[Publisher Blog Tour] Review – He Started It by Samantha Downing

The premise of Samantha Downing’s first novel, My Lovely Wife, about a husband and wife who kill together, was such an amazing concept that I knew I wanted to put it on my tbr right away. It had all the pings for a book I wanted: morally bwuh characters, will they or won’t they get caught, and against the grain “who are we rooting for” plot.

When I was offered a spot on the He Started It blog tour by the publisher, I was very interested because Samantha Downing’s second thriller sounds, if anything, even more curious and engaging that the first. There’s a large inheritance that can only be secured under odd circumstances, estranged siblings, mysterious events of the past that only become more mysterious as we get crumbs revealed along the way.

I gobbled this book up within 36 hours. I can’t wait to see what y’all will think because I could not stop shouting about it at the close. 😂

 

about the book - Copy

 

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Amazon | Audible | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Goodreads | Indiebound | Libro.fm

Published: 21 July 2020

Publisher: Berkley

Age Group: Adult

Genre(s): Thriller/Mystery

Beth, Portia, and Eddie Morgan haven’t all been together in years. And for very good reasons—we’ll get to those later. But when their wealthy grandfather dies and leaves a cryptic final message in his wake, the siblings and their respective partners must come together for a cross-country road trip to fulfill his final wish and—more importantly—secure their inheritance.

But time with your family can be tough. It is for everyone.

It’s even harder when you’re all keeping secrets and trying to forget a memory—a missing person, an act of revenge, the man in the black truck who won’t stop following your car—and especially when at least one of you is a killer and there’s a body in the trunk. Just to name a few reasons.

But money is a powerful motivator. It is for everyone.

 

 

content warnings - Copy

 

Physical violence/threat thereof, spousal abuse, gaslighting, blood, drugging

 

 

likes

 

 

The setup of the novel is that the siblings (Eddie, Beth, and Portia) have to complete a road trip they once took with their grandfather in order to receive a significant inheritance (starts out at about $3m, turns out about $8m if I remember correctly). The stakes: HIGH. That alone, combined with the tension, lays out a gorgeous map of excitement. How will they ever get to the end, given that they, for all that we can tell, do not like each other? Trapped in a SUV for a cross country trip, even with millions up for grabs, is a lot.

 

The reality of the road trip was really neat. While, with the exception of national chains, the motels & restaurants were fictional, all of the attractions, tourist sites, and museums were real. That added another layer of interest to the plot, knowing that a) these characters were treading in places that, should the mood take you, you too could visit, and b) that these wild places were REAL. Given the reactions we are given by the characters, it seems almost impossible, but whoa!

 

Narrated by Beth, early on we are told certain things, primarily among them that she is not the heroine for very specific reasons. However, because she is the voice that the reader is receiving the story and their information from, it becomes almost a game to discover what can be trusted, either from her own perspective or our own. Going back and forth from the current, inheritance gathering road trip to the previous one that the siblings and their grandfather took, the reader can tell that there are hidden things. What are they? Are they true? Who is telling and who is keeping them?

 

Those secrets were one of my favorite thing because I didn’t see them coming, even knowing that they existed. Reveals along the way just kept coming, right up until the END. Pages from the end and still they kept coming, right when you thought things were wrapped up!

 

 

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There is one character that I thought could have used a little more development. When thinking about them compared to the other characters, they came across a little lacking for me. [I’m not revealing their name just in case it could be a spoiler.]

 

 

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He Started It is a fantastic way to spend a day trying to answer the best question of a thriller: what happens next?

 

 

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Every time Felix mentions mayo, I think of that stripper. This is why I can’t be the heroine. A cheating wife is one of the deal breakers.

 

I also can’t afford to have another memory blackout . Once in my life was enough. Bad things always happen during blackouts.

 

“Best sleep I’ve had on this trip.” He says this like I asked him about it. “I love sleeping outdoors.” I don’t answer that. Even I have limits about lying.

 

Here we are, at the end, and we still don’t know who the heroine is. You’ll have to figure that one out for yourself.

 

 

about the author - Copy

 

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Samantha Downing currently lives in New Orleans, where she is furiously typing away at her next thrilling novel.

 

Facebook | Instagram | Website

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a honest review. Quotes included are from an advanced reader copy and may not reflect the finalized copy.

All media belongs to the respective owners and is used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Black Lives Matter

What voice I have here on The Hermit Librarian reaches out to stand with the Black community.

Black Lives Matter!

Not saying anything only perpetuates the ongoing wrongness and that can’t continue. In the future, we’ve got to endeavor to do better uplifting Black voices in the community. I will be doing so, as well as educating myself and those around me on how to be anti-racist, contributing to related causes & bail funds, and sharing news to make sure people are held accountable.

