a present and supportive family. A mother, a father, and two sisters who all love him to bits. They don’t know about his homosexuality yet (no one but Blue does), but it’s pretty obvious that they would support him in whatever he endeavors to do. Even better? They aren’t perfect! They make mistakes and assumptions and generally annoy Simon, as all good parents should. Even so, Simon loves them and there is an overall positive family aspect that is just absent from most YA right now. I know that many people are stuck in less than ideal home lives, but that doesn’t mean that normal ones don’t exist and shouldn’t be showcased.

Simon also has a great group of friends. They are funny and sweet, and have that weird this person likes that person, but that person likes this other person and that creates a somewhat awkward dynamic at times. I generally liked all of them, but there isn’t one that stands out so much that I need to comment on them.

Obviously Martin was not a favorite character of mine. I do applaud Albertalli for giving him a full character arc. It would have been so simple to have Martin just be an asshole and leave it at that. Albertalli does us one better, she makes him fully human. He’s far from perfect (duh) and he fucks up a lot and does things that he regrets, things that infuriate Simon (and me), but you still manage to not completely hate the guy. Or maybe you do, but you can kinda see his side a little. There is no question that what he does is wrong and he isn’t easy to sympathize with, but he was so far from the parameters of a normal villain that I had to comment on it.

The writing here is mesmerizing. I will definitely be following Becky Albertalli’s career from here on out because this novel was written beautifully. It was very believable and the further in you get, the deeper you fall into Simon’s world. The more you need to know who Blue is, how the Martin situation will resolve, and finally see that kiss that Simon has been dreaming of for months now. Without saying anything, let me just say that the real life meet between Simon & Blue is just as adorable as you hoped it would be. That note that Blue writes Simon? I melted into a swoony puddle in the floor.

This novel is amazing and cute and everything I could want. It’s smart and funny and heartfelt. Simon goes through ups and downs and you go right along with him. You celebrate his successes and lament his failures and hope everything will turn out okay for this guy. It you like contemporary YA and diverse characters, then this is for you.

****Thank you to Balzar + Bray for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review****

5 bows
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Review for Lies I Told by Michelle Zink

Lies I Told by Michelle Zink

TITLE: Lies I Told
AUTHOR: Michelle Zink
PUBLICATION DATE: April 7, 2015
PUBLISHER: Harper Teen
PAGES: 352 pages
FORMAT: eARC
SOURCE: publisher via Edelweiss
RATING: 1 bow

From the outside, Grace Fountaine has the perfect life. She’s smart, pretty, and comes from a well off family. But looks can be deceiving. Grace’s family is actually a professional grade group of con artists and they have set the sights on their biggest score yet. Grace’s mission? Charm the mark’s son to get inside information and find out where the payload is located. The problem? The time she spends with Logan (the mark’s son), the more she starts to have feelings for him. Before the end, she has broken a cardinal rule and she knows that this isn’t going to end well. Can Grace figure out a way to make it through the con without fucking up even more or is she doomed to get them all caught for her mistakes?

When I read the synopsis for this, I was pretty excited. I love a good con story. I’m addicted to several con shows. I was basically expecting something along the lines of this.
Matt Bomer White Collar Gif
But that was not what I received and I am utterly disappointed with it. This novel is compared to Ally Carter’s work and though I’ve never read a full novel by her, I have read a novella and even it was more thought out in it’s itty bitty 100 pages than this was.

Grace was a character I wanted to sympathize with but didn’t. She was adopted by a family of cons and we all know a 14 year old who has been bounced around the foster system isn’t going to give up a seemingly loving family just because they want her to steal things. She learns to do what they do and then they adopt Parker as well, creating the perfect family of four. This is fine with me. A family of cons? That sounds like a bunch of fun and danger. But this group that is made out to be on the professional level seem like a bunch of amateurs! Grace shows no restraint and immediately becomes genuine friends with people and school and truly starts to like Logan. I get the whole you can’t help who you love thing, but she should have at least come clean to her family about it. These attachments put the whole plan at risk. As does keeping a mementos box. Destroying every part of your old aliases is part of what keeps you safe. Any link to the past you and the cops or feds could piece it together and haul your ass to jail (or at least to juvie). Add to that the fact that she not only keeps things, but actually carries something around with her and I wanted to strangle her. From the first moment she mentions putting that old ID in her pocket, you KNOW she is going to lose it and it’ll fall into the wrong hands. That is obvious plot point numero uno.

