Manic Monday: Massive Reading Rut Edition aka NEED RECS

ManicMonday

I’m in a serious reading rut. Nothing is grabbing my attention. On the rare occasion that something has, it doesn’t hold it. The last book I read was SALT TO THE SEA by Ruta Sepetys so I thought I’d search out more historical fiction. I got nada.

via GIPHY

So I went back to my old friend, contemporary. Still nothing.

via GIPHY

Then I tried some fantasy…

via GIPHY

And that’s where I am. So please, post recs in the comments. I feel like a lost little lamb without anything to … well, to lose myself in.

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Manic Monday: Diversity in YA

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we are highlighting several 2016 Diverse YA Books that we are excited to read.  (Feel free to click on the covers to see each Goodreads page and then you can add these amazing books to your own TBR list!)

 

Happy Reading!

 

TIWIE ATorch GreatAmerican 9780399175411_OutrunTheMoon_BOM.indd rebel Rose Run TGFE TSTQ You Know Me Well look both ways Inside

 

 

 

 

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Manic Monday: YA Books with Mental Illness

This was going to be my post for last week’s Manic Monday, but wi-fi troubles kept me from getting online. Apologies. But, better late than never, I suppose.

Continuing my theme of highlighting diverse books, today’s post is about MENTAL ILLNESS.  Realistic fiction with mental illness is sometimes hard to read because the truth is, mental illness is just darn ugly. When it’s not glorified or viewed through filters, it can be disturbing. But we still need books that talk about mental health because the only way to fight taboo surrounding it is to keep the dialogue going. Raise awareness. Have open discussions.

My list here is very limited. I only chose to highlight 5 of the books I’ve read, and 5 of the books I want to read that deal with mental issues. If you have any recommendations for me, fire away! I’d be more than happy to add them to my TBR list.

Books I’ve read:

  1. WINTERGIRLS by Laurie Halse Anderson (Eating Disorder, Suicide, Depression)

5152478“Dead girl walking”, the boys say in the halls.
“Tell us your secret”, the girls whisper, one toilet to another.
I am that girl.
I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.
I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.

Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit.

Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s descent into the powerful vortex of anorexia, and her painful path toward recovery.

The format and stylistic prose correlates to the main character’s state of mind. Anorexia is a mental disorder. It is real and disturbing and damaging. And it isn’t pretty.

This book isn’t pretty (though the prose is lovely). Ms. Anderson digs deep into Lia’s character and her anorexia, and exposes the ugliness of this illness for all to see. 

2. THE HALF LIFE OF MOLLY PIERCE by Katrina Leno (I can’t say without giving the plot away)

16068973For all of her seventeen years, Molly feels like she’s missed bits and pieces of her life. Now, she’s figuring out why. Now, she’s remembering her own secrets. And in doing so, Molly uncovers the separate life she seems to have led…and the love that she can’t let go.

The Half Life of Molly Pierce is a suspenseful, evocative psychological mystery about uncovering the secrets of our pasts, facing the unknowns of our futures, and accepting our whole selves.

 

 

 

This was a fast-paced read that had me guessing what was going on almost the entire time. I can’t say much without giving anything away, so I’ll just say that this is one suspenseful, mysterious read (until the reveal).

3. THE IN-BETWEEN by Barbara Stewart (Psychological Thriller, Delusions)

17286845When Elanor’s near-death experience opens a door to a world inhabited by bold, beautiful Madeline, she finds her life quickly spiraling out of control

Fourteen-year-old Elanor Moss has always been an outcast who fails at everything she tries–she’s even got the fine, white scars to prove it. Moving was supposed to be a chance at a fresh start, a way to leave behind all the pain and ugliness of her old life. But, when a terrible car accident changes her life forever, her near-death experience opens a door to a world inhabited by Madeline Torus . . . Madeline is everything Elanor isn’t: beautiful, bold, brave. She is exactly what Elanor has always wanted in a best friend and more–their connection runs deeper than friendship. But Madeline is not like other girls, and Elanor has to keep her new friend a secret or risk being labeled “crazy.” Soon, though, even Elanor starts to doubt her own sanity. Madeline is her entire life, and that life is drastically spinning out of control. Elanor knows what happens when your best friend becomes your worst enemy. But what happens when your worst enemy is yourself?
With her debut novel, The In-Between, Barbara Stewart presents a bold new voice in teen fiction.