So far I have donated to the following causes and intend to do more:

In Memory of Tony Mcdade (a Black trans man who was shot and killed by a Tallahassee Police Department (TPD) officer) – funds to be donated to Tony’s family.

The Liberty Fund (NYC’s first city wide charitable bail fund)

Below is a graphic showing a number of ways that you can help, whether monetarily or otherwise. Petitions, texting, callings: so many ways to say Black Lives Matter.

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Click on the picture above for ways you can help.

If you’re looking for books to read, Bookshop has a list that may be of interest: This List is Anti-Racist.

Afoma Umesi has a list of 45 Best Black Young Adult (YA) Novels to Add to Your TBR in 2020.

Below is a graphic of Black owned bookstores that you can order any of the above books from to support Black owned businesses now and in the future. Thank you to Duende District and Lupita Reads for their work/collaboration to create it.

This is nowhere the end of things or the limit of resources out there. Continue to look for yourself, educate yourself, and stand up.

[Top Tuesday] Books I Wish I Had Read As a Child

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is being scaled back a bit to a Top FIVE Tuesday due to things, so thank you for bearing with me and still stopping by. 🙂

The topic of the week is Books I Wish I’d Read As a Child. As long ago as that was 😂 (not really, but it feels like it), I can’t quite remember everything I read, but there are some recent favorites that I know would have made a world of difference to young Me.

TTT

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. Upcoming & past topics can be found here.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

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The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan came out when I was twenty. I would have been so excited to have a series like this when I was a kid because I was hugely into Greek mythology at Percy’s age when the only book I really knew about was Edith Hamilton’s Mythology. A perfectly adequate book, but it was more educational, textbook-y, nothing like the adventures that Percy & co. encounter.

Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can’t seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse – Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy’s mom finds out, she knows it’s time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he’ll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends—one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena – Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.

I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver

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This would have been later childhood, but I really wish I’d had a book like this when I was a teen. There’s a lot of rough times for Ben in this book, but they end up experiencing some things that I would have found both familiar and, perhaps, hopeful. Growing up I didn’t know a lot of things because my environment was very anti-questioning and forced me to remain closeted and even deny thinking about who I was. Finding pieces of myself in I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver is something I wish I’d had the chance to do back then.

When Ben De Backer comes out to their parents as nonbinary, they’re thrown out of their house and forced to move in with their estranged older sister, Hannah, and her husband, Thomas, whom Ben has never even met. Struggling with an anxiety disorder compounded by their parents’ rejection, they come out only to Hannah, Thomas, and their therapist and try to keep a low profile in a new school.

But Ben’s attempts to survive the last half of senior year unnoticed are thwarted when Nathan Allan, a funny and charismatic student, decides to take Ben under his wing. As Ben and Nathan’s friendship grows, their feelings for each other begin to change, and what started as a disastrous turn of events looks like it might just be a chance to start a happier new life.

At turns heartbreaking and joyous, I Wish You All the Best is both a celebration of life, friendship, and love, and a shining example of hope in the face of adversity.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

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I was very lost for a long time and had dark periods, especially in middle school. Portal fantasies, or books like Every Heart a Doorway where we find out what happens to children that return from other worlds to this one, were the sort of story that I would have inhaled.

Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Quests

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost.

Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

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In the vein of my reasoning for I Wish You All the Best, Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann would have enabled me to see representation that was sorely missing in books when I was growing up (so far as I knew from the books that I had access to at the time).

Alice had her whole summer planned. Non-stop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting–working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she’s asexual). Alice is done with dating–no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.

But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).

When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn, and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated—or understood.

The Gilded Wolves by Roshni Chokshi

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Growing up with beautiful characters and settings and a story like this? 😭 Roshni Chokshi has many books under her belt at this point and I’ve sampled many of them, but I think that The Gilded Wolves would have interested a younger Me the most because it had interesting concepts: the searching for lost artifacts, the found family, and so forth. Those elements would have comforted me through a lot of times and as much as they mean now, even more so then.

It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.

Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history–but only if they can stay alive.

What are some novels that you would have loved to have read as a kid? Are there some that you can remember loving when you were younger? Let me know in the comments below!

All media belongs to the respective owners and is used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

[Tag] The Animal Crossing Book Tag

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After a morning playing the Stalk Market, what better way to take a break than an Animal Crossing book tag? 😅 I played a lot of Animal Crossing on the DS, not so much the GameCube. The bug has bitten me with New Horizons, though, and I am loving it. 😁

I wasn’t tagged, but I saw Pauliina @ Bookaholic Dreamer do this tag today and thought I’d do it as well.

 

The Rules

 

  • Please link back to the original creator of the tag, Bookish Things and Tea.
  • Answer the following Animal Crossing themed book questions.
  • Feel free to use graphics, but be sure to credit Bookish Things and Tea.
  • Tag some friends to spread the love!

