Allgemein · Book Reviews · Fall · Home · Seasonal Recommendations

Houdini, The Moonlight Carnival and Murders. 🛳️🃏🌙 | a spoiler-free review.

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Firstly, I want to say that I was more than excited to read Escaping from Houdini after having read the first two books in the series earlier this year. This series and especially because of its characters Audrey Rose and Thomas became one of my all time favourites so quickly so, it should not be a big suprise to tell you that the third book was an anticipated release for me and I was waiting and waiting to get my hands on it until I finally got to pick up my paperback edition at the bookstore. Unfortunately, I was not able to get the beautiful tarot cards designed by Phantomrin as a pre-order gift since I am not living in the US but you should definitely take a look at Kerri Maniscalco’s Instagram account if you want to see how they look like! It’s too bad I don’t have them. They would have been nice to display next to my copies.

There’s also a Double Review I have here on my blog for the first two books in the series if you want to check that out and assure yourself that I have been waiting these couple of months for only this sequel to come out : Double Review: SJTR and HPD by Kerri Maniscalco 💉🖤 and definitely read about this hilarious idea Kerri Maniscalco had on Twitter if you missed it!


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The Sypnosis:

After having solved the murder cases of Jack the Ripper and Prince Dracula, forensic student Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation Thomas Cresswell are on their way to America while being on board the RMS Etruria, a passenger ship with a mysterious magical performance show called the Moonlight Carnival. But what seems like a dream-like show at first evolves into a terrible nightmare and it appears as if death has been following the two apprentices because young women begin missing and horrifying murders happen on board. So, it is up to both Audrey Rose and Thomas  to solve the case, find out who the murderer is and stop the slayings before more passengers become victims without having reached their destination. The RMS Etruria becomes a prison with no chance to escape and nowhere to flee…


“So, I inquire you once more. which will you lose before the week is through? Your heart? Your head? Perhaps,” he drawled, face cast in shadows as the chandeliers dimmed slowly before winking out, “you will lose your life, your very soul, to this magical traveling show.”

After having walked through the streets of Victorian London and attending a forensic class in Romania, this time the setting of the book is a passenger ship en route to America. To be more precise the setting includes the first class deck, its promenade, several cabins and of course the main deck with the enchanting carnival show every evening. While I did REALLY enjoy this new setting with the sea always close by and the performance show, it is the foggy streets of London and the paths of the castle in the first two books I prefer reading about. However, deciding which of the three settings I really liked more was difficult to say and I believe that I am not the only one having struggled with the thought.

The performances of the Moonlight Carnival are amazing!! I am sure everyone who likes circus-themed books will enjoy this books same goes to fans of Stephanie Garber’s Caraval series. There are also A LOT OF NEW CHARACTERS introduced. Most of them are members of the carnival, each having their own magical ability. Fire-breather, Fortune-teller, Trapeze artists. Just to name a few talents. I would have liked to get to know them a bit better but since the Moonlight Carnival was such a big troupe with many backstories (most of them tragic and sad) I think that the author already did a very good job. Without going into any spoilers, Houdini is introduced as well as the King of Cuffs and it was really enjoyable to read about this character who is not “just fictional”. Kerri’s author note at the end of the book was really interesting to read as well since it’s giving more information and I caught myself doing some research about Houdini as well.

“Truth is often compared to a blade,” I said. “‘I question those who marvel when it pricks.”

Audrey Rose Wadsworth– Talking about characters, it was such a pleasure to read everything from Audrey Rose’s POV again. I have been liking her since the very first time she is introduced in Stalking Jack the Ripper and I only can repeat myself with saying that she is such a brave, smart and extremely likeable main character. Probably one of my favourite female characters ever. However, there was something about her behaviour in this book that made me question EVERYTHING and I was not that fond of it. She was insecure and had many doubts at times but I think that is totally fine!

“Removing intestines before luncheon is all right, but clowns are where your limits ends?’ he asked. “You never cease to amaze me, Wadsworth. What if I dressed up like one and knocked at your door later? Do you think you’d faint into my ruffle-sleeved arms? Reviving you might be worth the makeup and silly costume.'”