A disturbing book with an unreliable narrator. This seriously gave me the creeps.

4. THE RUINING by Anna Collomore (Psychological Thriller, Paranoia)

15715847Annie Phillips is thrilled to leave her past behind and begin a shiny new life on Belvedere Island, as a nanny for the picture-perfect Cohen family. In no time at all, she falls in love with the Cohens – especially with Libby, the beautiful young matriarch of the family. Life is better than she ever imagined. She even finds romance with the boy next door.

All too soon cracks appear in Annie’s seemingly perfect world. She’s blamed for mistakes she doesn’t remember making. Her bedroom door comes unhinged, and she feels like she’s always being watched. Libby, who once felt like a big sister, is suddenly cold and unforgiving. As she struggles to keep up with the demands of her new life, Annie’s fear gives way to frightening hallucinations. Is she tumbling into madness or is something sinister at play?

THE RUINING is a complex ride through first love, chilling manipulation, and the terrifying depths of insanity.

Another unreliable narrator. There is reference to the short story THE YELLOW WALLPAPER (which also serves as a parallel to this book), which is about a woman who slowly starts going crazy, believing that there is someone behind the yellow wallpaper in her room–someone who is out to get her.

5. BY THE TIME YOU READ THIS, I’LL BE DEAD by Julia Anne Peters (Depression, Bullying, Suicide)

6609549Daelyn Rice is broken beyond repair, and after a string of botched suicide attempts, she’s determined to get her death right. She starts visiting a website for “completers”— www. through-the-light.com.

While she’s on the site, Daelyn blogs about her life, uncovering a history of bullying that goes back to kindergarten. When she’s not on the Web, Daelyn’s at her private school, where she’s known as the freak who doesn’t talk.

Then, a boy named Santana begins to sit with her after school while she’s waiting to for her parents to pick her up. Even though she’s made it clear that she wants to be left alone, Santana won’t give up. And it’s too late for Daelyn to be letting people into her life… isn’t it?

National Book Award finalist Julie Anne Peters shines a light on how bullying can push young people to the very edge.

Trigger warning: suicide. This is a hard book to read, though it sometimes gives rays of hope. But ultimately, the lack of clear resolution in the end may drive you crazy (as it did me. Not literally crazy, but you get what I mean).

Books I want to read:

 

  1. SCHIZO by Nic Sheff (Schizophrenia)

18762415Miles is the ultimate unreliable narrator—a teen recovering from a schizophrenic breakdown who believes he is getting better . . . when in reality he is growing worse.

Driven to the point of obsession to find his missing younger brother, Teddy, and wrapped up in a romance that may or may not be the real thing, Miles is forever chasing shadows. As Miles feels his world closing around him, he struggles to keep it open, but what you think you know about his world is actually a blur of gray, and the sharp focus of reality proves startling.

 

 

 

2. MADE YOU UP by Francesca Zappia (Paranoia, Schizophrenia)

17661416Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook, and Liar.

Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn’t she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal.

 

3. CHALLENGER DEEP by Neal Shusterman (Schizoaffective Disorder)

18075234Caden Bosch is on a ship that’s headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench.

Caden Bosch is a brilliant high school student whose friends are starting to notice his odd behavior.

Caden Bosch is designated the ship’s artist in residence, to document the journey with images.

Caden Bosch pretends to join the school track team but spends his days walking for miles, absorbed by the thoughts in his head.

Caden Bosch is split between his allegiance to the captain and the allure of mutiny.

Caden Bosch is torn.

A captivating and powerful novel that lingers long beyond the last page, Challenger Deep is a heartfelt tour de force by one of today’s most admired writers for teens.

 

4. MY HEART AND OTHER BLACK HOLES by Jasmine Warga (Depression, Suicide)

18336965Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.

