Under a Painted Sky – Two runaway girls, a sisterhood, a family.

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Publication date : February 11th, 2017goodreads

Publisher : Penguin Random House

Genre : Young Adult | Historical Fiction

Page Count : 384

Synopsis : Missouri, 1849: Samantha dreams of moving back to New York to be a professional musician—not an easy thing if you’re a girl, and harder still if you’re Chinese. But a tragic accident dashes any hopes of fulfilling her dream, and instead, leaves her fearing for her life. With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha flees town for the unknown frontier. But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls, so they disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy, two boys headed for the California gold rush. Sammy and Andy forge a powerful bond as they each search for a link to their past, and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. But when they cross paths with a band of cowboys, the light-hearted troupe turn out to be unexpected allies. With the law closing in on them and new setbacks coming each day, the girls quickly learn that there are not many places to hide on the open trail.
This beautifully written debut is an exciting adventure and heart-wrenching survival tale. But above all else, it’s a story about perseverance and trust that will restore your faith in the power of friendship.
(
From Goodreads)

Rating : 4.5 stars

Under a Painted Sky.png(No Spoilers)

Before reading this book, I hadn’t read a historical fiction in the LONGEST time and I really missed it so you can imagine how excited I was to finally pick it up. Plus, I had never read a book about the California Gold rush so that doubled my excitement. And this book truly exceeded all the expectations I had for it which were already high considering a friend whose opinion I trust had read and loved it. And now I love it too. No, I adore it, so so much. AH!

The writing is breathtakingly beautiful. It’s refined and gorgeous and I could feel how much loss and grief Samantha was feeling just from the way the emotions were weaved through the narration. The narrative feels very personal, as if I were reading someone’s journal especially since it’s filled with the MC’s beliefs and superstitions as well as the way she sees the others and feels about them. I just honestly couldn’t get enough of the writing, it had me hooked. The little bits that made me double up are some french translations that were wrong gender wise.

I don’t think I will stop talking about the writing if something doesn’t stop me, the descriptions are just mezmerizing, the way the Oregon trail is described made me feel as if I were there, it’s so vivid and detailed. The author also uses the opportunity given by the time period to unpack racist, sexist stereotypes as well as slavery. This was not only done through the girls’ experiences along their travels but also throughout active dialogue between the two, discussing the anti-blackness Andy (Annamae) is subject to and how each one of them experiences racism differently.

Under a Painted Sky wasn’t what I expected it to be, in the best way possible. It is one of the most heartbreaking but also hopeful stories I’ve ever read. That’s how I came out of reading it, filled with hope for the characters as well as genuinely happy, which wasn’t the case for the biggest chunk of the book. understandably. Samantha, the main characters, and Anna mae are fugitives so you can imagine how full of hardships and obstacles their journey must be but through it all, they had each other, from start to finish.

I truly didn’t realize how much I was loving the book until I had to put it down and go to sleep but found myself not wanting to. The only critique I can give about the book is that a bit of the ending was a bit rushed. As a whole, it was just like I wanted it to be and I was extremely satisfied but I would’ve liked certain events that led up to that point to be more elaborated. I’m not complaining much though, because as I said before the ending made me feel very happy and hopeful because in a way left open so I could imagine that these characters that I came to love and care for will be okay no matter what.

This book has one of the best friendships I’ve ever read, such a tight-knitted, precious relationship. In fact, it felt like more than a friendship, some sort of unbreakable bond that’s created only by having just the only person to count on and trusting them with your life. Sammy and Andy were like sisters by the end of the book and seeing that develop and unfold was beautiful and touching. The girls had each other’s backs no matter what and could understand each other beyond words.

The characters all have a single thing in common, which is loss. They’ve all lost something or someone that they haven’t really gotten over, and that thought was heartbreaking and made me forget that in fact, they are teenagers or barely adults (although, in that time period, people grew up faster and 16 then isn’t the same as 16 now). There was just so much hurt, life experience and wisdom in all of them than I couldn’t help but get attached to every single one of them.

I loved Samantha, she may come off as dull and boring at the start of the book but I think that was done on purpose, because with the development she goes through, she blooms and grows more and more confident. She’s actually very smart and resourceful. Annamae came across to me as an old soul, she’s so full of knowledge and like she had to age before her time came (understandably), she has a sort of quiet strengh and determination embed in her that made her my favorite.

Peety, West and Cay were unexpectedly amazing. When I first started reading, I thought they’d be just ephemeral, people they’d meet along the way and that’s it. But then, when I realized they were there to stay, I worried about them not having depth and being there just for the sake of the girls having companions not as wholesome people but I was wrong and I’m glad I was. The cowboys are amazing, each one of them crafted with depth and attention to make them as real as possible through Sammy’s eyes. I loved how they brought this sort of lightness to the story because they loved to tease and joke around. The banter between them and the girls flowed nicely and naturally and I found myself giggling quite a few times. By the end of the story, all five of them made up their own little family on the road.

I’d recommend this book to everyone, reading it was an amazing, emotional journey that you don’t want to miss out on, full of thoughtful and thought provoking discussions that will leave you thinking about it well after you finish it.


That’s it until next time.

Did you read Under a Painted Sky? If so, what did you think?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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The Orphan’s Tale – Where a Circus is the last Thread of Hope

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Publication date : February 21st, 2017goodreads

Publisher : Harlequin / MIRA

Genre : Adult | Historical Fiction

Page Count: 368

Synopsis : Seventeen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier during the occupation of her native Holland. Heartbroken over the loss of the baby she was forced to give up for adoption, she lives above a small German rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep.  

When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants, unknown children ripped from their parents and headed for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the baby that was taken from her. In a moment that will change the course of her life, she steals one of the babies and flees into the snowy night, where she is rescued by a German circus. 