 
I’m using the graphics created by McKenzie @ The Bookish Things and Tea. Full credit to her for these terrific images.

 

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I haven’t read as many classics as I’d like, so among those on my list I chose The Color Purple by Alice Walker for this answer. A multiple award winner, adapted to the silver screen, it’s a modern classic I’m looking forward to engaging with in multiple formats.

A powerful cultural touchstone of modern American literature, The Color Purple depicts the lives of African American women in early twentieth-century rural Georgia. Separated as girls, sisters Celie and Nettie sustain their loyalty to and hope in each other across time, distance and silence. Through a series of letters spanning twenty years, first from Celie to God, then the sisters to each other despite the unknown, the novel draws readers into its rich and memorable portrayals of Celie, Nettie, Shug Avery and Sofia and their experience. The Color Purple broke the silence around domestic and sexual abuse, narrating the lives of women through their pain and struggle, companionship and growth, resilience and bravery. Deeply compassionate and beautifully imagined, Alice Walker’s epic carries readers on a spirit-affirming journey towards redemption and love.

 

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143761When picking this answer, I didn’t realize how few second books I’d read. I could have sworn there would be a lot more to pick, but I apparently need to actually get to those second books. 😂 Anyway, my answer is A Good Yarn by Debbie Macomber. It still has one of the main characters from the first novel and we see other recurring characters, but the new main characters are more refreshing and allow the story to move at a better pace.

You might have heard about a wonderful little yarn shop in downtown Seattle. Debbie Macomber can take you there!

In the year since it opened, ‘A Good Yarn’ has thrived and so has Lydia Hoffman, the owner. A lot of that is due to Brad Goetz. But when Brad’s ex-wife reappears, Lydia is suddenly afraid to trust her newfound happiness.

Elise Beaumont joins one of Lydia’s popular knitting classes. Living with her daughter, Aurora, Elise learns that her onetime husband plans to visit and that Aurora wants a relationship with her father, regardless of how Elise feels about him.

Bethanne Hamlin is facing the fallout from a divorce and joins the knitting class as the first step in her effort to recover a sense of dignity and hope.

Courtney Pulanski is a depressed and overweight teenager. She’s staying with her grandmother, who’s trying to help by taking her to the knitting class at ‘A Good Yarn.’

Four women, brought together by the craft of knitting, find companionship and comfort in each other. Who would’ve thought that knitting socks could change your life?

 

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38739562With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo takes place in Philadelphia, the largest city in Pennsylvania and the sixth largest in the U.S. (something I didn’t realize until this post). It was one of my favorite books last year; I read it twice in different formats and recommend it every chance I get. Acevedo’s writing is exquisite and experiencing her books is even better in audio when she reads them herself.

With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.

 

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Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin came out in February. A retelling of Macbeth, it is one of the best, one of the most intense books I’ve read in recent memory. Jade, the main character, experiences a trauma and goes about getting revenge on those that have wronged her. Witnessing the path of destruction that she carves through the book is a sight to behold & experience.

Elle and her friends Jenny, Mads, and Summer rule their glittering LA circle. Untouchable, they have the kind of power other girls only dream of. Every party is theirs and the world is at their feet. Until the night of Elle’s sweet sixteen, when they crash a St. Andrew’s Prep party. The night the golden boys choose Elle as their next target.

They picked the wrong girl.

Sworn to vengeance, Elle transfers to St. Andrew’s Prep. She plots to destroy each boy, one by one. She’ll take their power, their lives, and their control of the prep school’s hierarchy. And she and her coven have the perfect way in: a boy named Mack, whose ambition could turn deadly.

Foul is Fair is a bloody, thrilling revenge fantasy for the girls who have had enough. Golden boys beware: something wicked this way comes.

 

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When I first read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, I didn’t actually like it all that much because it was a summer reading assignment and I had to read it. There were other books I wanted to read at the time, so of course I had some bad feelings about it. When I came back to it, though, years later I found a favorite. I’ve seen read it several times, occasionally multiple times a year. Whether text or listening to the audiobook (Kate Burton is an amazing narrator), it’s an easy book to sink into no matter the outside circumstances.

The beloved American classic about a young girl’s coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the daily experiences of the unforgettable Nolans are raw with honesty and tenderly threaded with family connectedness — in a work of literary art that brilliantly captures a unique time and place as well as incredibly rich moments of universal experience.

 

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The cast of Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant is very rich. Whether we’re connecting with Tory, whose sister was on the original Atargatis mission that mysteriously vanished near the Mariana Trench; Olivia, a reporter on the new ship out to find what happened to it; or one of the rest of the myriad crew, learning about the why they’re on the ship is about as interesting as worrying about their journey and their fate as they travel further out to sea. 👀

This book also has autism rep (Olivia, a main character, is autistic, so if you’re looking for a read for Autism Acceptance Month this is a great choice).