Then we have Parker, her “brother.” Again, I wanted to like him, but I really didn’t. He felt stuck-up and had this weird vibe going with Grace. I was never quite sure if he felt brotherly towards her or romantically. He keeps convincing her to run away with him and leave the family of cons, and even with the creepy vibe, Grace should have taken that deal. I know how this will end for you both, so you know, run, and run now.
Mulan run away gif
And he was just as amateurish as Grace. He discusses the con in unsafe locations and he makes mistakes, though he doesn’t do anything as monumentally stupid as she does.

We have all the side characters, but I just mostly feel bad about the ones Grace genuinely befriends as well as Logan. This guy’s only fault is that he falls for Grace and has a dad with mental issues. He probably has no idea that there is a massive amount of gold hidden somewhere in his house and he gets duped for it anyway. He’s smart and sweet and a really good guy and I HATE that he gets caught in this mess.

Overall, I’m just monumentally disappointed in this. I had super high hopes and expectations and they were not met in the least. I had the hardest time finishing it! Anytime I’m reading a novel that I’m just not loving (or something just when I’m curious), I check out the book’s reviews. I see what other people are saying about it and that was a mistake of the highest order. About halfway through, I started looking at reviews and saw how upset people were with the ending. I didn’t find spoilers of what actually happened, just the basic doom that it was not going to have a nice ride off into the sunset for any of the characters. From that point, I only read a chapter here and there because I already wasn’t loving it and the doom ending was not motivation to finish it. After about 2 weeks of this, I finally managed to complete it and I was just as upset and disappointed as I imagined I’d be. I don’t know if this is just the way the book ends or if it will be a series and this is just to get us going, but either way, this is not my happy gnome face. That is no way to end a story, even if it is the beginning of a series. Nothing is really resolved and everyone is much worse off for their trouble. Well, everyone but one particular person and that makes it even worse. You get smacked with hurt and betrayal and then it’s over. Roll Credits. Story finished. And I’m left slack-jawed and upset.

Basically, I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone I know. Even to people who don’t mind bad endings, but this felt like a non-ending. The story just stops and expects you to live with that. I don’t want to live with that! I want to know a few more things before you close that curtain, even if they are bad things. Beyond the bad ending, just felt misrepresented. These people are not professional con artists. They are hacks with a few tricks up their sleeves, but that’s it. It was also incredibly slow. You get dropped into the plot and then it just crawls by. Weeks of planning and getting in with the good crowd and then procrastinating. None of it was so enrapturing that I couldn’t put the book down and the only character I really cared for was the one getting screwed over! Plus, there were so many random things they left just hanging out there. Like Grace’s weird neighbor. There were clues throughout the whole novel that something more would come from this mysterious guy, but nothing ever does. We never learn what the hell is up with him! Or the whole Rachel bit. Bitch is crazy, but she is also onto them and I feel like she would have done more about it than just tell her father. Either way, this was not the book for me. If I had to describe it in one word, that word would be disappointing. That really says it all, doesn’t it?

****Thank you to Harper Teen for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review****

1 bow
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Review for The Secrets Of Attraction by Robin Constantine

The Secrets Of Attraction by Robin Constantine

TITLE: The Secrets Of Attraction
SERIES: The Promise Of Amazing Companion Novel
AUTHOR: Robin Constantine
PUBLICATION DATE: April 28, 2015
PUBLISHER: Balzar + Bray
PAGES: 384 pages
FORMAT: eARC / ARC
SOURCE: Publisher via Edelweiss / Won
RATING: 5 bows

Madison Pryce has her life all figured out. She is working on her portfolio to make sure she can become the architect she dreams of, she has a close group of friends, and a hot boyfriend. Then she finds out something that changes everything. Suddenly she isn’t so sure she knows what she wants and who she wants it from. Jesse McMann still hasn’t gotten over his last girlfriend. She smashed his heart to smithereens when she dumped him in favor of his best friend….who also happened to be his drummer. He lost his love and his band in one fell swoop. Now that his finally gotten around to auditioning a new drummer, fate steps in. The new drummer just happens to be Grayson Barrett, boyfriend to Wren who is besties with Madison (AKA, the girl who comes in every Thursday for a chai). The more time Jesse & Madison spend together, the more they feel the pulls of attraction. Can they get over their issues and make things work or will their problems get in the way?