The circus owner offers to teach Noa the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, spurning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid. At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond. But as the facade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their unlikely friendship is enough to save one another—or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything. (From Goodreads)

Rating : 4 stars

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*I received an Arc of this book from the publishers through Netgalley in exchange of an honest review*

(No Spoilers)

I’ve had this book for quite a few months now, waiting for the release date to get closer so that I could read it but then came December and it was still two months until the release and it has SNOW on the cover, I just felt in the right mood for it, being on a Historical fiction streak and all, so I read it. The most accurate word for me to describe this book is: Real. The stories, the feelings, the ending. Just, everything felt so real and raw and I absolutely loved that, albeit it ultimately crushed me.

There is no arguing it, the writing in this is beautiful. It is so simple yet hold a lot of emotion and meaning to it, weaving perfectly between 2 POVs that were so similar yet very different from each other. Just so you know, this is a slow book,  but not in a bad way, it was a really nice change and just the pace it needed, though if you don’t like books like that you might not like this one because it tends to get pretty repetitive as the characters settle into a routine.

The Orphan’s Tale (which is a brilliant title for this book) starts with a prologue of which I didn’t see the added value at first, actually I didn’t see it throughout the whole novel, but then as I reached the epilogue everything made perfect sense and it was such a clever thing to do, starting the novel that way. The epilogue’s events come right after the prologue’s so it not only flows smoothly but it also ties the loose ends and gives each character an ending.

What first made me want to read this book is the circus element during the WWII period, it was such a unique concept and I expected it somehow to have some magic in the midst of all the horror (I don’t know how) BUT it wasn’t, it leaned more towards the technical aspects of the circus (especially the trapeze) as well as the general life in it, it being not as exciting as everyone expects to be. Which was as interesting in my opinion, there was a routine, some animosities, etc… What was most peculiar about the circus element, it that once people come to watch the show, time freezes and they forget about the war for a little while, it’s like it is the last thread of hope everyone hold on to. Even the performers.

As I said in the beginning, this is a heartbreaking story, as one is expected to be when it is set during WWII in France (and a bit of it in Germany). There is no light at the end of the tunnel, at least not for all characters, things get so brutal and harsh that some of the characters lose all hope and do some drastic things. And the worst of it is that it is inspired by real events, the author drew pilars of the story from things that happened to actual people, which she had found while doing her research. One last thing that I really appreciated about this book is that the author made sure to remind us that even in time of war people die of other things than the war, which I personally tend to forget because the war just consumes everything.

Now onto the characters. But to be honest, I don’t feel comfortable calling them that because they felt so much like real people that I literally felt uneasy saying they were characters. My brain works in weird ways. I know.

Noa is a 17 year old girl who is “perfect” by the Reich’s standard but after becoming pregnant she’s chassed out of her parents’ house and has to survive on her own. What first stricked me about her is how brave and tenacious she is, having trouble feeding herself and still saving a little baby from the Nazis’ claws. And as the story progresses, she only grows more mature and confident. The thing that bothered me in the whole book is how her romance with french guy Luc (whose name is Lucienne which is a french girl’s name, oups. Lucien would be the boy equivalent) was introduced, it was so rushed and felt so out of place especially when after only two meetings they confessed their love to each other.

Astrid is the older one. She’s a jewish woman in her late 30s whom the war hit hard, she lost everything because of it and the circus was her shelter. She is such a resilient woman and I truely admired her for all she was. She seems like a cold-hearted, harsh person at first but as the story progresses we get to know her and how big her heart is.Now, HER relationship with Peter I absolutely adored. Giving the precariousness of their situation, they lived in the moment because there was no future to be had in that period, which really showed in their interactions and intimate moments. It was passion mixed with fear and urgency.

I LOVED Astrid and Noa’s relationship. It was very improbable because of their rocky start as well as the age gap. They came to be friends, a family to each other and at the end everything they had left in the world. Astrid became like a mother figure to Noa, soothing her, chasticising her, baring with her endless amount of questions.

I truely loved this book and  I would recommend it to any Historical Fiction lover like myself who wants to learn a little more about the WWII time period while diving into a well executed, unique premise.


That’s it until next time.

Did you read The Orphan’s Tale? If so, what did you think?

Did it break your heart as much as it did mine?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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The Conversations we Never Had – Where an Old Lady gave me A History Lesson

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Publication date : May 3rd, 2016goodreads

Publisher : Outskirt Press

Genre : Non-Fiction | Historical Fiction

Page Count: 208

Synopsis : This is the dream of a grandson, who had taken his grandmother for granted, to have a second chance, the opportunity to learn about his family from the only person in the world who knew them, who remembered them. My father remembers nothing about his real parents for they were dead by the time he was nine. Olga, his mother’s younger sister, survived the Holocaust, found my father hiding on a farm in Poland and later brought him to America to raise as her own. He never asked her any questions about his parents. Though I later moved in with Olga for a period of time, I repeated history and never asked her the questions my father never asked. Olga has been gone for more than twenty years, along with everything she could have told me, leaving me with a sense of guilt and profound regret. The Conversations We Never Had is a chronicle of my time spent with Grandma “Ola” and tells the stories she might have shared had I asked the questions. (From Goodreads)

Rating: 3.5 stars

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*I was provided a copy of this book by the author and Book Publicity Services in exchange of an honest review* 

(No Spoilers)

If you guys know anything about me, you know that I don’t usually read non-fiction, it is just not something that draws my attention or captivates me. But this book made the cut simply because of the Historical Fiction part of it, and that is one of my favorite genres expecially when it is about the period around WWII, that is a time period that fascinates me and I’ll never get tired of reading books set then. But because of the fact that Conversations is non-fiction, 2 things happened:

  1. I went in very sceptical and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it
  2. I don’t know how to properly review it (Hello non-fiction Newbie!)