Seven years ago, the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary” bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy.

Now, a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost.

Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves. But the secrets of the deep come with a price.

 

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There are a lot more books that would fall under this than I thought. One stars, DNFs, that sort of thing. 😅 The first answer that came to mind, though, is any book by M*ck*ie L**. She is so problematic and I am very, very done.

 

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The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is a character driven historical fantasy that revolves around a challenge between two young magicians. Their skills pitted against one another within the Cirque des Reves, many lives are touched by the contest: some for the better, some for the worse. 😥

I’m reading it again this year so I can annotate a copy for a friend and I’m looking forward to returning to all the places the circus travels in the early 19th & 20th century.

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

 

 

I’m not really sure who of my followers play Animal Crossing, but if you do please play along with the tag and let me know! TAG!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All media belongs to the respective owners and is used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

[Waiting on Wednesday] Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire

Waiting on Wednesday

 

 

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event created by Breaking the Spine in which an anticipated title is highlighted. You can find their website here.

 

How could I not be excited by the announcement of Seanan McGuire’s next Wayward Children series? It is something I look forward to every year, the reveal of the next book: title, synopsis, cover. While we only have two of the three at the moment, I’m still quite giddy. 🤗

The link to Tor’s article is here.

As it is the sixth book, it’s time for another prequel/origin story if the previous books’ pattern holds. Regan is unfamiliar to me, so that makes me very interested in how this book will go. All previous entries have had someone we’ve at least met or heard of, so a completely unknown entity is intriguing.

It’s going to be a long wait, but we can go this together, my fellow Wayward fans! 😭🥰

 

 

about the book - Copy

 

 

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Goodreads | Tor.com

Published: January 2021

Publisher: Tor

Age Group: Adult

Genre(s): Fantasy

In book six of McGuire’s multi-award-winning portal fantasy series we meet Regan. She loves horses. And when she suddenly finds herself thrust through a doorway that asks her to “Be Sure” before swallowing her whole, Regan must learn to live in a world filled with centaurs, kelpies, and other magical equines—a world that expects its human visitors to step up and be heroes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All media belongs to the respective owners and is used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

 

[Top Ten Tuesday] Authors Who Have a Fun Social Media Presence

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Social media can be a fun and mildly terrifying way to interact with the world at large. Through it, we as readers can connect with our favorite authors. The authors on my list today are authors that I find both fun, informative, and just overall enjoyable to come across when I’ve engaged with their prescences on Twitter (my primary social media).

 

TTT

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. Upcoming & past topics can be found here.

 

1. Seanan McGuire (@seananmcguire)

2. Victoria/V.E. Schwab (@veschwab)

3. Danika Stone (@danika_stone)

4. Elle Maruska (@ellle_em)

5. Paul Kreuger (@NotLikeFreddy)

6. Tara Sim (@EachStarAWorld)

7. Angie Thomas (@angiecthomas)

8. N.K. Jemisin (@nkjemisin)

9. Tiffany D. Jackson (@WriteinBK)

10. Claribel Ortega (@Claribel_Ortega)

Are any of these authors on your Top Ten list? What are your favorite books of theirs that you think I should have read (if I haven’t already)? Let me know in the comments below. 🤗

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All media belongs to the respective owners and is used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

[Readathon] Animal Crossing Readathon Signup Post

Who doesn’t love a nice, relaxing game where you catch bugs to pay off the bank loan you have for a $400 house and stuff it full of a myriad of furniture & wild knick knacks? 😂 All while accomplishing tasks for your neighbors, visiting the beach, and whatever else you might desire in your New Town.

With Animal Crossing: New Horizons releasing in about two weeks, fellow Animal Crossing fans and I are celebrating by, what else, a readathon with cool AC themed challenges. 😊

 

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Thank you to the hosts @ambooklife, @medusareads, and @paperbackjedi for creating such a fun readathon. This is one of my favorite games and I’d forgotten how much I was looking forward to it until this readathon reminded me. 🥰  Now, onto the tbr and countdown until game day!

 

Resetti: read a book of your choice while using a bookmark

 

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Amazon | Audible | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Goodreads | Indiebound | Libro.fm

Published: 4 June 2019

Publisher: Tor Books

Genre(s): Fantasy/Mystery

Sharp, mainstream fantasy meets compelling thrills of investigative noir in this fantasy debut by rising star Sarah Gailey.

Ivy Gamble has never wanted to be magic. She is perfectly happy with her life—she has an almost-sustainable career as a private investigator, and an empty apartment, and a slight drinking problem. It’s a great life and she doesn’t wish she was like her estranged sister, the magically gifted professor Tabitha.