✷ Thomas Cresswell – I think that with every book he does get sassier and sassier but maybe that’s just a feeling. In Escaping from Houdini you really got to see how he went through his character development. He’s definitely not the arrogant student we know from the first book but developed into a kind and understanding partner when it comes to solving crime. Thomas did an excellent job of letting Audrey Rose choose her own path and freedom. It was too bad he didn’t get all the “screen time” but  it was something different to the series and it wasn’t as bad as I got told by various of people on Goodreads.

“I politely disagree, Miss Wadsworth. There are many ways to assist people. Laughter and distraction are sometimes things people need in conjuction with medical diagnoses and treatments.”

Mephistopheles – also called “Mephisto” or “the Devil” is the ringmaster and boss of the performance crew. (It’s obviously not his real name.) He is a new character introduced in this third book of the series and the first things that you’ll notice are that 1) he’s self-regarding, 2) obsessed with the big show and his outfits and 3) incredibly dramatic. And, in my opinion he’s also the reason why Audrey Rose does a lot of things she normally would have never done. It’s the ringmaster who firstly created a love triangle in this series (I think we all agree that Blackburn does not count). I was about to feel really anxious when I found out about the love triangle but I see that it was necessary in a way for both Audrey Rose and Thomas to understand their feelings for each other. And, to be honest, I didn’t mind this love triangle though I am a big Cressworth fan. You won’t get disappointed

Fun fact:  The name “Mephistopheles” fits very well since there are also some midnight bargains going on. It’s well thought-out indeed.

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✧ SJTR, HPD or EFH? Which one was better and why? 

To be honest, SJTR and HPD I prefer but don’t get me wrong! EFH was an equally fast paced and enjoyable read. But there were a few aspects in the first two books in the series that were just better to me. The setting for example. Or how the cases were solved and explained at the end. Likewise, EFH had great elements to it such as the acts, Mrs Harvey correcting Thomas and offering her traveling tonic (I love that chaperone!!) and more of Audrey Rose, her uncle and Thomas inspecting the incidents.

Without any spoilers (!!), please but was it obvious who the murderer/murderess was?

While I think that it was pretty obvious and predictable who the murderers in SJTR and HPD are, I believe that it won’t be that easy for you this time. I had many assumptions and struggled at time so, it was not suprising to me that the reveal of who had done all these murders was a bit of a shock…? Of course this may differ from person to person. Maybe you’re a better detective than I am. Probably.

Rating? Is EFH a new all time favorite?

SJTR and HPD were 5-star reads for me. My rating system only includes those books to “all time favorites” that have a 5-star rating. Considering all this, I am going to put EFH into a 4-star, maybe even a 4.5-star rating (though I usually try to not give 1/2 stars) because I enjoyed the first two books a bit more.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Expectations for the fourth and (unfortunately) final book in the series?

I know that I have just finished reading the third book but I am already looking forward to the release of SJTR4 because I have still so many questions about EFH. There are some things that remained unsolved and I am dying to know what these things are really about. On the other hand from what I have understood, the book coming out next year is the final one for this series?! That makes me extremely sad. Who would have thought this series could come to end?  I could read a ton of books about Audrey Rose and Thomas and I probably still wouldn’t be tired of their wit and sarcasm. And, I am sure I wouldn’t be the only one. There has to be some bonus content/novellas!!!

I have no ideas for the title or the person it could include in it. Equally, I have no assumptions where the story could be set. America? England, again? A new country? France would be funny, I believe! The cover is not out yet as well but I think that Kerri has something good for the ending planned, at least I hope so!

 

“Magic is science. It’s simply a fancier term for showing people the impossible is attainable.”

