The Lying Game by Ruth Ware
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
"I have spent so long running from the memories, pushing them away, drowning them in drink and routine and everyday life."
Ruth Ware's The Lying Game is a psychological journey through secrets, lies, and relationships.
The book follows Isa and her former classmates through a journey of horrible memories, lies, and secrets. As they uncover truths they'd tried to overlook, they will learn that sometimes the lying game comes back to haunt you.
I loved that this book truly kept me on the edge of my seat. Just when I felt confident I had figured it out, I changed my mind. The suspense is well-built and keeps you on edge. I also liked Isa's character's imperfections and struggles. She felt very realistic and was easy to like. I found myself rooting for her.
The ending was very well done. The last page, especially, really brought everything full circle.
Overall, this book had a feel of In a dark, dark wood. The concepts were somewhat similar, and Ruth Ware's detailed style didn't disappoint. Overall, this was an engaging story about how dangerous lies can be and how they can haunt us well beyond what we ever thought possible.
I highly recommend this book and will definitely be reading the next Ruth Ware book released.
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Everything, Everything Movie Review: Sweet Love Story For Teens
As a high school English teacher and romance writer, I rarely commit the "sin" of watching a movie before reading the book. This weekend, however, I couldn't help myself when I was scrolling through HBO and found Everything, Everything.
I've seen reviews of the young adult novel all over bookstagram and have had it on my tbr list. I've also been wanting to see the movie, so I jumped in over the weekend. I wasn't disappointed.
The story follows Maddy, a teenager diagnosed with a rare illness that won't let her leave the house. Essentially, any virus or bacteria can kill her, so she's spent her entire life under the careful watch of her mother and nurse. Locked in a house where everything is sanitized, Maddy feels isolated and like she's missing out on life. When Olly moves in next door, though, her world opens up. Even though they are physically separated, their relationship grows as the somewhat wild neighbor boy steals Maddy's heart. Will she be willing to risk it all for just one real life moment with him?
Overall, the premise of the movie was very intriguing. I empathized with Maddy and couldn't help but feel sorry for her situation. The isolation and loneliness created a real problem, and the added romantic interest certainly pulled on the heart strings. I also loved how Olly brought an edge to Maddy's life. He was the typical "bad boy" who showed his sweet side for Maddy, and an endearing relationship developed. I loved how the two show the true emotional side of romance. The love story was sweet and well-developed.
Overall, the movie was a sweet watch perfect for anyone looking for a sweet romance or any teens looking for a cute love story.
I would give this movie a four out of five. The star deduction is mostly for the ending (SPOILERS BELOW: STOP READING NOW IF YOU DON"T WANT TO SEE SPOILERS)
Okay, so here is where my issue with the movie comes in.
The entire movie, I was really curious as to how the author would wrap up this love story. Could Olly sacrifice his whole life to be with Maddy? Would she be okay with it? How can you be in a relationship with someone who has such a limited opportunity to see the world, especially when your'e a bit of a wild child?
I also couldn't bear the thought of Olly and Maddy going their separate ways, especially after how much Olly brought to Maddy's world. I realized early on this presented a difficult problem for the writer and was curious as to how it would end.
But then.... I felt like there was an easy way out. Suddenly, Maddy's mom lied about the whole disease (for 17 years!). I understand the reason was plausible and did appreciate the twist. However, I couldn't shake the feeling that the author wrote herself into a corner with the love story and, to give a satisfying ending, had to "heal" Maddy.
Don't get me wrong... the happy ending was endearing and left you in a feel-good place. I would, however, have appreciated a less-than-cheerful ending if it meant the author had tackled the really tough situation head-on.
What did you think? Did you read the book? Is it different? Let me know in the comments!
Free Excerpt of Book 2 in Lines in the Sand by Lindsay Detwiler
Hi! I hope you’re having a great week. Scroll down for another free excerpt from Wild Hearts. This is one of my favorite scenes in the book because it just makes me laugh.
Will a chance and very uncomfortable run-in be the scene to finally bring Jodie and Levi together? Read on to find out why Jodie got to see a whole lot more of Levi’s gorgeous boy than she bargained for...