But when Ivy is hired to investigate the gruesome murder of a faculty member at Tabitha’s private academy, the stalwart detective starts to lose herself in the case, the life she could have had, and the answer to the mystery that seems just out of her reach.

 

 

K.K. Slider: listen to an audiobook or a book with musical elements

 

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Amazon | Audible | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Goodreads | Indiebound | Libro.fm

Published: 24 March 2020

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Genre(s): Nonfiction/Memoir/LGBTQ+

From standup comic Cameron Esposito, a memoir that tackles sexuality, gender and equality–and how her Catholic upbringing prepared her for a career as an outspoken lesbian comedian in ways the Pope never could have imagined.
Cameron Esposito wanted to be a priest and ended up a standup comic. She would like to tell the whole, freaking queer as hell story. Her story. Not the sidebar to a straight person’s rebirth-she doesn’t give a makeover or plan a wedding or get a couple back together. This isn’t a queer tragedy. She doesn’t die at the end of this book, having finally decided to kiss the girl. It’s the sexy, honest, bumpy and triumphant dyke’s tale her younger, theology major self needed to read. Because there was a long time when she thought she wouldn’t make it. Not as a comic, but as a human.

SAVE YOURSELF is full of funny and insightful recollections about everything from coming out (at a Catholic college where being gay can get you expelled) to how joining the circus can help you become a better comic (so much nudity) to accepting yourself for who you are–even if you’re an awkward tween with an eyepatch (which Cameron was). Packed with heart, humor, and cringe-worthy stories anyone who has gone through puberty can relate to, Cameron’s memoir is for that timid, fenced-in kid in all of us–and the fearless standup yearning to break free.

 

 

Able Sisters: Read a book with strong family themes

 

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Amazon | Audible | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Goodreads | Indiebound | Libro.fm

Published: 5 November 2019

Publisher: Avon

Genre(s): Romance/Contemporary

Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost—but not quite—dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”, and she’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamorous family’s mansion. The next items?

• Enjoy a drunken night out.
• Ride a motorcycle.
• Go camping.
• Have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex.
• Travel the world with nothing but hand luggage.
• And… do something bad.

But it’s not easy being bad, even when you’ve written step-by-step guidelines on how to do it correctly. What Chloe needs is a teacher, and she knows just the man for the job.

Redford ‘Red’ Morgan is a handyman with tattoos, a motorcycle, and more sex appeal than ten-thousand Hollywood heartthrobs. He’s also an artist who paints at night and hides his work in the light of day, which Chloe knows because she spies on him occasionally. Just the teeniest, tiniest bit.

But when she enlists Red in her mission to rebel, she learns things about him that no spy session could teach her. Like why he clearly resents Chloe’s wealthy background. And why he never shows his art to anyone. And what really lies beneath his rough exterior…

 

 

Tom Nook: Read a book you have recently purchased or checked out from the library.

 

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Published: 24 February 2020

Publisher: Independently Published

Genre(s): Romance

Since college, bookish and quiet Alyse Fox has longed for more. Stuck at the crossroads of change she finally sees her chance for an escape. She just wasn’t expecting her one night stand to be an executive at her new job.

Co-founder of a publishing house, Sawyer has it all, a great apartment, loving family, and a job he spends a little too much time at. He just doesn’t know he’s missing something until Alyse walked back into his life.

A chance encounter at a party, turned one night stand is all either of them thought their story would be. Fate had another plan. Together, they must figure out if their relationship is worth risking all they’ve worked for.

When Can I See You Again is a fun second chance, romantic comedy with a sexy CEO type who loves his family, a girl trying to change her luck, a whole lot of misunderstandings, and both going after what they want, set against the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. It stands alone with no cheating or cliffhangers at about 55,000 words.

 

 

Animal Crossing Gamecube: Read a book that has been on your TBR the longest or re-read an old favorite.

 

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Published: 4 October 2016

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Genre(s): Fantasy/Historical Fiction

Witch’s apprentice Bridey Corkill has hated the ocean ever since she watched her granddad dive in and drown with a smile on his face. So when a dead girl rolls in with the tide in the summer of 1913, sixteen-year-old Bridey suspects that whatever compelled her granddad to leap into the sea has made its return to the Isle of Man.

Soon, villagers are vanishing in the night, but no one shares Bridey’s suspicions about the sea. No one but the island’s witch, who isn’t as frightening as she first appears, and the handsome dark-haired lad Bridey rescues from a grim and watery fate. The cause of the deep gashes in Fynn’s stomach and his lost memories are, like the recent disappearances, a mystery well-guarded by the sea. In exchange for saving his life, Fynn teaches Bridey to master her fear of the water — stealing her heart in the process.