Madison was a character I liked instantly. She’s smart, fun, driven, and she knows exactly where she wants her life to go. She’s also so artsy, which is something I admire. I can’t draw a stick figure or imagine an awesome new lay-out for a house, or take dynamic photographs (though I can snap near perfect concert pics). Madison can do all those things. Though she wants to go into architecture, she’s always trying to do other things to add to her portfolio to showcase her willingness to take risks and try new things. She also doesn’t take things too seriously. She likes to keep things light and fun, never really the type to get into a serious relationship. Even when she starts getting closer to Jesse, she just wants to hang out and fool around with him, enjoy his company. The thought of a serious commitment doesn’t really enter her mind. That’s thrilling for me because I was the exact opposite. I was more of a Wren than a Madison, but it’s fascinating to read from an entirely different perspective. The way she handles her feelings about the changes and new information in her life was so heart-breakingly realistic. She’s in a no win situation. This is something that should make her happy. It’s definitely not bad news and yet, she can’t come to terms with it. I loved it so much. I also loved how confident she was in herself. In YA, we get a lot of girls who don’t think much of themselves. We get those girls that think they are ugly but all the guys swarm telling the oh so clever audience that the girl is far from ugly. That is not to be found here. Madison knows she’s attractive. She isn’t overly cocky about it, just confident enough to admit she looks good. It was entirely refreshing to read that after all the Bella Swan character types I’ve been seeing.

Jesse may have been more swoon-worthy than Grayson was….at least until Gray shows up here and starts stealing my heart again.
Cluesless swoon gif
Nope, must focus on Jesse! Part of what I loved about Jesse is his dual personality. There was normal Jesse and then there was Stage Jesse. I loved that he was entirely aware of how confident he became onstage and tried (and failed) to emulate that in normal life. That is something about the lights and the crowd and the guitar that allows him to let go and know it’ll be okay. It was wholly adorable. Everything about him is adorable. I’m sure that’s not what he’s going for. He’s going for that hot rock god thing and, while he succeeds at that, I’m more a sucker for the adorable-ness that comes around when he isn’t on stage. Plus, you kinda just want to give the guy a hug. He literally had his heart torn out and stomped on. He’s best friend stole his girlfriend from underneath him. Losing your girlfriend is hard enough, but knowing your best friend cares so little about you that he’d take that away and ruin your band in the process (because no high school band can survive that kind of drama) is beyond devastating. Plus, neither one of them seem sorry. They both act as if Jesse’s feelings don’t factor in to the equation. Which is really shitty. I’m not a fan of that whole “love makes it okay to fuck with people thing.” Love is important and I’m behind that emotion 100% but it doesn’t negate basic courtesy. If things weren’t working, Hannah should have said something instead of fucking around with Jesse’s friend. Said friend should have turned down Hannah’s advances because he knows better. I kinda wanted to bitch slap both of them. But it’s okay because Jesse’s better off. The only thing I didn’t love about Jesse was his taste in music. I’m probably the only rocker on the planet who can’t stand Nirvana or Pink Floyd, but I despise both of them. Every time I see them mentioned anywhere, I can’t help rolling my eyes. I do applaud Constantine for putting in actual band names. I know people say specifying the bands or songs can date a novel, but I prefer that. Even if it’s songs I hate, at least I can ground the novel more by listening to what the characters are. And it can introduce me to new music which is always a plus.

This was possibly better than The Promise Of Amazing. Me saying that is a huge thing because I loved TPOA. My only issue with it was some of the dialogue felt a bit off. I did read an ARC of that, so it’s quite possible it was fixed before publishing and my issue became a moot point, but sometimes Gray’s words bugged me and pulled me out of the story. That is not the case here. All the talking (verbal or otherwise) felt very realistic. I loved that the cursing wasn’t just limited to the guys. Madison and Wren both say fuck at least once and that makes it more believable for me. I know that’s not the case for everyone, but I cursed in high school (and still do ^-^) and though I know there are people who don’t, I find that hard to believe and relate to. Sometimes in life, I feel like swear words are necessary. When you stub your toe and it hurts so bad you think you might have broken it “oh poo” just doesn’t cover it. So I loved that the characters spouted real swear words and not stupid substitutes. That’s actually a pet peeve of mine that I blame on the House Of Night series. At no point in life should one ever utter the words bullpoop in lieu of bullshit. It doesn’t work. If you must refrain from cursing, simply say BS and let it be. Mini-rant over.

This should have annoyed me in many ways. I hate love triangles.
Alan Rickman annoyed gif
But this was done so differently that I couldn’t be mad at it. Besides, it was more like a love….what kind of shape pentagon. It make me think of that Amanda Bynes movie She’s The Man. Zack loves Madison, who likes Jesse, who is hung up on Hannah, who is with Duncan. It’s hard to be mad at Madison for the triangle when its clear that she never meant for it to happen. It’s obvious to annoying who pays attention that she just wanted things to be causal with Zack and he just couldn’t handle that. And Jesse isn’t really in a triangle, he is just mopey over HannaDunk, which is understandable. Fuck, poor Jesse. I just feel so bad for him.