Anyway, let’s do this! The writing is my least favorite part of it all, not that it’s bad or anything. It is a style common to a lot of non-fiction and one I don’t personally enjoy because it is mostly this happened and I did this and that, and can drag quite a bit when you don’t like it. One other thing that annoyed me is how lengthy and unnecessary some of the descriptions are. I am not even kidding or exaggerating, somewhere around the beginning I got 2 pages of the author describing AN APPARTMENT, just why? I don’t see why it is relevant to the story in this case.

Luckily, the book is mostly one giant dialogue which would’ve bothered me in any other circumstances but it worked with what the other was trying to achieve. History was told in a conversational tone, like if I my grandma was really telling me about her past experiences and that kept me captivated through the book and I didn’t feel bored whatsoever. I wish all my history lessons were taught this way!

The concept is original as well. The author explores the What ifs of his own life, some regrets that he cannot fix. What if he had taken advantage of the time he had with Grandma Ola? What if she had told him all about her life as well as his biological grand-parents lives? And from there on, he threads a story -with the help of actual facts he had from his grandma’s past as well as history- of what she might have told him if he had taken the time to sit with her and listen to her. What he comes up with is such a poignant, raw story of a Holocaust surviver. And the research he did on the matter really showed through the pages of the book.

The author imagines what his grandma’s life might have been like from when she was a little girl until she moved to America looking for a fresh start. And that ranges from her relationship with the people in her life to what might have been her horrifying survival story. In my opinion, he manages to translate the terrifying situations greatly.

“Can you imagine your father, a little boy, hiding like that, knowing that a sneeze of a cough at the wrong time could be the end of him?”

“This was one of the most terrifying things to do in thoses days, to run from a German soldier with your back to him; you never knew whether the next step would be your last. This was a world where people could kill you at anytime and for nothing. Nothing.”

The author uses this opportunity to explore Jewish values, customs and beliefs in different fields. Like for exemple, why they prefered marrying other Jews, why they choose to learn crafts and do jobs where they didn’t have to depend on anyone. And so on and so forth. Another thing I really appreciated is how this book gives life lessons implicitely. On love, marriage, social interactions, personal growth, privilege, judging people etcetera etcetera.

All in all, I would recommend this book to everyone, especially if you’re interested in learning about the Holocaust, as well as what life before and after. It is an enjoyable, quick and informative read.


That’s it until next time.

Did you read The Conversations we never had? If so, what did you think?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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Blood for Blood – The Book that squeezed my Heart into Dust

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Publication date : November 1st, 2016goodreads

Publisher : Little Brown Books for Young Readers

Genre : Young Adult | Historical Fiction

Page Count: 481

Synopsis : There would be blood.
Blood for blood.
Blood to pay.
An entire world of it.
For the resistance in 1950s Germany, the war may be over, but the fight has just begun.
Death camp survivor Yael, who has the power to skinshift, is on the run: the world has just seen her shoot and kill Hitler. But the truth of what happened is far more complicated, and its consequences are deadly. Yael and her unlikely comrades dive into enemy territory to try to turn the tide against the New Order, and there is no alternative but to see their mission through to the end, whatever the cost.
But dark secrets reveal dark truths, and one question hangs over them all: how far can you go for the ones you love?
This gripping, thought-provoking sequel to Wolf by Wolf will grab readers by the throat with its cinematic writing, fast-paced action, and relentless twists.
(From Goodreads)

Rating : 5 stars

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(No Spoilers)

So… The wait for this book has ended and I. AM. BROKEN. I know I kept ranting since I finished Wolf by Wolf but I WASN’T READY FOR THIS. Blood for Blood was equally brilliant and horrifying. I loved it as much as I hated it. It not only lived up to all the expectations I had built up for it, it also exceeded them by a lot. I.. I just feel like I have so much to say that I will be struggling to write this review because I am destroyed and heartbroken and sad. But I also feel happy because of how everything wrapped up even though I want more of these characters.

This book is 100% different from the first. Story wise which I’ll get into later but also some aspects of the writing. What’s similar is the feeling it conveys, it is as intense, if not more than in the first book, I felt it in my gut, twisting my heart and stomach in all kinds of way. The chapters are short which helped me fly through the book like no other. Now what’s different is that instead of having everything from Yael’s point of view we mainly have 3 POVs (with some other popping up here and there). Yael, Luka and Felix. And that I appreciated because it gave me a more rounded perspective and a clearer view of what was happening and when it was happening.

As its prequel, Blood for Blood goes back and forth between our characters’ present and their past with very well placed flashbacks that allowed me to get to know the characters a lot better, especially Felix and Luka and how they were shaped into the people they were during that period.

The story picks up a few minutes before Wolf by Wolf’s ending from Luka’s POV so we get to see things from the outside, so when Yael jumps, he follows and the action picks up -to never slow down. In the first book we don’t get to experience WWII much because it’s mostly the Axis Tour, so it’s mostly a competition but in this one we get to see the full impact that Hitler’s win had on the world, it’s was destroyed, angry, robbed of all freedom. The things happening were terrifying and heartbreaking. Ryan Graudin doesn’t chew on her words and portrays war in such a detailed, raw way that I was really impressed with all the research she must have done to have such a mind-blowing result.

Here, our MCs are essentially on the run so imagine how action packed that is. And multiply it by 10 to have it how it REALLY is. It was seriously unputdownable, I stayed up really late at night reading and read it every chance I got during the day which I don’t normally do. It is also unpredictable. When picking the book up, I imagined A LOT of ways it could go them, but none of them were the actual thing. It is so intricate and well thought out that I don’t think it is possible for anyone to predict the course of things from the beginning.