“Are you sure you should’ve let Gemma handle this? From what you’ve told me, she just isn’t the most trustworthy,” Avery says. We’re sitting at the kitchen island sipping coffees she brought. Avery’s forehead is dripping with sweat, and she’s trying to create airflow by pulling on the front of her shirt.
I’m wearing the skimpiest tank top and shortest shorts I could possibly find in my dresser this morning, but there’s still sweat beading on my forehead, too, and dripping down all sorts of places I don’t want to think about. I’m a hot mess, and I mean that quite literally.
It figures that on the hottest day of the year, our main air conditioner in the living room would break. Just figures.
Gemma’s out at the local Home Depot getting a new one—after swiping my half of the money for it, of course. Apparently, when she was at the bar last week, some hot guy was there who works at the Home Depot in town. I wouldn’t put her past breaking the unit on purpose for an excuse to go there.
Regardless, it’s quiet without her, and Avery doesn’t have to be at her new painting spot for a couple of hours. I’ve suggested we catch up on Teen Mom or The Bachelor. Avery has other ideas, insistent I lure the cowboy out of his apartment so she can get a look. I’ve shot the idea down. We’ve both considered having some real fun and letting Sebastian into Gemma’s room. I can just imagine the horror in Gemma’s perfectly lined eyes at the sight of the cat on his back right in the middle of her pillow.
“Hey,” Avery says after taking another sip. “Speaking of Sebastian, where is my buddy? I haven’t seen him, and come to think of it, he didn’t greet me.”
I freeze, looking at Avery before glancing around. I think back on the morning, realizing I haven’t seen Sebastian, not since I got up and noticed it was hotter than hell in here. I remember feeding him his canned cat food bright and early, but after that….
We both leap to our feet and investigate, checking Sebastian’s favorite napping spots. I find nothing but clumps of gray hair where Sebastian should be.
I start calling out his name, wondering where the big lug of a cat ended up. Avery dashes room to room.
And that’s when I see it. The window. The wide-open window, the screen that was there this morning gone.
“Dammit,” I yell, dashing toward the open window, hoping the fat cat didn’t get very far. But I don’t see him anywhere. Avery rushes to my side.
“Oh, shit,” she says.
We wordlessly dash outside, frantically peeking around the apartment lawn.
And it’s then I hear some wild parrot squawking above the country music blasting in Levi’s apartment—so much for heeding my neighborly request to keep it down.
That’s when I notice his window is, as usual, wide, wide open. He says real men believe in natural air conditioning.
“Is this the cowboy’s home?” Avery says, her eyes glimmering despite the situation.
“You know damn well it is,” I say. “But looks like he’s not home.”
I creep over to his window, peeping in to see Sebastian, all twenty pounds of him, climbing up Johnny Cash’s cage, his claws fiddling with the door, the parrot screaming. Apparently he didn’t get very far after his great escape. I can’t even begin to imagine how he got his fat body through Levi’s window and onto the parrot cage. Regardless, this is the predicament we’re in now, and I have no idea how to get us out of it.
“Oh shit,” I yell, waiting for Levi to come bolting to Johnny Cash’s rescue. But he does nothing of the sort. He truly must not be home, despite the music blaring.
Thus, I do what any sensible woman would do. I try the doorknob, find it locked, and pound furiously on the door. We wait a moment, but detect no Levi movement. I kick the door in frustration.
Avery yells at Sebastian, hands on her face. “Jo, he’s going to get the parrot. You need to get in there.”
“And how do you suppose I do that?” I scream, in panic mode.
Avery looks at me and then peeks at the window. “Here, I’ll give you a boost. You can just shimmy through there.”
“I can’t just climb through his window. Are you crazy?”
“You need to save the bird!” She is insistent, the take-charge Avery emerging in our time of crisis. I sigh and obey. She’s right. Levi might drive me crazy, but I can’t risk Sebastian hurting his bird—although if Johnny Cash bit the dust, it would be much quieter. Still, it wouldn’t be the neighborly thing or the humanly thing to do.
Avery awkwardly makes a step for me out of her hands. “Apparently neither of us were cheerleaders,” I say as we struggle and fumble on the front lawn. Finally, Avery practically tosses me to the ledge of the window, and I pull and strain to get myself through. The cat is hanging on the cage. At least he hasn’t burst it open yet.