There’s only one problem: she’s not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel’s convinced she’s found her solution: a teen boy with the username FrozenRobot (aka Roman) who’s haunted by a family tragedy is looking for a partner.

Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other’s broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together. Except that Roman may not be so easy to convince.

 

5. THESE GENTLE WOUNDS by Helene Dunbar (PTSD)

18187029Sometimes I wish I’d lost a leg or something. Everyone can understand that. They never get it when what’s been broken is inside your head.

Five years after an unspeakable tragedy that changed him forever, Gordie Allen has made a new home with his half-brother Kevin. Their arrangement works since Kevin is the only person who can protect Gordie at school and keep him focused on getting his life back on track.

But just when it seems like things are becoming normal, Gordie’s biological father comes back into the picture, demanding a place in his life. Now there’s nothing to stop Gordie from falling into a tailspin that could cost him everything—including his relationship with Sarah, the first girl he’s trusted with the truth. With his world spinning out of control, the only one who can help Gordie is himself . . . if he can find the strength to confront the past and take back his future.

 

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Manic Monday: Asian MCs in YA

I’m on a diversity kick right now. With recent news in the publishing world stirring up age-old debate on diversity (I’m not linking to anything because I want this post to focus–and celebrate–diverse books), I thought maybe it’s good to take a break from all the yapping and–for supporters of diverse books–to put our money where our mouth is. So! Go add these books to your TBR list and read them or buy them and read them, and then write reviews to spread the word, ‘mkay?

For this particular post, I’m only listing books with Asian MCs. Diversity or “Other” is such a broad term encompassing race, gender/sexual orientation, disability, mental health, chronic illnesses, etc. that I can’t possibly cover them all in one Manic Monday post. So, this means, you’ll just have to keep an eye for my future posts, right? :)

And if you have any excellent recommendations, fire away in the comment section!

(Note: These books are not necessarily written by Asian authors. I’m only looking for Asian characters. If you want a list of Asian American authors, check out Diversity in YA: 10 New and Debut Asian American YA Authors for starters.)

  • THE WALLED CITY by Ryan Graudin (Hong Kong, Realistic Fiction, Based on a historical city)

18196040730. That’s how many days I’ve been trapped.
18. That’s how many days I have left to find a way out.

DAI, trying to escape a haunting past, traffics drugs for the most ruthless kingpin in the Walled City. But in order to find the key to his freedom, he needs help from someone with the power to be invisible….

JIN hides under the radar, afraid the wild street gangs will discover her biggest secret: Jin passes as a boy to stay safe. Still, every chance she gets, she searches for her lost sister….

MEI YEE has been trapped in a brothel for the past two years, dreaming of getting out while watching the girls who try fail one by one. She’s about to give up, when one day she sees an unexpected face at her window…..

In this innovative and adrenaline-fueled novel, they all come together in a desperate attempt to escape a lawless labyrinth before the clock runs out.

add to goodreads

I just finished this last week! Based on Kowloon City in Hong Kong, THE WALLED CITY is as gritty and lawless and dark as the inspiration. Drugs, human trafficking, street gangs, murder…Ryan Graudin brings the despairing reality of this place to life through the eyes of three characters: Dai, Jin Ling, and Mei Yee. Atmospheric with pretty writing.

  • BOOK OF A THOUSAND DAYS by Shannon Hale (Set in Central Asia, Fairytale Retelling)

248484When Dashti, a maid, and Lady Saren, her mistress, are shut in a tower for seven years because of Saren’s refusal to marry a man she despises, the two prepare for a very long and dark imprisonment.

As food runs low and the days go from broiling hot to freezing cold, it is all Dashti can do to keep them fed and comfortable. With the arrival outside the tower of Saren’s two suitors–one welcome, the other decidedly less so–the girls are confronted with both hope and great danger, and Dashti must make the desperate choices of a girl whose life is worth more than she knows.

With Shannon Hale’s lyrical language, this little-known classic fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm is reimagined and reset on the central Asian steppes; it is a completely unique retelling filled with adventure and romance, drama and disguise.

add to goodreads

I read this years ago, but I still remember how much I loved it. I’m a fan of Ms. Hale. Beautiful prose and wonderfully nuanced characters. 