I also loved the book for the strong relationships it was built on, from romantic ones to friendships and family bonds (not just blood-family). Some characters were made stronger because of them, some others weak. Not only that but it has amazing women as leaders and I LOVED that, Yael, Henrika, the soviet commander (I can’t say her name because that is kind of a big spoiler).

Yael is as kick-ass as ever but she was vulnerable as well, which was a very interesting side of her to get to know. She was doubting herself and her decision as if she was just realizing that the future of the world was depending on her. I will never say this enough, she is one of my top 2 favorites female characters and I don’t think she’ll ever be detroned, she’s just too amazing for it. The other POVs made me realize just how intimidating and mysterious she seemed from the outside which a gave me a fresh side to look at her from.

I LOVE LUKA, YOU GUYS!!! He completely won me over in this book. He’s so cocky, sexy and snarky, even when it’s inappropriate and I think that his humour is what kept everyone sane when things got rough. Felix! Oh, Felix! I DESPISED HIM, things only got worse between us from where Wolf by Wolf left us, he was weak and easily impressionable and put them in extreme danger more often than not because of his stupidity. UGHH!!

The romance in this is PERFECT! I loved the way it evolved, how Yael and Luka started trusting each other, sharing personal things without even realizing they were actually getting closer. I shipped them with every fiber in my body and how they had each other’s backs through everything.

Last but not least, can we talk about that ending for a bit? IT RUINED ME. I AM SHATTERED. I AM DESTROYED. I cried non-stop through the last few chapters because I just couldn’t process and be okay with the things that were happening. But I guess that made things all the more brutal and realistic and my brain gets how appropriate that is but my heart can’t deal. To sum up this book, it is all chase, war, roth and death, with a tinsy bit of swooning that thankfully didn’t take front stage.


That’s it until next time.

Did you read Blood for Blood? If so, what did you think?

Who was your favorite character? What did you think of the ending?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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Homegoing – Century upon Century, from Parent to Child: A Legacy

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Title : Homegoing

Author : Yaa Gyasi

Publication date : June 7th, 2016

Publisher : Knopf

Genre : Adult | Historical Fiction

Synopsis : The unforgettable New York Times best seller begins with the story of two half-sisters, separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a British slaver. Written with tremendous sweep and power, Homegoing traces the generations of family who follow, as their destinies lead them through two continents and three hundred years of history, each life indelibly drawn, as the legacy of slavery is fully revealed in light of the present day.
Effia and Esi are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation. 
(From Goodreads)

Rating: 5 stars

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“We believe the one who has the power. He is the one who gets to write the story. So when you study history, you must always ask yourself, Whose story am I missing? Whose voice was suppressed so that this voice could come forth? Once you have figured that out, you must find that story too. From there, you begin to get a clearer, yet still imperfect, picture.”

(No Spoilers)

Here we go. I want to start off by saying that I’ve been dreading the time when I have to review this book because I feel like my words can never do it justice. That shows how in love I am with this book and I quite frankly hold it on a pedestal.  Yaa Gyasi is such a gifted and intelligent writer that “Homegoing” has quickly become one of my favorite reads of 2016 and possibly -for sure- of all times.

I know that a lot of people say “I learnt a lot from this book”, “this book was eye-opening” when talking about a impactful book and I sometimes thought that they kind of made a big deal out of it because no book had really changed my life, and it still hasn’t but this is as close as it will ever get because Homegoing left a mark on me, it touched me deeply, in ways I never thought a book could. It made me feel a large scope of emotions going from anger to happiness, with hurt, disgust and fear in between. But I strongly believe that all those feelings, albeit not all pretty, were all necessary.

The writing in this book is breathtaking, it was so heartfelt and emotion-filled that I had to take breaks at some points because I just couldn’t deal with all the horrible things I was reading about. We get chapters alternating between each of the two sisters’ lineage going from parent to child at the same rate which really set the gap between the part of the family that was enslaved and the one that remained free.

The story is all about legacy, it shows how even things that we think are so old they don’t matter anymore still impact our lives. Effia and Esi are sisters who don’t know each other, the first was married off (in a horrific way I might add) to a British slaver, while the second was captured by the same man and from then on we see their lives as well as their descendants’ unfold. Effia’s side of the book is set in Ghana with characters strongly attached to their roots while Esi’s is mostly set in America after she was shipped off with characters who over times drifted away more and more from their African origins until the point where they were completely dettached because Ghana became a country that they simply knew nothing about.

This book tackles so many important issues that everyone needs to read and learn about. Biggest one is obviously slavery because that’s what the book is REALLY about, the during, the after and how it still impacts people decades afterwards, like Black Americans who were imprisoned for NOTHING just so they could make them work in the mines with terrifying conditions. But it also deals with rape, violence, injustice, identity search -especially for the half-cast or what we call mixed-race- and so on and so forth.

What’s so interesting about a story evolving over generations is that we get to see how things changed over time. With Effia’s descendants, I slowly started noticing that the superstitious elements and the beliefs (which I adored reading about) that were everything the culture was based on at first started taking a step back while schools were built, cars started making appearances and polygamy subsided. With Esi’s it was the banishement of Slavery, eventhough granted it didn’t really stop until decades after the legal suppression, the evolution of Racism as well as the apparition of hard drugs like Cocaine and Heroine.

And then, what made my heart happy is that ending, with how far the descendants have come, having it easier with each generation because of the elders’ efforts and sacrifices. Seriously, the ending made my heart swell and I’m sure it would do the same for you if you only read it. Which you really should do because this is not a book you want to miss out on.