I finally slide through the window, and Avery claps behind me, apparently proud we’ve pulled off this James Bond—hardly—move.
I yell at Sebastian, flapping my hands at him, as I cross the living room floor. I’m almost at the cage when a door flies open inside, and footsteps come running toward me, probably to see what the commotion is.
The real Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” is blaring as Sebastian meows at me, Johnny Cash the parrot screaming and flapping. Avery shrieks from the window, and says “Oh, my.” I turn slightly to see Levi staring back at me wide-eyed.
But it’s me who lets out the next scream, backing toward the window, because Levi is standing a few feet away from me, completely and utterly naked.
Like completely. Everything, everything, everything is hanging out for all to see.
And see it all we do.
It is only after a long, confusing moment he realizes what’s happening and covers himself with cupped hands, but it’s too late.
I’ve seen things I can’t unsee, and maybe don’t want to.
What did you think of Levi and Jodie’s awkward run-in? Hit Reply and let me know if this scene made you laugh. I’d love to hear from you.
P.S: Want more of Wild Hearts? Join my VIP Fan Club For your chance to get more Free excerpts of Wild Hearts. I want you to get to try it out before you buy it... I only want you to add it to your TBR pile if it's your type of romance.
5 Must-See and Must-Read Pieces to Cure Royal Wedding Fever
"I want to be a princess."
It's a line so many of us uttered as a child--and maybe some of us are still saying now. Becoming a princess is just the thing of childhood dreams. The dresses, the castle, the lovely teas and handsome prince. It's the thing of dreams, far away dreams for many of us.
So it's no wonder that when Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle live out our childhood fantasies in real life, we all get a little obsessed. There's just something magical about a royal wedding. From the clothes to the venue to the dress, it seems like the thing fairy tales are made of.
I can remember watching Kate Middleton's wedding, mesmerized by the beauty and extravagance of it all. I know for a fact I'll be tuned into Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding on May 19th, taking in all the magical beauty of the scene.
But, if you're like me, May 19th seems so far away. Other than a few cute engagement photos and the engagement interview, there's not a lot to keep the momentum going. So, I've come up with this list of top five books, movies, and shows for those of you also suffering from royal wedding fever. Feel free to comment with any additions to the list.
1. The Crown
I'll be the first to say I find The Crown to be a little bit dry. However, it does give you a deep look at the royal family and all of the crises they survived. The dresses are stunning, and the actors and actresses do an amazing job at portraying daily life for the family. It is insightful and gives you the glimpse into the lifestyle few are actually privy to.
If you're obsessed with all things royalty, this is an amazing series from the CW. It follows a very fictionalized story line of Mary Queen of Scots. Adelaide Kane does an amazing job at portraying the beautiful, young ruler. The love story between Mary and Frances is truly swoonworthy.
Although a different royal family and not historically accurate, this is sure to satisfy anyone who loves everything royalty. The costumes are to die for, the scenery and castle is magical, and the secrets and lies keep the plot engaging. This is my favorite "royalty" series of all time. I highly recommend you check out the five seasons of the show.
3. The Prince and Me
An oldie but goodie for anyone who loves the "average girl marries prince" idea. Julia Stiles does an amazing job at portraying the average, girl-next-door who unknowingly falls for a prince. It's a magical movie that gives hope to all of us that our princess dreams can come true. Check out The Prince and Me to hold you over until the royal wedding... and maybe pretend that your dreams of being a princess are still possible.
4. A Christmas Prince
This is the holiday movie that took the internet by storm. A Netflix Original, A Christmas Prince touts some cheesy acting and plot... yet is somehow irresistible. It has a similar plot to The Prince and Me, where an average girl ends up falling in love with a prince. A reporter is sent to cover a story on the prince, but accidentally ends up closer to him than she plans. As her lies snowball, she must decide whether or not to confess the truth or to follow her career passions.
It's a holiday movie, but I recommend it for anyone who can't wait for the royal wedding and wants to watch the lives of princes and princesses.