  • KEEPING CORNER by Kashmira Sheth (Historical, India, Realistic Fiction)

1037637Pretty as a peacock, twelve-year-old Leela has been spoiled all her life. She doesn’t care for school and barely marks the growing unrest between the British colonists and her own countrymen. Why should she? Her future has been planned since her engagement at two and marriage at nine.

Leela’s whole life changes, though, when her husband dies. She’s now expected to behave like a proper widow: shaving her head and trading her jewel-toned saris for rough, earth-colored ones. Leela is considered unlucky now, and will have to stay confined to her house for a year—keep corner—in preparation for a life of mourning a boy she barely knew.

When her schoolteacher hears of her fate, she offers Leela lessons at home. For the first time, despite her confinement, Leela opens her eyes to the changing world around her. India is suffering from a severe drought, and farmers are unable to pay taxes to the British. She learns about a new leader of the people, a man named Gandhi, who starts a political movement and practices satyagraha—non-violent protest against the colonists as well as the caste system. The quiet strength of satyagraha may liberate her country. Could she use the same path to liberate herself?

add to goodreads

Another book that I’ve read years ago, and yet, I still remember the title and the author as clearly as if it was only yesterday. Leela’s character arc is pretty impressive, and she turns from a spoiled little girl to a strong woman who must fight for what she believes in, in a culture that is limiting and oppressive to women.

  • DAUGHTER OF XANADU by Dori Jones Yang (Fantasy, Mongolian, Historical)

7795696Athletic and strong willed, Princess Emmajin’s determined to do what no woman has done before: become a warrior in the army of her grandfather, the Great Khan Khubilai. In the Mongol world the only way to achieve respect is to show bravery and win glory on the battlefield. The last thing she wants is the distraction of the foreigner Marco Polo, who challenges her beliefs in the gardens of Xanadu. Marco has no skills in the “manly arts” of the Mongols: horse racing, archery, and wrestling. Still, he charms the Khan with his wit and story-telling. Emmajin sees a different Marco as they travel across 13th-century China, hunting ‘dragons’ and fighting elephant-back warriors. Now she faces a different battle as she struggles with her attraction towards Marco and her incredible goal of winning fame as a soldier.

add to goodreads

Haven’t read this, but a Mongolian Princess? Yes, please!

  • SERPENTINE by Cindy Pon (Fantasy, Chinese)

22095547SERPENTINE is a sweeping fantasy set in the ancient Kingdom of Xia and inspired by the rich history of Chinese mythology.

Lush with details from Chinese folklore, SERPENTINE tells the coming of age story of Skybright, a young girl who worries about her growing otherness. As she turns sixteen, Skybright notices troubling changes. By day, she is a companion and handmaid to the youngest daughter of a very wealthy family. But nighttime brings with it a darkness that not even daybreak can quell.

When her plight can no longer be denied, Skybright learns that despite a dark destiny, she must struggle to retain her sense of self – even as she falls in love for the first time.

add to goodreads

Another book that I really, really want to read!

  • THE FIRE HORSE GIRL by Kay Honeyman (Historical, Chinese)

14746310Jade Moon is a Fire Horse—the worst sign in the Chinese zodiac for girls, said to make them stubborn, willful, and far too imaginative. But while her family despairs of marrying her off, she has a passionate heart and powerful dreams, and wants only to find a way to make them come true.

Then a young man named Sterling Promise comes to their village to offer Jade Moon and her father a chance to go to America. While Sterling Promise’s smooth manners couldn’t be more different from her own impulsive nature, Jade Moon falls in love with him on the long voyage. But America in 1923 doesn’t want to admit many Chinese, and when they are detained at Angel Island, the “Ellis Island of the West”, she discovers a betrayal that destroys all her dreams. To get into America, much less survive there, Jade Moon will have to use all her stubbornness and will to break a new path… one as brave and dangerous as only a Fire Horse girl can imagine.

add to goodreads

I’ve been reading a historical nonfiction about the Japanese Americans in the US pre-WWII and during, and I remember reading how before the Japanese came to America, there were Chinese laborers working to build transcontinental railroad in the 1860s. Congress would later pass laws prohibiting further Chinese immigration. This book, set in 1923, falls in that era. Which makes me want to get this book, like right now.