Homegoing really made me think about things that I never considered before and taught me about a major part of history I never looked into. The story is mezmerizing and horrifiying at the same time, the things the characters went through gave me chills because it just wasn’t right, even after Slavery was over, it wasn’t really done and that was truely striking and scary.


That’s it until next time.

Did you read Homegoing? If so, what did you think of it?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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The Song of Achilles – My favorite myth gets revamped

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Title : The Song of Achilles

Author : Madeline Miller

Publication date : September 20th, 2011

Publisher : Bloomsbury Publishing

Genre : Adult | Fantasy – Historical Fiction

Synopsis : Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their difference, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess.
But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear
. 
(From Goodreads)

Rating: 4 stars

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“I will never leave him. It will be this, always, for as long as he will let me.
If I had had words to speak such a thing, I would have. But there were none that seemed big enough for it, to hold that swelling truth.
As if he had heard me, he reached for my hand. I did not need to look; his fingers were etched into my memory, slender and petal-veined, strong and quick and never wrong.
“Patroclus,” he said. He was always better with words than I.”

(No Spoilers)

Well what’s better than being a HUGE greek mythology lover and reading this book? It’s having Achilles’ myth as your favorite AND reading this book. And that’s me, folks! ME!!! But the thing is… I didn’t love this as much as I thought I would. Don’t get me wrong, I did love it but I think it was too hyped up to me and that kind of ruined it a bit. That being said, I still have many things to rave about -as per usual- that will hopefully get you to read this book. BECAUSE IT IS GOOD.

First things first (No. No realest), the writing is very poised and poetic, it suits the kind of narrative the story needs perfectly. The descriptions are on point, I might add. Especially when it comes to battle scenes, they’re gripping and left me panting afterwards because of how good and intense they were. To be honest, the writing is what kept me loving the story even when I didn’t care much for what was happening. Yes, that’s how good it is.

I went into this blind, I didn’t even read the synopsis, all I knew was what other people told me, meaning: It’s about Achilles and he’s gay. So, imagine my surprise when I realized how accurate and authentic this was to the original myth. The Illiad version that is, because for those of you who didn’t know there is a version from the Illiad which is this one and another one in which Achilles was put in a lake to gain immortality and that left the ankle by which his mother was holding him as his only weak spot. The latter is my favorite one, I was a bit disappointed when it wasn’t the one used in the book. I might add that I quickly got over that fact because I was too busy being fascinated with all the politics and laws talks as well as the works of war, honor and relationships which are some of the best aspects of Greek Mythology, in my opinion.

The story is told from Patroclus’s point of view which was a refreshing set of eyes on a beloved myth of mine. Not being much into war and fights and things that were considered manly back then, he depicted the cruelty and violence or it all with great accuracy and we also got a very interesting take on Achilles, his personnality and way of thinking. It is truly brilliant because Patroclus is kind of on the side lines for most of the story which gives us a “panoramic” view of things as he saw them. The only slight problem I had is that I felt like the story dragged on for a bit which prevented me from being as emotional as others might have been when that tragic ending came into sight. That might also be because I’m a heartless superhooman and nothing can break me.

So, I’m gonna be completely honest with you and don’t trash me until you’re done with the paragraph. I started off really hating Patroclus, I was VERY annoyed with him. For the first half of the book, he felt dull, erased and too absorbed in Achilles to be his own person. But then the went through remarquable character development and around 23 years old he became fantastic and I loved him to pieces. He started thinking for himself, seeing Achilles’ flaws and being the bravest little pumpkin while still having his vulnerability untouched. I just wanted to hug his precious face. (Can someone hug a face?)

As for Achilles, well I loved him, I was about to dislike how perfect he was and the remembered he was a demi-God, facepalmed and moved on with my life. At first. But then I hated him. HE WAS SO FREAKING ARROGANT. ggnd prjpg gfldopqm (No I didn’t fall asleep on my keyboard).I know that he’s almighty and the best fighter in all of the land and blablabla, and it’s good that he’s confident and acknowledges it but there is a fine line between that and being an arrogant brat. Which he became in the second half of the book. It ended up being his undoing. GOOD!

What I loved beyond everything (ok maybe not everything) is their chemistry. OH MY GOD!! I lived for the intimate moments *swoons* and Achilles was a changed person with Patroclus who tamed and grounded him.

All in all, give me anything Ancient Greece and I’ll devour it because those are stories that are REALLY hard to screw up and the author here managed to do a great job in highlighting certain parts of the original myth while bringing her own twist to it.


That’s it until next time.

Did you read The Song of Achilles? If so, what did you think of it?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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And the Mountains Echoed – Beautiful, Touching stories that’ll leave you hungry for more

Khaled Hosseini - And the Mountains Echoed

Title : And the Mountains Echoed

Author : Khaled Hosseini

Publication date : February 29th, 2012

Publisher : Bloomsbury Publishing

Genre : Adult | Contemporary – Historical Fiction

Synopsis : So, then. You want a story and I will tell you one…
Afghanistan, 1952. Abdullah and his sister Pari live with their father and stepmother in the small village of Shadbagh. Their father, Saboor, is constantly in search of work and they struggle together through poverty and brutal winters.
To Abdullah, Pari, as beautiful and sweet-natured as the fairy for which she was named, is everything. More like a parent than a brother, Abdullah will do anything for her, even trading his only pair of shoes for a feather for her treasured collection. Each night they sleep together in their cot, their skulls touching, their limbs tangled.
One day the siblings journey across the desert to Kabul with their father. Pari and Abdullah have no sense of the fate that awaits them there, for the event which unfolds will tear their lives apart; sometimes a finger must be cut to save the hand.
Crossing generations and continents, moving from Kabul, to Paris, to San Francisco, to the Greek island of Tinos, with profound wisdom, depth, insight and compassion, Khaled Hosseini writes about the bonds that define us and shape our lives, the ways that we help our loved ones in need, how the choices we make resonate through history, and how we are often surprised by the people closest to us.
 