Now, Bridey must work with the Isle’s eccentric witch and the boy she isn’t sure she can trust — because if she can’t uncover the truth about the ancient evil in the water, everyone she loves will walk into the sea, never to return.

 

 

 

BONUS: Isabelle: Read one of the hosts’ choices

(I picked Diana @paperbackjedi’s selection)

 

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Published: 7 February 2019 (UK)

Publisher: Simon Schuster Children’s UK

Genre(s): Fantasy

Three sisters trapped by an ancient curse.

Three magical objects with the power to change their fate.

Will they be enough to break the curse?

Or will they lead the sisters even deeper into danger? …

The enchanting new story from Michelle Harrison, author of the bestselling Thirteen Treasures Trilogy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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[Top Ten Tuesday] Books With One Word Titles

As a fan of fantasy and sci-fi novels, I’m used to some fairly long titles, especially if they’re part of a series because then that becomes part of the mouthful. 😂 This week’s TTT topic is interesting because it poses the question, what about one word title books? I had to have a good think after the first couple that sprang to mind, which was fun because the digging led me down some rabbit warrens of adding books to my tbr. 👍

Thank you to Kitty from Kitty Marie’s Reading Corner for suggesting this week’s topic. 🙂

 

TTT

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. Upcoming topics and past TTT topics can be found here.

 

1-2. Vicious & Vengeful by V.E. Schwab

 

I’ve read both of these books. Both of them are two of my favorite books because of the idea of near death experiences possibly producing ExtraOrdinary individuals, the murkiness of morality, the questions we have to ask ourselves about who is the hero and who is a villain. There is so much depth to both of them that they get richer the more you read them.

 

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Published: 29 May 2018 (originally published 24 September 2013)

Publisher: Titan Books

Genre(s): Fantasy/Science Fiction

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates–brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.

Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find–aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge–but who will be left alive at the end?

In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question.

 

 

 

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Published: 25 September 2018

Publisher: Titan Books

Genre(s): Fantasy/Science Fiction

A super-powered collision of extraordinary minds and vengeful intentions—#1 New York Times bestselling author V. E. Schwab returns with the thrilling follow-up to Vicious.

Magneto and Professor X. Superman and Lex Luthor. Victor Vale and Eli Ever. Sydney and Serena Clarke. Great partnerships, now soured on the vine.

But Marcella Riggins needs no one. Flush from her brush with death, she’s finally gained the control she’s always sought—and will use her new-found power to bring the city of Merit to its knees. She’ll do whatever it takes, collecting her own sidekicks, and leveraging the two most infamous EOs, Victor Vale and Eli Ever, against each other.

With Marcella’s rise, new enmities create opportunity–and the stage of Merit City will once again be set for a final, terrible reckoning.

 

 

3. Slay by Brittney Morris

 

I recently check this out from the library. It’s a fascinating book that, as far as I’ve gotten, has touched on cultural appropriation, gaming, and the busyness of high school life. It’s getting exciting and I’m curious to see where it’ll go next.

 

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Published: 24 September 2019

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Genre(s): Contemporary/Fiction/Young Adult

By day, seventeen-year-old Kiera Johnson is an honors student, a math tutor, and one of the only Black kids at Jefferson Academy. But at home, she joins hundreds of thousands of Black gamers who duel worldwide as Nubian personas in the secret multiplayer online role-playing card game, SLAY. No one knows Kiera is the game developer, not her friends, her family, not even her boyfriend, Malcolm, who believes video games are partially responsible for the “downfall of the Black man.”

But when a teen in Kansas City is murdered over a dispute in the SLAY world, news of the game reaches mainstream media, and SLAY is labeled a racist, exclusionist, violent hub for thugs and criminals. Even worse, an anonymous troll infiltrates the game, threatening to sue Kiera for “anti-white discrimination.”

Driven to save the only world in which she can be herself, Kiera must preserve her secret identity and harness what it means to be unapologetically Black in a world intimidated by Blackness. But can she protect her game without losing herself in the process?

 

 

4. Jackpot by Nic Stone

 

I was gifted a copy of this recently and from the peak I took into the first chapter, it looks so, so good. The tone is sarcastic & hilarious, just my kind of thing. 🙂

 

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Published: 15 October 2019

Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers

Genre(s): Young Adult/Contemporary

From the author of the New York Times bestseller Dear Martin–comes a pitch-perfect romance that examines class, privilege, and how a stroke of good luck can change an entire life.

Meet Rico: high school senior and afternoon-shift cashier at the Gas ‘n’ Go, who after school and work races home to take care of her younger brother. Every. Single. Day. When Rico sells a jackpot-winning lotto ticket, she thinks maybe her luck will finally change, but only if she–with some assistance from her popular and wildly rich classmate Zan–can find the ticket holder who hasn’t claimed the prize. But what happens when have and have-nots collide? Will this investigative duo unite…or divide?