Allgemein · Book Reviews · Fall

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert 💛

hello fellow readers! Today I am going to present you one of My most anticipated books of 2018!🎆😊 and a book I have been really excited about since I heard about it. I was told that The Hazel Wood is going to be some creepy Alice in Wonderland retelling but I can tell you that a) it is messier, crazier and more confusing than that while b) the main character really is named Alice!! But don’t worry, if you are still all for that you are gonna like this ya fantasy as much as I did. I also read that there is going to be a sequel to this book? I don’t know how to feel about that. I think that it could have made a really good standalone. And, btw Stephanie Garber blurbed this so…here’s the review:


sypnosis:

We follow the story of Alice, a seventeen-year-old, easy to madden girl who has lived her entire life with her mother Ella driving from one highway to another, fleeing from the bad luck they always seem to have. Alice’s grandmother is Althea Proserpine, the author of dark fairy tales who lives on her estate: the Hazel Wood. When Ella gets kidnapped from people who claim to be from the Hinterland, the world of Althea’s fairy tales, Alice is determined to do everything to get her back even if it means going to the Hazel Wood. Along with her classmate Ellery Finch she sets off to find out what happened to her mother and the bad luck of herself.


“And while they’re being told, stories create the energy that makes this world go. They keep our stars in place. They make our grass grow.”

I would like to divide the story into three different parts before saying anything abou the plot because there is part 1.) which is the first third of the book and focuses more or less on the relationship between Alice and her mother, giving a bit of background info etc and ther was part 2.) which was (my favourite) about Alice and Ellery Finch getting into some real crazy but fascinating fairy tale business where creepy things happen and you don’t know if you are living in some kind of fantasy book or not. The last part (part 3.) is the so called ‘creepy Alice in Wonderland retelling’ part but to be honest it was just so confusing and distracting to me. I didn’t really know what happened and ended up thinking a lot about the story development and who the Briar King is because I obviously forget or didn’t get that. 。(*^▽^*)ゞ The first part was good, okay, not that catchy to me but the second part which was all about Ellery and Alice THAT was the part I expected Tumblr_inline_nit2awRqYD1qgl6qfthe whole book to be!! But unfortunately that wasn’t it. I am a bit disappointed now because I really looked forward to it, but well. This part was thrilling and full of nonsense but still so good and entertaining. I loved it and it was exactly what I hoped for. But as I said it wasn’t all as I imagined it to be but let’s summarize that Ellery Finch was an amazing character who should have had more screen time and credit because just look of one of his wisdoms;

“When in doubt, the answer is always Death. With a capital D.”

Coming back to the third ‘Alice in Wonderland’ part I have to say that this disappointed me the most which is of course not the authors fault because I have been tricked by people but if there are not characters that represent the Mad Hatter, the Rabbit and the Cheshire Cat please do not call a book an Alice in Wonderland retelling. Thanks. Talking about characters, I think that these were the elements lacking. I couldn’t click to them. Not to Alice but also not to Ella. Ellery Finch was the only one I really enjoyed reading about and I wished he would have been present for the last third of the book.

The plot twist were kinda predictable but I really liked the idea of them as well as the world building. I would have liked more explanations though and I am still not getting a lot of things and I have question but maybe next time?

However, I loved the fairy tales!! They were dark, creepy and gave me chills because they weren’t about justice and things. No, they were all about revenge, anger and jealousy. I wish there would have been a collection of the fairy tales at the back of the tumblr_oaeqcxw1tJ1r6wsp9o1_500book or something because I remember them being 13 in total but only 2 or 3 were fully told in the book. I want more from those! And the mystery of Althea was great too! I enjoyed not knowing anything about her at the beginning and at the end because although I finished this book I feel like there wasn’t much written in there about Alice’s legendary grandmother. I adored the atmosphere in this one. It’s the one I look for in books and luckily find from time to time. It’s comparable to the one’s in Everless and Caraval. (*’∀’人)♥

The writing style was very likeable and there were so many beautiful passages/quotes I liked but here are only a few of them. Have we already talked about the stunning cover?? It’s probably one of the most beautiful ones I’ve ever seen (I know I say that a lot but it’s true).  ⭐⭐⭐⭐ // 4 fairy tale-like stars

 

“Life was a big thing to live without a map.”