(From Goodreads)

Rating: 4.5 stars

And the Moutains Echoed.png

“I now know that some people feel unhappiness the way others love: privately, intensely, and without recourse.”

(No Spoilers)

Here’s the thing guys. For the past few days I’ve been opening up this draft, looking at the blank screen, closing it again and just watching a bunch of youtube videos. PROCRASTINATION AT ITS FINEST. But the real reason for that is that I really don’t know how to review this book, I’m finding it so so hard to just gather up my thoughts into coherent sentences. My brains are failing me and I don’t understand why, because I really LOVED reading this book and all the experiences it held. Let’s try this again. Take 3:

The way this book is written felt so special, it infilrates your body without you even noticing until it has a firm hold on your heart and by the time you do notice, it is too late and you are doomed to feel everything the author wants you to feel. But seriously, the ways Husseini combines words, I swear, it produces magic of some kind. It is so simple and yet intricate and effective. And the Mountains Echoed is written in multiples POVs –more like a gazillion, but that’s beside the point- and I normally wouldn’t like that, but here it just made sense, it was the natural order of things.

Be warned, this a purely character driven story so if that’s not your thing, you might find this story boring. But I didn’t. It starts with little siblings’ story, a boy –Abdullah– and a girl –Pari– that get separated as kids from the little boy’s POV and then it goes to their stepmother, stepuncle –Nabi, his employer and friend –Suleiman, some Neighbors –The Bachiris, and some other people that crossed paths with these, coming back to Pari’s side of things. And they’re are all connected in one way or the other. This book is centered around relationships, all kinds -Siblinghood, Parenthood, Friendship, Romantic ones etcetera etcetera- and they are portrayed in such a genuine way that I couldn’t help relate in some aspects, especially with most of these people being muslims. My favorites were Markos and Tania, Little Pari and Abdullah ans last but noot least Suleiman and Nabi.

This story also evolves through a very long period of time following the characters from their youth until they’re old and in some cases dead which not only gives a deeper insight into their lives and thoughts but it also feels like I was living with them and experiencing everything they did. Not only that, but I could also witness Kabul’s deterioration from being a thriving city to the rise of the Talibans and the aftermath. It also deals with a variety of social issues such as povery, bribery, opression, injustice, betrayal and even terrorism though the later wasn’t really a focal point of the story.

I honestly loved all the characters, even the ones I hated. They were just so diverse and came from so many backgrounds that I felt like everyone can find a piece of themselves in the book. I know I did. There were some strong ones, cowards, liars, thieves, open-minded -A woman too modern for her own good and culture- as well as narrow-minded people. Some that were born and grew up in Afghanistan, some that fled it, some that weren’t even born there, as well as some that just went there to help. Some  –most– of the experiences they lived were really hard and heartbreaking and the little rare glimpses of happiness really shone through. And all of them impacted me in some way or another which I really appreciated.

The ending was bitter sweet to me, it made me happy as much as it broke my heart. All the tales were wrapped up nicely and it felt like everything came full circle even though not the happily ever after, but it was perfectly imperfect and summed everything because this book is meant to be flawed and it achieved that greatly.


That’s it until next time.

Did you read And the Mountains Echoed? If so, what did you think of it?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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Iron Cast – Or the Reason behind my Trust Issues

destiny-soria-iron-castTitle : Iron Cast

Author : Destiny Soria

Publication date : October 11th 2016

Publisher : Amulet Books

Genre : Young Adult | Fantasy – Historical Fiction

Synopsis : It’s Boston, 1919, and the Cast Iron club is packed. On stage, hemopaths—whose “afflicted” blood gives them the ability to create illusions through art—captivate their audience. Corinne and Ada have been best friends ever since infamous gangster Johnny Dervish recruited them into his circle. By night they perform for Johnny’s crowds, and by day they con Boston’s elite. When a job goes wrong and Ada is imprisoned, they realize how precarious their position is. After she escapes, two of the Cast Iron’s hires are shot, and Johnny disappears. With the law closing in, Corinne and Ada are forced to hunt for answers, even as betrayal faces them at every turn. 

Rating: 3.5 stars

Iron Cast.png

 

“She felt like the world was falling in on itself. Like Something nameless had splintered Inside her. She felt like she had when Gabriel had locked that door, when the first few notes of Ada’s song had wrapped around her mind. She felt broken.”

*I was provided an e-Arc of this book by the publishers through Netgalley in exchange of an honest review*

(No Spoilers)

You know how Historical Fiction and Fantasy are two of my favorite genres, right? So, just combine the two and I come running. That is exactly what happened here. Especially since this book’s era is one I have been meaning to read more from. I thouroughly enjoyed the concept and reading about the issues this books deals with, and can we talk about that cover for a second, HOW GORGEOUS IS IT? I must admit that this was a cover pick above all for me #Shallowlikethat and then the synopsis pulled me in even more.

The writing is something very settle, it is not something that would strike you or sweep you off of your feet but it is still beautiful in its own way and quite easy to keep up with. The story is written in Dual POV from both our two MCs perspectives, two girls who happen to be best friends. One of the problems that I had is that even though they have distinct personnalities, their voices were quite similar, which made me go back and look for the character’s name to situate myself in the story, and that kind of annoyed me because it kind of disturbed the reading flow.