Nic Stone, the New York Times bestselling author of Dear Martin and Odd One Out, creates two unforgettable characters in one hard-hitting story about class, money–both too little and too much–and how you make your own luck in the world.

 

 

5. You by Caroline Kepnes, Narrated by Santiago Fontana

 

Recommended by a close friend, this has been one of the most conflicting books I’ve read in recent memory. It’s told from the perspective of a stalker and in a way where you’re not entirely sure that he’s a bad guy (spoiler: oh, yeah, he totally is). It’s such a well crafted novel and the audio book is a fabulous performance (Santiago Fontana also played Hans in Frozen, which seems so *chefs kiss* 😂).

 

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Published: 20 September 2014

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio

Genre(s): Thriller/Mystery

When aspiring writer Guinevere Beck strides into the bookstore where Joe works, he is instantly smitten.

But there’s more to Joe than Beck realises and much more to Beck than her perfect facade. And the obsessive relationship quickly spirals into a whirlwind of deadly consequences…

 

 

6-7. Slayer & Chosen by Kiersten White

 

I grew up watching the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer. When I heard that Kiersten White, author of my personal favorite The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein, was writing a new in-universe series, I got very excited. These books look and sound amazing, I think y’all will agree. 😁

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Published: 8 January 2019

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Genre(s): Young Adult/Fantasy (Paranormal)

Into every generation a Slayer is born…

Nina and her twin sister, Artemis, are far from normal. It’s hard to be when you grow up at the Watcher’s Academy, which is a bit different from your average boarding school. Here teens are trained as guides for Slayers—girls gifted with supernatural strength to fight the forces of darkness. But while Nina’s mother is a prominent member of the Watcher’s Council, Nina has never embraced the violent Watcher lifestyle. Instead she follows her instincts to heal, carving out a place for herself as the school medic.

Until the day Nina’s life changes forever.

Thanks to Buffy, the famous (and infamous) Slayer that Nina’s father died protecting, Nina is not only the newest Chosen One—she’s the last Slayer, ever. Period.

As Nina hones her skills with her Watcher-in-training, Leo, there’s plenty to keep her occupied: a monster fighting ring, a demon who eats happiness, a shadowy figure that keeps popping up in Nina’s dreams…

But it’s not until bodies start turning up that Nina’s new powers will truly be tested—because someone she loves might be next.

One thing is clear: Being Chosen is easy. Making choices is hard.

 

 

 

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Published: 7 January 2020

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Genre(s): Young Adult/Fantasy (Paranormal)

Nina continues to learn how to use her slayer powers against enemies old and new in this second novel in the New York Times bestselling series from Kiersten White, set in the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Now that Nina has turned the Watcher’s Castle into a utopia for hurt and lonely demons, she’s still waiting for the utopia part to kick in. With her sister Artemis gone and only a few people remaining at the castle—including her still-distant mother—Nina has her hands full. Plus, though she gained back her Slayer powers from Leo, they’re not feeling quite right after being held by the seriously evil succubus Eve, a.k.a. fake Watcher’s Council member and Leo’s mom.

And while Nina is dealing with the darkness inside, there’s also a new threat on the outside, portended by an odd triangle symbol that seems to be popping up everywhere, in connection with Sean’s demon drug ring as well as someone a bit closer to home. Because one near-apocalypse just isn’t enough, right?

The darkness always finds you. And once again, it’s coming for the Slayer.

 

 

8. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

 

The trailer for the film based on this graphic novel has played on a couple of preview reels in my DVD collection & I keep meaning to pick it up.

 

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Published: 1 June 2004

Publisher: Pantheon

Genre(s): Nonfiction/Autobiography

Wise, funny, and heartbreaking, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.

Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran and of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life. Marjane’s child’s-eye view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family. Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, with laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity. And, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love.

 

 

9. Starless by Jacqueline Carey

 

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a Carey book (Kushiel’s Dart in high school, I think?), but this one sound neato. 👀 Gods schmods, the humans are gonna take the wheel in this story.

 

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Published: 12 June 2018

Publisher: Tor Books

Genre(s): Fantasy/Fiction/LGBTQ+

Jacqueline Carey is back with an amazing adventure not seen since her New York Times bestselling Kushiel’s Legacy series. Lush and sensual, Starless introduces us to an epic world where exiled gods live among us, and a hero whose journey will resonate long after the last page is turned.

Let your mind be like the eye of the hawk…Destined from birth to serve as protector of the princess Zariya, Khai is trained in the arts of killing and stealth by a warrior sect in the deep desert; yet there is one profound truth that has been withheld from him.