5. Tegan Wren's Inconceivable
This book is a 5-star read. It again follows the idea of an average woman (a reporter) who falls in love with a prince. However, this book actually goes into their marriage and their struggles as a couple. This book gives a realistic look at how becoming a royal could change you. For those of us who won't get to live out our princess fantasy, it makes you realize that even being royalty doesn't shield you from heavy life issues. It maybe dulls the pain of the fact that Prince Harry and Prince William are off the market.
I highly recommend this read. Check out my Goodreads review here.
Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I was intrigued by the premise of Sleeping Beauties before I ever picked it up. The idea of all of the women falling asleep and getting a sickness from which they could not awake was super interesting to me. From page one, this book truly did the plot justice.
This book is not really horror, despite the King name. I found it to be more psychological/suspense/fantasy. I really enjoyed the writing style, which was poetic at points. The description and character development is out of this world. There are so many characters in this book, but I didn't feel confused. The development is so good that I was able to keep all of the characters distinct in my mind.
I enjoyed seeing so many characters' perspectives in this book. It keeps it engaging because there are so many sub-plots happening at once. I found the premise to be interesting. I was constantly looking at the deeper meaning of the book. If you're looking, I really think the book has a lot to offer in terms of gender roles, life's meaning, and the power of secrets. I like that there is so much depth to a very different, engaging story.
The book has a very apocalyptic feel. I also felt like it had similarities with The Handmaid's Tale, which is one of my favorite books. I like the commentary on gender roles and felt that this book did a job at illuminating interesting talking points without being over-the-top or "preaching."
My only dislike came near the end of the book. I had a hard time getting through the last 100 pages because I felt like the book really slowed down. The book was exciting up through about page 600. For me, it slacked off at that point and lost my interest. I felt like the ending was way too long and lost its intensity.
I also would have liked a deeper ending. It felt like a little bit of a letdown.
This book is certainly a time investment due to its length. However, if you're looking for a very different read that deals with gender roles in an apocalyptic background, grab this book.
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5 Stars for Lou Clark's Return in Still Me
Still Me by Jojo Moyes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Louisa Clark is back... and she is, true to the title, still the fun-loving, quirky, bumble bee tights wearing girl we all fell in love with in Me Before You.
I was ecstatic to see this series continue because in honesty, I wasn't pleased with the ending of After You. In Me Before You, Louisa won me over with her witty charm, penchant for saying crazy things, and her lovable family. I wanted to be best friends with her, and I was rooting for her success.
Then, of course, Me Before You gutted my soul. If you haven't read Me Before You yet...do. And grab your tissues.
I understand why After You needed to be what it was. Still, I was left utterly disappointed. Louisa Clark was flat in After You. I missed her humor and charm. I missed her zest for life.
Still Me proves that even after horrific loss, you can find yourself again. Lou is able to reconnect with the girl she was with Will Traynor. She's able to find her exuberance for life and her passion. However, after all she's been through, she is a little different. How could she not be? In this story, Lou has to reconcile the girl she was before Will and the woman she wants to be now.
I loved the premise of this book. Lou moving to New York City was exciting and vibrant. I loved watching her explore and figure herself out. I also love the problems she encountered living with an extremely wealthy family. I thought it was imaginative and gave me a glimpse at a very different lifestyle than Lou's and my own.
Jojo Moyes did a great job at showing Lou's indecisiveness at this stage of life, something so many twentysomethings can relate to. Lou doesn't have it all figured out, and that gave me hope for myself. I liked watching her figure out who she is and what she wants.
I also enjoyed the romantic elements in the book. I thought Jojo Moyes presented a realistic problem for Lou and carried it through. I was thoroughly satisfied with the ending, which made me happy.
I am so thankful Jojo Moyes wrote this book and didn't leave Lou where she was at the end of After You. All in all, I thought this was an amazing addition to the series and helped get Lou back to a resemblance of the girl we fell in love with in Me Before You.
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If you loved Still Me, I'd love to be book buddies on Instagram with you! Come see what else I'm reading and give me your suggestions. I'd love to connect!
Life is hard. Really hard.
But sometimes love can help us find the beauty in the ordinary and find the strength to overcome pain.
This was the basis for All of You, a story of rescue and a story of hope.
Alex Evans and Marley Jade come from two very different worlds. However, in their late twenties, both characters are floundering with their life paths and what they want.
A crazy accident in the middle of the night brings them together... and they both come to realize that love might be just what they need to let go of the demons from their pasts.