The idea behind the story is unique and I really loved it. What it is, is that some people called “hemopaths” have a blood sickness that makes them “allergic” to iron, but on the flip side that also gives them certain powers, ART RELATED POWERS! How cool is that? There are wordsmiths, songsmiths, thespian (shapeshifters) and artists, and each one is details and has specific things that they can do which means that the magic side of things was well studied, but what I would’ve liked is for the sickness side to be that detailed too. What activates it for the first time? or at least, what are the exact symptoms? Because all it kept saying is “When the symptoms first appeared”, WHAT ARE THE DAMN SYMPTOMS? Okay, moving on.

As I said before I loved the premise and it started with a bang. A cool evasion from an Asylum. When you give me that from the start, you set the bar really high for yourself because I expect everything that follows to be head spinning and intense, and don’t get me wrong I got some intense scenes, twists and turns and betrayal that took me off guard more than once and OH MY GOD!! THIS is why I have trust issues! You don’t do that to my heart, please!! But then again, that didn’t happen until the last 100 pages of the book. Before that, there wasn’t much happening. It wasn’t boring per say, but it did catch my attention enough to keep me coming back for more, the curiosity that had me enthousiastic in the beginning kept gradually fading, which I think explains why it took me more time that usual to read less than 400 pages. I loved the ending though. It wasn’t the perfect fairytale ending, it was kind of a compromise between what’s lost and what’s gained, and some of it was left to the reader’s imagination, which in this case, is well done.

Question: Does anyone know if this is a going to be a series?

Another thing that I really appreciated is how “Iron Cast” deals with the racism that was such a normalized thing back then. But it did so in a subtle way, it wasn’t thrown at my face and it didn’t take centre stage. It was there, and I was aware of it.

Moving on to the characters. I didn’t particularly love them but I didn’t despise them either. They were alright and served their purpose. Corinne is not a nice person, as she likes to put it. She is blunt and can be rude at times -most of the time- but she is caring and passionate about her community, she has a leader kind of profile even though she can make reckless decision. On the other hand Ada is the voice of reason, she counterbalances Corinne’s temper, calling her out when she’s crossing a line. What I loved most about these girls is their relationship. I admired their blind faith in each other and how they always had each other’s backs. This is what female friendships should be represented as, take notes, people!

There’s also romance but here again it didn’t take over the plot, it was in the background with some stolen moments, little breaks from the main story. What I liked about it is that it was flawed and kept real. Not these rainbows and sunshines that solve all the problems.

Overall I really liked this book and would recommend it for its unique kind of magic. Oh! And bonus points for the Victor Hugo poem thrown in there. It is actually my favorite and I had a little fangirling moment when I read it.


That’s it until next time.

Did you read Iron Cast? If so, what did you think of it?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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Clockwork Princess – Made my shipping heart sing

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Title : Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices #3)

Author : Cassandra Clare

Publication date : September 5th 2013

Publisher : Simon & Schuster

Genre : YA Fantasy – Historical Fiction

Synopsis : A net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. Mortmain plans to use his Infernal Devices, an army of pitiless automatons, to destroy the Shadowhunters. He needs only one last item to complete his plan: he needs Tessa Gray.
Charlotte Branwell, head of the London Institute, is desperate to find Mortmain before he strikes. But when Mortmain abducts Tessa, the boys who lay equal claim to her heart, Jem and Will, will do anything to save her. For though Tessa and Jem are now engaged, Will is as much in love with her as ever.
As those who love Tessa rally to rescue her from Mortmain’s clutches, Tessa realizes that the only person who can save her is herself. But can a single girl, even one who can command the power of angels, face down an entire army?
Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment, and the tangled threads of love and loss intertwine as the Shadowhunters are pushed to the very brink of destruction in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy. (From Goodreads)

Rating : 5 stars

Clockwork Princess

“It was like I saw your soul in the notes of the music. And it was beautiful”

(No Spoilers)

Remember when I told you this trilogy gets better with each book ? I WAS RIGHT ! This book is a phenomenal sequel and finale to Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince. How? Just how can be this be the perfect ending, everything I wanted to happen and break my heart at the same time? After finishing it, I just couldn’t think straight, couldn’t deal with all the feelings it brought up. I couldn’t do anything but crawl into a corner and stare at the ceiling. Well, that and sleep because it was 2am.

This book was equally hilarious and heart wrenching, I was sobbing and snorting at the same time, choking on my tears and laugh, okay I’ll stop, you got my point. One thing I regret A LOT is that I read this after TMI, I SPOILED MYSELF !!!! So I knew a particular thing -Jem related- that was coming miles away from it actually happening, and though it broke me, I feel like it would’ve made more damage if i didn’t expect it. Damn you Fadwa !

What I love about these books is that they always have more to offer, something new to discover. So many things happened throughout this book, it is crazy. So many things were left to be solved in this and it was done amazingly, nothing was rushed, nothing was overlooked, everything fell into place when it was supposed to and that was impressive to read. Tessa grew up to embrace her power and get the most use out of it and you know what I’m talking about ! HOLY SHIT ! I admired her 10 times more for her sacrifice when there was no escaping Mortmain’s claws. Oh and Mortmain, that man is mad, and kind of a genius. But still mad. The kind of mad you never want to encounter in your life. He’s ruthless and there’s no making sense of his action. I loved everything that went down for the main plot to be resolved, each thing that previously happened made sense once the whole picture was drawn.

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And don’t even get me started on the little subplots. I ADORED how the love triangle was handled so that everyone got their little share of happiness as well as every reader if you ask me. Will’s family issues too were managed greatly as well AS EVERYTHING ELSE. kfgkjgfkddv  kdhgdl. Okay, sorry I got carried away. And the ships. So many of them. It’s crazy. I loved every little couple/potential couple, they all had chemistry and their little quirks that made them all special.