Book Reviews · Fall · Seasonal Recommendations

Why the phrase ‘time is money’ is 100% true in the world of Everless ⏳

We all know that time is precious (especially when you’re a reader) but have you ever imagined a world where you really have to pay with the time of your lifespan? Reducing or Increasing your lifetime immensely? Without any mercy? Well, I haven’t neither but that’s exactly what happens in the world of Everless, Sara Holland’s fantasy debut novel which came out on January 2nd and one of My most anticipated books of 2018!🎆😊

I was so excited to start this ya fantasy since I have read many great things about it from other readers, including Wing-yee whom I highly trust(!). And, Stephanie Garber blurbed it and I couldn’t resist! sorrynotsorry

So, in this blog post I will try to convince you to add this gorgeous book on your wishlist within 6 reasons. But before that, here’s what Everless is about;


the sypnosis:

In the kingdom of Sempera time is currency, meaning that whenever you have to pay for something time is drained out of your blood and bound to iron. The powerful family of the Gerlings are very powerful and take the time of the poor. Jules Ember, a 17-year old servant girl, had to flee from Everless with her father a long time ago and swore herself to never come back. But when she discovers that her father is dying Jules has no other choice than to leave the town and go back to her childhood place to work and earn some money.

Jules quickly realizes that Everless is not the place of her childhood anymore and that dark secrets, danger and lies are the order of the day. What she didn’t know was the role she is about to play…


“I know better than to be afraid of stories.”

  • tired of all those usual female ya main characters? let me introduce you to miss jules ember!

Jules Ember is the teenage main character we follow around and everything is told from her POV. She is very different from many female ya characters and that is what I absolutely loved about this book! Jules is smart, brave and calm at the same time. Instead of rushing and deciding to do silly things, she considers her opportunities and thinks it out carefully. A likeable main character is really important to me and I am sure that Jules won’t disappoint you as well!

  • it’s beautifully written!

Sara Holland has a really elegant and kind of observing writing style. This book had so many good passages and is not does not spend time with describing places to much so you can imagine the rest yourself and be creative. It would have been even better with a few more dialogues between the characters as that is what I missed a bit. 🌇💛

  • the unique concept

I have never seen anything with this concept before and I was intrigued by it before I even opened the book. Besides, I really liked the world building and setting of it. The idea of using your lifetime with paying is amazing and though I was confused at time (especially in the beginning) it is explained step by step within the story and through different persons. I just want more!

  • you’re an expert at predicting plot twists and turns? it won’t be that easy this time!

This story had so many twists and turns I didn’t predict and would have never thought possible, so I was completely shocked sometimes and closed the book just to take a moment and recover myself from it because Sara Holland knows how to do it. And they won’t be revealed until the end. You will have to be patient and read fast if you want to reveal all those secrets and lies of Everless!

  • the Gerling brothers!!

“Cruel. Elegant. Just like the Gerlings.”

tumblr_n6mhbmcPBk1tptr8ro1_500Want to know more about the characters? Well, while we have some other side characters in this book, the Gerling family is the richest and well-known for living at Everless, including the two brothers Roan and Liam. Suprisingly, the brothers are very different from each other; while Roan is an actuall cinnamon roll, always smiling and happy, Liam is the more reserved one, spending a lot of time in the library. It’s all up to you to pick your favourite! (Mine is Liam though I had struggles with deciding at first but-). I was a bit looking for more romance but it didn’t really hit my expectations. Maybe Evermore will…?

  • magical atmosphere guaranteed

I adored the mysterious, dark and magical atmosphere of Everless and it reminded me of the one of Stephanie Garber’s Caraval and A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge 🐻. If you are fan of those books I can highly recommend reading Everless. You can describe Everless as A Skinful of Shadows with the time concept instead of the ghosts one and an older main character. You may also enjoy it if you are a fan of Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard.


Could I convince you to read Everless or have you already read it? What are your thoughts?


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Allgemein · Book Reviews · Fall · Home · Seasonal Recommendations

Double Review: SJTR and HPD by Kerri Maniscalco 💉🖤

hey everyone and happy new year! 🎆 I hope you had a good start into 2018 setting your reading resolutions for this year and deciding on what to read. I have already set my own Reading Challenge on GoodReads by reading 33 books which I think is realistic and manageable. If you want to know how My Reading Year of 2017 you can read my reflection here or take a look at all the books I have read on my ‘2017-reads’ shelf.