Read on to meet Marley and Alex to see if they're your kind of couple.
There’s a clinking of kayaks, a flailing of body parts, a hitting of my head on something. This time when I’m submerged, it’s not an easy flip maneuver that rights me, because with Alex and his kayak so close, I’m bumping into too many obstructions.
When I kick free of my kayak and surface, I’m gasping again, clinging to the floating kayak and trying to get my bearings. I’ll never get used to being dunked in the water.
Alex comes up from the water sputtering and coughing, also clinging to his overturned kayak. “What the hell happened?” he asks, out of breath.
“I don’t know. I think maybe I leaned too far?”
Realizing we’re both safe, we calm down, still clinging to the kayaks, smiles now painting themselves on our faces. “Of all places,” Alex says. “I almost had to save you again.”
My mouth opens. “Me? You were the one who wasn’t coming up for air. I thought I was going to have to save you.”
“Please. I was a lifeguard. I’m a pro,” he teases.
I raise an eyebrow. “Well, the almost kiss that didn’t happen says otherwise.”
“You’re the one who flipped us.”
“I think it was your fault. Who the hell tries to pull off a kiss in kayaks?”
Alex shrugs, making his way around his kayak toward me, both of us still bobbing in the river. He gets close enough to pull me to him, our kayaks awkwardly clinking at the ends. His free arm wraps around my shoulders, pulling me close. We’re nose to nose, and I almost gasp, not from a lack of oxygen this time, but from the feeling of being this close.
What did you think of Alex and Marley? Feel free to comment below and tell me if they seem like a couple you'd like to read about.
Hey! I hope you’re having a great week!
Are you ready for a romance that’s full of depth and complex characters? All of You isn’t your typical guy meets girl story. It’s a story of gut-wrenching tragedy, meaningful encounters, and most of all, hope.
Take a peek below and meet Marley Jade, the most complex protagonist I’ve written to date, and see if All of You might be your kind of book.
Don’t get ahead of yourself. You don’t know him that well yet.
And it’s true. My head is holding me back. Those sparks between us feel so nice, so inviting. But the truth is this guy could turn out to be a serial killer—although it seems unlikely since he did save my life. He could have a ton of baggage, or he could decide my baggage is too much. To him, this late summer romance could be a fling of desperation. Those looks, that lust I see in his eyes could just be his manhood talking and not his heart. This is all happening too fast.
I’m not usually this easy, really. I’m difficult and reserved when it comes to love. I’ve been burned so many times my heart is warped. Still, something about those eyes, about his voice, lures me in. I’ve only spent a few hours with him, but it’s like this indescribable force within wants me to know more. Something tells me he could be just what I’ve been looking for. The dependable to my instability, the calm to my crazy. He could be the rational to my let’s get lost mentality, and the reality to my dreamer-like state. He could be the hand beside me, the encouragement to do more. He’s the one who will rein me in when I get too out of control but let me be free when it’s time to fly after those dreams.
He seems like just what my life is missing.
But just because I want it to be true, just because I’ve painted the scene in my head of us together, doesn’t mean it’ll work. He’s from California, a goal-oriented realist who got stuck in this place. I’m just a small-town nobody going nowhere slowly. I’m a rebel without a cause, a mess, and a dreamer without any wings at all.
What do you think of Marley Jade from All of You? Does she sound like a realistic character to you? Feel free to hit reply and let me know and, if she does, add Goodreads to your reading pile.
A Look At All of You's Marley Jade
I’ve come to learn one thing over the years of being an adult: Life is so hard. Truly.
When we’re young, we picture everything working out exactly as we want. We set out our life plan, picture our rosey vision for the future, and feel like the pieces will all fall into place.
Sometimes, though, that’s not what happens.
Whether it’s hauntings from our past or unexpected hurdles that surface, our lives are never, ever a perfect path to happiness. Suffering, hard choices, sadness, and pain are all a part of the human experience.
When I sat down to write All of You, I’d just finished writing the first book in my beachy series, Lines in the Sand. I love writing romantic comedies because it’s fun to explore the humor in life and expand upon it. However, as a writer, I also pride myself on not being one-dimensional. I want to capture real life, which means that for every romantic comedy, somewhere deep within is also a romantic drama.