Oh, and I have a little confession to make: When a certain person got decapitated I was folded in half from laughing. Does that makes me a sadistic? Probably. But my hate for him run deep. Very deep.

THAT LAST CHAPTER. THAT EPILOGUE. I teared up, I really did. They were EVERYTHING. Especially because that epilogue was a mashup between TMI and TID. I was so so emotional reading them. Not only were they the end of this -and let’s be honest, I wasn’t ready- but they also had everything, from heartbreaking, fœtal position inducing moments, to heart-mending, joyful ones.

I won’t bore you with character details. I already talked about them from all the angles, they could’ve been talked about. All I can say is that I really came to love Gideon and Gabriel even though the latter’s intentions were really questionnable. And also, Cecily was a nice addition to the cast, she’s so similar to Will, that their interaction always resulted in funny banter.

To sum things up, this book was so satisfying and I got out of it thinking that family isn’t necessarily blood, family is the people that care about you the most, and you can choose those. It is a little philosophical, I know but it truly what happened throughout the course of the story.

Up there I give you the combination of the three new book spines, and along with that, z lot of feels.

Book depositoryAmazon


That’s it until next time.

Did you read Clockwork Princess ? If so, what did you think of it?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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Clockwork Prince – Where I fell in love all over again

10025305Title : Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices #2)

Author : Cassandra Clare

Publication date : December 6th 2011

Publisher : Simon & Schuster

Genre : YA Fantasy – Historical Fiction

Synopsis : In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street—and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa’s powers for his own dark ends.
With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move—and that one of their own has betrayed them.
Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, but her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will—the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?
As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.
(From Goodreads)

Rating : 4.5 stars

Clockwork Prince

They say that time heals all wounds, that presumes the source of grief is finite.

(No spoilers)

If you’ve read my review of Clockwork Angel you know that I was a little disappointed, that’s the reason for me going into this book with pretty low expectations but this time this book blew me away. It exceeded everything I hoped over even when keeping my expectations at a low. This book felt like seeing an old friend after years and years of absence. The previous one didn’t feel like the SH world I know and love but this one was everything I wanted and more.

By now, you know how much I enjoy Clare’s writing (ok maybe not, but know you do), it is so full of life, fun and quick to read. She also writes some of the wittiest dialogs out there and I really appreciate that. Since this is a sequel, I don’t have much more to say about the writing and I don’t want to be repetitive. Oh, one more thing, you know how I love pointing out ridiculous sentences in books? haha. Here’s one for you:

“Black hair, blue eyes, graceful cheekbones, thick dark lashes, full mouth- he would have been pretty if he had not been so tall and so muscular.”

AS IF BEING TALL AND MUSCULAR IS A BAD THING NOW! I laughed so hard at this, I’m not even exaggerating right now.

Question: Do Shadowhunters see ghosts? That part really confused me!

Moving on. I can’t go into much detail about the plot because hello spoilers! All I can say is that the first half of the plot is more of an investigation which was really captivating and not at all boring which I was afraid would happen again. And the second half, LORD HAVE MERCY ON MY SOUL! It was so so thrilling and action packed. CC has a way of withholding the truth from you, leaving you wondering until she dumps it all at once, your heart racing and your mind blown. Those twists and turns, OH.MY.GOD. I never saw any of them coming (The major ones anyway) Am I that oblivious? No. I believe I am not, but, BUT SHE GOT ME. Also, characters wise, this was a lot more focused on Will, which was bitter sweet. On one hand, it was great getting to know the man behind the mask, but on the other hand I felt like Jem was overshadowed. And well, you know how I feel about Jem.

Will, oh Will! My heart broke for him for almost the whole damn book. I feel bad for previously hating the poor guy, he does what he does because he has to and now that I know I understand why he is the way he is. I think that Magnus put it best:

“There is a soul under all that bravado. And he is really alive, one of the most alive people I have ever met. When he feels something, it is as bright and sharp as lightning.”

afde87e42d2b5247256a1939f9b704cdEven though while getting to know Will, I learned to love him, Jem takes home the gold medal. He’s just so dreamy! Oh and aside of everything I already said about him, that guy can do seemlessly HOT things. Dang it! And he can get mad too, thank God for the temper, even if it is really hard to get him to that point, he’s not dull and I love him all the more. And I STILL ship him with Tessa, I’m sorry Will I love you but nah!

Last time I said I didn’t know what to think of Tessa yet, but now I know and I like her. She’s lovely, brave and smarter than I gave her credit for. She also learned to stand up to Will and give him a taste of his own medicine, which is always funny to read about. The more I knew about her past, the more questions it raised. Plus, the whole mystery aroud the extent of her power is really intriguing. I can’t wait to learn more about it. But. BUT. I can’t help but resaint her for what I know is coming.

I still love the side characters as much but this time, I want to highlight Sophie, she’s so spontaneous and outspoken, and I liked her development from book 1, she grew stronger and more confident. Other than her, Henry and Charlotte‘s heart to heart had me all swooning with cuteness. And let’s not forget about Jessamine, I hated her from her first appearance and I WAS RIGHT! YES!! That girl is so freaking self-centered, I can’t put up with her.

This book reminded of one of the many reasons I love historical fiction. The contrast between now and then. Let me give you an exemple: I’m sitting here cursing like a sailor while Tessa slips and says “unladylike” things. HAHA. HAHAHAHA.

To sum it up, I LOVED this book for its action, for its characters, and strangely enough, for its love triangle, I normally hate those but this one is so well done that it got me on bord from the beginning. And yeah! At the end I was screaming! “YAAAAS!” and at the same time “NOOOO!” because of the romance, if you read it PLEASE tell me so, I need someone to talk to about it all.

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That’s it until next time.

Did you read Clockwork Prince ? If so, what did you think of it?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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