Today I’ll be reviewing the last book that I read in 2017 and the first one I read in 2018; Stalking Jack the Ripper (#SJTR1) and Hunting Prince Dracula (#SJTR2) by Kerri Maniscalco. (´•.̫ • ⋈) These books have been on my list of the most-anticipated books of 2017 and did not disappoint me: They made into favourite books of all time! Continue reading and find out why…


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Sypnosis:

This series follows the story of Audrey Rose Wadsworth, a young woman who lives in London and is keen to know everything about forensics. Unfortunately, Audrey Rose has to keep her interest in secret. She sneaks out at night to learn something at her Uncle’s laboratory so she can prevent her wealthy father from knowing about it. The story continues with the murders of Jack the Ripper and our protagonist is determined to solve the intriguing but horrible case along with her companian Thomas Cresswell.

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Hunting Prince Dracula continues right after the events of the first one. This time we get to travel with Audrey Rose and Thomas to Romania and the killer is none other than Vlad the Impaler whose thirst for blood became legend. Audrey Rose has to pull herself together in order to not get distracted by her terrible memories and experiences of the Ripper murders. Will she be able solve this cunning riddle?


“Roses have both petals and thorns, my dark flower. You needn’t believe something weak because it appears delicate.

Show the world your bravery.”

These books were even better than I expected them to be. I was sure that I am going to adore them but still I didn’t see that coming! I was truly sad when I finished them so quick but luckily, Kerri Maniscalco announced that there are at least going to be 4 books in the series. One of the two upcoming books will be published this year.

Because there is not anything left to say about the plot I am starting right away with other categories:

The settings are perfect in both books. In the first you get to visit London in the 1880s, a time where England developed really fast and effective. Stalking Jack the Ripper gives you an insight into that time and society. Next to that we have the kingdom of Romania as the main setting in book 2. I really like the describtions of the castle and the surrounding area. But maybe that’s because I just love old buildings in general.

You get a really dark and spooky vibe from both of the book so I highly recommend reading them in colder months. These are definitely great for fall!

The characters are exactly those you want to have in the story of such a series. I am going to decribe the two main characters more detailed. Let me introduce them to you: (⌒▽⌒ゞ

Miss Audrey Rose Wadsworth // 17 year old forensic student from London. Dark hair. Emerald-coloured eyes. Often wears gloves. Eloquent, smart, independent and very modern. The perfect exemplar of female ya characters I want to read about. Highborn but NOT vain. #1 Feminist. Can we be best friends please? material. Has a weekness for beautiful dresses (who doesn’t?). Favourite Flower: Orchids. As curious as Alice. Develops feelings for Thomas but doesn’t want to make it THAT clear. The victim of his never-ending teasings. Doesn’t mind. Destroyer of their best moments.

Mister Thomas Cresswell// forensic student and #1 expert of how to tease and flirt with Audrey. Can be vain but you won’t mind. Know-all. Sherlock Holmes version 2.0. Highborn as well. Draws very well. Tall (yes, that’s a relevant point). Handsome (as he says so). Observer. Perfect guy for our female protagonist. Number 1 supporter. Cracks a lot of jokes that aren’t unconditionally funny but you’ll smile anyway.

To keep it short: I love both Audrey and Thomas and I can’t wait to read more about them. They both are very realistic characters, able to be brave and scared. They make such an adorable couple and they surely belong to my favourite characters of all time as well as to my otp’s. I’ll read everything that is about them. And if you’d ask me if I could choose a favourite between them I would say no because they are both unique and wonderful characters. However, I can’t deny that Thomas is already on my book boyfriend list. Shhh. Don’t tell the fangirls anything.

“Diamonds were everything I hoped to be; beautiful, yet containing unimaginable strength.”

The writing style. I am absolutely in love with Kerri Maniscalco’s writing style. It makes you read the book even faster and you can’t stop (but that’s maybe because the ends of the chapters are always very thrilling and you get into that ‘one more chapter’ situation). I enjoyed reading conversations between the characters and I loved the way they spoke as we are talking about an other time era where the language used to be a bit different but totally amusing and entertaining!

“Fear is a hungry beast. The more you feed it, the more it grows.”