  • WRITTEN IN THE STARS by Aisha Saeed (Contemporary, Romance, Pakistani/South Asian MC)

22521951This heart-wrenching novel explores what it is like to be thrust into an unwanted marriage. Has Naila’s fate been written in the stars? Or can she still make her own destiny?

Naila’s conservative immigrant parents have always said the same thing: She may choose what to study, how to wear her hair, and what to be when she grows up—but they will choose her husband. Following their cultural tradition, they will plan an arranged marriage for her. And until then, dating—even friendship with a boy—is forbidden. When Naila breaks their rule by falling in love with Saif, her parents are livid. Convinced she has forgotten who she truly is, they travel to Pakistan to visit relatives and explore their roots. But Naila’s vacation turns into a nightmare when she learns that plans have changed—her parents have found her a husband and they want her to marry him, now! Despite her greatest efforts, Naila is aghast to find herself cut off from everything and everyone she once knew. Her only hope of escape is Saif . . . if he can find her before it’s too late.

add to goodreads

I’ve heard lots of good things about this one!

  • STORMDANCER by Jay Kristoff (Fantasy, Japanese, Steampunk)

10852343Arashitoras are supposed to be extinct. So when Yukiko and her warrior father Masaru are sent to capture one for the Shõgun, they fear that their lives are over – everyone knows what happens to those who fail the Lord of the Shima Isles. But the mission proves less impossible and more deadly than anyone expects. Soon Yukiko finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in her country’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled arashitora for company. Although she can hear his thoughts, and saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her. Yet trapped together in the forest, Yukiko and the beast soon discover a bond that neither of them expected.

Meanwhile, the country around them verges on collapse. A toxic fuel is choking the land, the machine-powered Lotus Guild is publicly burning those they deem Impure, and the Shõgun cares for nothing but his own dominion. Authority has always made Yukiko, but her world changes when she meets Kin, a young man with secrets, and the rebel Kagé cabal. She learns the horrifying extent of the Shõgun’s crimes, both against her country and her family.

Returning to the city, Yukiko is determined to make the Shõgun pay – but what can one girl and a flightless arashitora do against the might of an empire?

add to goodreads

That cover alone…*drools* Who doesn’t like butt-kicking Asian heroines, right? The entire series is on my TBR list.

  • KIRA-KIRA by Cynthia Kadohata (Japanese American, Historical)

89731kira-kira (kee ra kee ra): glittering; shining Glittering. That’s how Katie Takeshima’s sister, Lynn, makes everything seem. The sky is kira-kira because its color is deep but see-through at the same time. The sea is kira-kira for the same reason. And so are people’s eyes.
When Katie and her family move from a Japanese community in Iowa to the Deep South of Georgia, it’s Lynn who explains to her why people stop on the street to stare. And it’s Lynn who, with her special way of viewing the world, teaches Katie to look beyond tomorrow.
But when Lynn becomes desperately ill, and the whole family begins to fall apart, it is up to Katie to find a way to remind them all that there is always something glittering — kira-kira — in the future.

add to goodreads

My daughter read this and she loved it! I need to get a copy so I can read it, too.

  • GIRL IN TRANSLATION by Jean Kwok (Chinese American, Contemporary)

7362158When Kimberly Chang and her mother emigrate from Hong Kong to Brooklyn squalor, she quickly begins a secret double life: exceptional schoolgirl during the day, Chinatown sweatshop worker in the evenings. Disguising the more difficult truths of her life like the staggering degree of her poverty, the weight of her family’s future resting on her shoulders, or her secret love for a factory boy who shares none of her talent or ambition. Kimberly learns to constantly translate not just her language but herself back and forth between the worlds she straddles.