In the court of the Sun-Blessed, Khai must learn to navigate deadly intrigue and his own conflicted identity…but in the far reaches of the western seas, the dark god Miasmus is rising, intent on nothing less than wholesale destruction.

If Khai is to keep his soul’s twin Zariya alive, their only hope lies with an unlikely crew of prophecy-seekers on a journey that will take them farther beneath the starless skies than anyone can imagine.

 

 

10. Beloved by Toni Morrison

 

Beloved has been on my periphery for a long time. Hopefully I can get to it this year.

 

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Published: 16 September 1987

Publisher: Vintage

Genre(s): Historical Fiction/Classics

Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby.

Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. Her new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved.

Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved is a towering achievement by Nobel Prize laureate Toni Morrison.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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[Waiting on Wednesday] A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey

Waiting on Wednesday

 

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event created by Breaking the Spine in which an anticipated title is highlighted. You can find their website here.

I read Laura’s debut, The Library of Lost Things, earlier this year and was impressed with her characters and her writing. When her new book was announced, I knew I’d be reading it.

Then the COVER! The COMP to Don’t Date Rosa Santos! I mean! How much more do y’all need for me to want to read this! 😭🥰

A tea lover to the core, I can’t wait to see what sort of related knowledge we see in the book because if I know anything about Laura from her previous book, it’s that she’ll do her topic justice. Combined with MC Lila’s baking and there is no way I’ll be walking away from this book without snacking at least a couple of times. 😂

 

 

about the book - Copy

 

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Published: 6 October 2020

Publisher: Atheneum

Genre(s): Contemporary/Young Adult/Romance

Love & Gelato meets Don’t Date Rosa Santos in this charming, heartfelt story following a Miami girl who unexpectedly finds love—and herself—in a small English town.

For Lila Reyes, a summer in England was never part of the plan. The plan was 1) take over her abuela’s role as head baker at their panadería, 2) move in with her best friend after graduation, and 3) live happily ever after with her boyfriend. But then the Trifecta happened, and everything—including Lila herself—fell apart.

Worried about Lila’s mental health, her parents make a new plan for her: Spend three months with family friends in Winchester, England, to relax and reset. But with the lack of sun, a grumpy inn cook, and a small town lacking Miami flavor (both in food and otherwise), what would be a dream trip for some feels more like a nightmare to Lila…until she meets Orion Maxwell.

A teashop clerk with troubles of his own, Orion is determined to help Lila out of her funk, and appoints himself as her personal tour guide. From Winchester’s drama-filled music scene to the sweeping English countryside, it isn’t long before Lila is not only charmed by Orion, but England itself. Soon a new future is beginning to form in Lila’s mind—one that would mean leaving everything she ever planned behind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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[Waiting on Wednesday] Cinderella is Dead by Kaylnn Bayron

Waiting on Wednesday

 

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event created by Breaking the Spine in which an anticipated title is highlighted. You can find their website here.

 

Growing up I’ll admit that I saw Cinderella a ton and thought that it was fairly basic: she wanted to go to the ball, dance with the prince, and that was about it. Holy crap is there so much more to the story though? Disney does a number on you. 😅

Cinderella is Dead is a futuristic fairy tale retelling that sounds like a) a 👀 wow queer story (thank you) b) a kind of dystopian twist on the classic story? I’m curious how the original story, in this world at least, goes from something that is theoretically romantic to a place where girls are ostensibly being slaughtered if they’re not chosen by the man at the ball.

Does not chosen mean slaughtered? It says their lives are forfeit so that’s a little unclear at the moment, but it’s pretty ominous whatever it means.

Let’s talk for a minute about the COVER. The one I chose to feature in this post is the UK cover because it screams CINDERELLA just a bit more to me than the US cover. Both are 100% gorgeous, don’t get me wrong. I think the blue background and hair accents really tip it over the edge into 😍 territory.

 

 

about the book - Copy

 

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Published: 7 July (US)/6 August (UK) 2020

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA

Genre(s): Fantasy/Young Adult/LGBTQ+/Retellings

It’s 200 years since Cinderella found her prince, but the fairytale is over.

Sophia knows the story though, off by heart. Because every girl has to recite it daily, from when she’s tiny until the night she’s sent to the royal ball for choosing. And every girl knows that she has only one chance. For the lives of those not chosen by a man at the ball … are forfeited.

But Sophia doesn’t want to be chosen – she’s in love with her best friend, Erin, and hates the idea of being traded like cattle. And when Sophia’s night at the ball goes horribly wrong, she must run for her life. Alone and terrified, she finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s tomb. And there she meets someone who will show her that she has the power to remake her world …

An electrifying twist on the classic fairytale that will inspire girls to break out of limiting stereotypes and follow their dreams!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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