This series is what I was looking for all the time but which I could never find. It is interesting, funny, thrilling and fast-paced. It includes exactly the genres I enjoy reading the most which are Ya, Historical Fiction, Mystery and Romance. I want more books like Kerri Maniscalco’s. That being said, I can’t wait to get my shaky hands on the third book of the Series (Escaping from Houdini). How am I supposed to wait until Fall to know how this story is going to continue? I am happy to say that I have finally found a new all time favourite series! 5/5 STARS and a more than satisfied reader. 🤹‍♀️🔮🖤🎩🛳️

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Allgemein · Book Reviews · Fall · Home

A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge 🐻

35659955A Skinful of Shadows is a young-adult, fantasy novel I found out about right after its release in September. Before reading I didn’t know that this standalone is also a historical fiction book but yes, it is set in the 17th century in England, during the Civil War of 1642-1649. I am a big fan of historical fiction books, especially in this combination of ya and fantasy, so I was very excited to read this one. I have never read anything by Frances Hardinge before but I had heard many great things about the author’s other books like ‘The Lie Tree’ or the ‘Cuckoo Song’.

Sypnosis:

We follow the story of a 12-year old girl named Makepeace who is able to ‘see’ ghosts in her nightmares. The ghosts in this book intend to possess her body which Makepeace tries to defend desperately and exactly this is what happens; There is a spirit living inside of her. After an incident she has to move to the property of her deceased father’s  family. As the story continues the girl finds out that her father’s family keeps a secret almost nobody knows about and a secret nobody should know, influencing the events in London. Our main character plans her escape and has to decide something that will change her life completely.


“Before her escort could react, she sprinted from their little pool of lantern-light into the darkness, her feet pounding the soft, treacherous clods of the field. The guards called after her for a while, but did not pursue. In a lost city, how could they chase down every lost soul who became a little more lost?”

I want to start this review with praising Frances Hardinge’s writing style. The author has an amazing way of describing places, people and emotions. I can barely remember any other book I have read that had such a magical, lulling and mysterious style of writing. In contrast to Frances Hardinge’s beautiful way of writing the story of this book can be creepy, dark and incomprehensible but that’s exactly what you should feel while reading this book. I have annotated a lot of quotes in this book because I think of them as being very meaningful and important for the story and character development.

Speaking about that, I really liked the characters in this book. Makepeace, our 12-year old female main character has a really strong personality and although all the things that happen in this book should frighten her it does not. Well, maybe it does, but she is at least brave enough to deal with it and that at a young age. She is caring, helpful and kind which is a very big contrast to the fact that she lives in a time where brutal things happen and people are only caring for their own. Characters I was also excited to know more about where James, Sir Thomas and the Doctor. But as any good story we also have a fantastic villain in this book; but it is better if you go into the story without knowing anything about The Fellmottes.

“Lord Fellmotte was not a man. He was an ancient committee.  A parliament of deathly rooks in a dying tree.”

‘The gift’ plays a big role in the story line. It  is basically the ability to be possessed by a spirit. Makepeace has that ability or ‘curse’, how others call it and we follow her as she learns to deal with it, how she defends herself against lonely spirits and how she manages to reveal the dark family secret of the Fellmotte’s.

“It was as if History were walking at his heels like a vast, invisible hound.  It followed him, but he did not command it. Perhaps he would tame it. Or perhaps it would eat him.”

The world of this story was great and if you are a history-fan you are going to love this setting of 17th century London, Oxford and actually whole England. I learned a lot of things about the Civil War and the story made me even look things up!

Aside of all these amazing elements from this book, there was one thing I did disliked. This book was too long. A lot of things happened during these 415 pages and I am sure that the story could have been a bit less long. What kept me reading was this amazing writing style and the fact that I really wanted to know how this will end. Makepeace traveled a lot and was able to achieve those impossible things.

This book is about loyalty and friendship and the bond between siblings. It is about accepting the past but moving forward with new hopes and dreams.

To sum up, I really enjoyed ‘A Skinful of Shadows’ and Frances Hardinge’s writing. I will probably read more of her books soon. This book is a perfect fall read but I believe that it is not a book everybody would feel comfortable with, as it can be really dark and emotional. But if you do like this setting then don’t hesitate to read it! It is such a pity that this is such an underrated book, meaning that more people should read it. 4 sparkling stars/5 🍂🌿


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