Marley Jade from All of You is a very different character than so many of my female protagonists. She’s got a heavy past, probably the heaviest I’ve written. Her life is scarred by relics of a past she can’t quite get over. Like so many of my characters, her twenties aren’t exactly what she had pictured for herself. However, unlike my other characters, Marley Jade feels trapped by loyalty, responsibility, and the ensnaring power of her past.
Marley Jade was the first piece of the puzzle in writing All of You. As I started writing for Hot Tree Publishing Rescue Me collection, I knew for a fact that I didn’t want to just write about a physical rescue. I wanted to tackle something a little bit bigger and somewhat more taboo in our world-- I wanted to tackle the realism of a mental and emotional rescue. I wanted to highlight that in real life, the emotional and mental rescues are sometimes even harder to endure and to pull off.
More than that, I didn’t want Marley Jade to be the victim or the rescued. Sure, she has her issues. However, I saw in her a resilience and a strength I hadn’t detected in any of my other characters. In her signature red hat and somewhat wild sense of fashion, she exudes confidence in a way only those who have survived the unsurvivable can.
Alex Evans saves Marley Jade in more ways than one… but he is also saved by her. Living a serious life dictated by familial expectations and pressure, Alex doesn’t even realize he needs saved from a life that isn’t his own.
As Marley and Alex’s characters developed, I realized that there was a simple beauty in their love story that wasn’t in any other book I’d written. Out of the wreckage of sadness that swirls in this book came a love story more beautiful, more powerful because it was such a contrast to the heavy moments presented.
All of You isn’t a light read. It deals with hard issues and topics we don’t always like to talk about. However, for me, that’s what makes this a book I’m proud of. It’s real. It’s raw. It’s true to life.
Scroll down to read the blurb for All of You and see if this sounds like your kind of book. Feel free to hit reply and tell me if Marley and Alex’s love story sounds like your kind of read and if you’re ready to add it to your Goodreads TBR list.
All of You Blurb:
There’s no such thing as impossible when it comes to saving the one who holds your heart.
A sexy doctor who’s restricted by expectations.
A quirky poet who’s defined by her dark past.
All it takes is Alex Evans saving Marley Jade one fateful night for their futures to be realigned. And when a passion sparks between them, they must decide if they can piece each other back together and make love work.
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Doerr's Poetic Style Underscores Dignity and Humanity in All the Light We Cannot See
Anthony Doerr's All The Light We Cannot See Offers Deep, Introspective Value
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
"It was enough when Werner was a boy, wasn't it? A world of wildflowers blooming up and carrot peels and Frau Elena's fairy tales. Of the sharp smell of tar, and trains passing, and bees humming in the window boxes. String and spit and wire and a voice on the radio offering a loom on which to spin his dreams."
All the Light We Cannot See is an emotional novel that looks at war, survival, and the interesting ways that fate and choices bring us together. The novel drips with depth and gorgeous imagery.
The story follows Marie-Laure Leblanc, a girl who is blind during WWII, as she struggles with the loss of her father and the dangers of trying to do the right thing. Werner Pfennig, an orphan, is the other major protagonist of the novel. Through a twisting plot line, their stories become clearly connected as they fight for survival and to overcome lives that suddenly don't feel like their own.
Doerr's style is truly poetic. From page one of the novel, it is clear that he isn't just an excellent storyteller but a word master:
"At dusk they pour from the sky. They blow across the ramparts, turn cartwheels over rooftops, flutter into the ravines between houses. Entire streets swirl with them, flashing white against the cobbles. Urgent message to the inhabitants of this town, they say. Depart immediately to open country."
Throughout the entire novel, the reader roots for both characters despite their very different circumstances. The novel reminded me that there truly are no winners or losers in war--just people desperate to survive, to protect their dreams, and to hang on to the ones who matter to them while maintaining a sense of dignity and humanity.
The middle of this book was a bit slow-moving for me. I felt that the pace could have been a bit faster. Nonetheless, Doerr's skill at bringing the entire story together underscored the depth and meaning of this work.
This book reminded me of one of my favorites, The Book Thief, because of its focus and style. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a book with deep meaning and purpose.
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