What it comes down to is this: this is the perfect contemporary YA romance. You get angst, drama, wit, charm, and, of course, romance. It’s fun, it’s heart-breaking at times, and it has that perfectly imperfect ending that we call crave. Things end on a good note, but there is still enough room for growth and development for the characters that you know everything won’t be 100% perfect. I loved it so much, I don’t think there are words. Basically, if you are a fan of Stephanie Perkins or Kasie West or Claire LaZebnik, you’ll love this!

****Thank you to Balzar + Bray for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****

5 bows
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Review for Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer

Cress by Marissa Meyer

TITLE: Cress
SERIES: The Lunar Chronicles #3
AUTHOR: Marissa Meyer
NARRATOR: Rebecca Soler
PUBLICATION DATE: February 4, 2014 / February 4, 2014
PUBLISHER: Feiwel & Friends / Macmillan Audio
PAGES: 550 pages / 15 hours 40 minutes
FORMAT: Hardback / Audio
SOURCE: Gift from my husband / borrowed
RATING: 5 bows

***PLEASE EXCUSE ANY SPELLING ERRORS. I LISTENED TO THIS WHOLE THING ON AUDIO, SO I’M NOT SURE HOW EVERYTHING IS SUPPOSED TO BE SPELLED.***

Cress has spent most of her life orbited Earth in a satellite. She has been alone with only netscreens for company and has become a rather talented hacker. She has mastered anything with net access. She dreams of being rescued and going to Earth. Seeing the beautiful world and all it’s treasures up close. But when Cinder’s band of misfits tries to rescue her, things go horribly wrong and the group gets separated. Now, in addition to trying to save 2 worlds, they must also find their way back to each other. Plus, each character has their own troubles and turmoil to deal with. One thing is certain, they will stop Levana or die trying.

What can I say about Cress? It might possibly be my favorite of the series yet. I loved Cinder and I really enjoyed Scarlet, but Cress may just have topped both of them. It was excited and intense. It was that book that you ignored the world for just one more chapter because you had to know what happened next. Does Cress get Thorne to like her? Can Cinder stop Kai’s impending nuptials? Will she ever tell him that she is Princess Selene? Can they rescue Scarlet? And, most importantly of all, does Iko ever get a real android body?!?!?

Cinder, Kai, Scarlet, Wolf, and Thorne are all present and accounted for, with the new additions of Cress and Jacin. Cress, I must say, is a character I immediately adored. She reminded me a bit of Iko because of her enthusiasm for certain things. She’s smart and sweet and completely obsessed with Thorn in the most adorable way. Thorn, by the way, really shows his swoon-worthy side here. I already loved Thorne he’s smart and cocky and sarcastic, but he’s even better here. We really get to see him fight to protect Cress and that was a sight to behold.

I’m still unsure about Jacin. On one hand, I like him and I know we are setting up to give Winter a love interest for the final book, but I’m not sure I trust him. Though he is loyal to his Princess, that doesn’t necessarily mean he is loyal to Cinder and her cause. I feel like he might just throw a wrench in things and fuck the plans up if it suits his needs or desires. I guess only time will tell. I’m pretty anxious to get my hands on Winter. Why does it have to be so much longer until it releases?

Levana just needs to die. That bitch needs to die bloody and she needs to die now. I’m a little apprehensive to read Fairest because I know it’s going to try to shed a sympathetic light on Levana and I don’t want to have any sympathy for her. I want to continue hating her as I do now. I don’t think Fairest will truly change my opinion of her, but I think it will try.

If I could only use one word to describe this novel, it would be intense. This thing is jam packed with action and adventure and danger and tension. From the moment you start this and get inside Cress’ mind, you just want to continue. As with the rest of this series, I have listened to it with my husband, which means that we have only listened when we were together and neither one of us had anything pressing that needed to be done. We would use any excuse to get into his car and go on a trip, driving slow and going to long way around just to get in a few extra minutes. We would get home and sit in the car trying to find just a minute more time to get more of this compelling story. Because once we go into the house, real life kicks in and I have reviews to write and he has work to do and we can’t just sit and listen anymore. Anyone who has enjoyed the series thus far will fall in love with Cress. Anyone who read Cinder and loved it, but didn’t love Scarlet the same way, will fall back in love with the series here. I highly recommend it to everyone.

Audio Notes:
In Cinder, I was okay with Rebecca Soler. In Scarlet, I liked her a bit more. Here, I almost loved her. The more I listen, the more I like her. She does an excellent job of differentiating voices here, which is quite a feat considering that there are six characters I would describe as main characters and a handful more that are a bit more than minor. Her pacing is just a touch fast at moments. There was more than one time I had to skip 30 seconds back and relisten to discover what I had missed. And she still says Nancy weird. I can’t help but snicker every time she says it. Still, I enjoyed her narration and will be looking to sample more of her work.

5 bows
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