Through Kimberly’s story, author Jean Kwok, who also emigrated from Hong Kong as a young girl, brings to the page the lives of countless immigrants who are caught between the pressure to succeed in America, their duty to their family, and their own personal desires, exposing a world that we rarely hear about.

Written in an indelible voice that dramatizes the tensions of an immigrant girl growing up between two cultures, surrounded by a language and world only half understood, Girl in Translation is an unforgettable and classic novel of an American immigrant-a moving tale of hardship and triumph, heartbreak and love, and all that gets lost in translation.

add to goodreads

Yes to this!

There are so many great books out there–seriously, while planning this post, I had to make a list of books either written by Asian authors or books with Asian characters, and my list turned out to be so long, I had a hard time figuring out what to include in this post. Which is great, yeah? I’m going to make a conscious effort to include diverse books in my TBR-now pile to support diversity in literature.

What is on your TBR pile?

xo~

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Manic Monday: Working Teens in Honor of Labor Day

Growing up, I was fortunate to only hold a few jobs. I didn’t need the money, so it was more for the experience, getting a feel for the work force, something my parents wanted for me. I worked as an orthodontist office assistant and later at a church daycare. That’s it. But I had lots of friends who worked, at Chuck e Cheese, Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, the grocery store, etc. So with it being Labor Day, it got me curious. What kind of jobs do our YA characters hold? Are there patterns? Do they mostly work in coffee shops because of the vast majority of authors have a caffeine addiction?

 

Let’s find out, shall we?

Jobs in YA

Not what I was expecting! I went through my Goodreads page and just listed every MC and their job. There were about 150 books that I considered in this graph, most published within that last… 5-10 years, I’d guess. It’s interesting to see that the vast majority of YA teens don’t hold jobs. But that’s understandable. Most are too busy with the crazy things in their lives to have time for jobs. (Mara Dyer, The Fifth Wave, Taken, The Darkest Minds, Etiquette and Espionage, Stephanie Perkins’ books, The Name of the Star, Delirium, John Green’s books, Divergent, etc.)

 

And then there are the Royalty. 18 Royals in books I’ve read! (Throne of Glass Series, The Orphan Queen, Falling Kingdoms Series, The Wrath and the Dawn, The Winner’s Trilogy, The Selection Series, The Lunar Chronicles, The False Prince, etc.)

 

Assassins (Throne of Glass, Graceling)

Spies (The Orphan Queen, Gallagher Girls, Sekret, Code Name Verity, Perfect Cover)

Fixer (The Fixer)

Doll Store (The Distance Between Us)

Singer (Open Road Summer)

Mechanic (Cinder)

FBI Assistant (The Naturals)

Thief (Heist Society, Pretty Crooked)

Hunter (A Court of Thorns and Roses, The Hunger Games)

Horse Trainer (The Scorpio Races)

Coffee Shop (The Shadow Society) <—- really???? only one barista?????

Magazine Reporter (Lois Lane: Fallout)

Blogger (We All Looked Up)

Slave (An Ember in the Ashes)

Bookstore (and by bookstore, I mean “Occult Shop” in Hexed)

 

 

While this isn’t the most comprehensive list nor do I promise it is 100% accurate (dude, I read some of these books YEARS ago!), I used my memory to recall jobs characters held and it does give a great representation of the YA world and the jobs those characters hold. If anything, it gives you a good idea, a jumping off point, to see what these characters are doing to make money (although it some cases, they aren’t, example “slave.”)

So what jobs would you like to see?

I think I’d like to see a dress maker. An artist. A musician…

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Manic Monday: Don’t let the serial killers get in your head

ManicMonday

Calm down, people. I’m talking about Killers…I mean, THRILLERS. Crime Thrillers in YA. I’ve recently finished reading a series about serial killers, and wow, it was…disturbing. But interesting. And I’m hooked. 

I want to know what crime thrillers you’ve read and if there’s any I should be picking up right away (as soon as my brain feels normal-sized again, and the nightmares are distant memories. Ha!)

So far, here are the ones I’ve read this year:

  • I HUNT KILLERS (Book #1) by Barry Lyga

7766027What if the world’s worst serial killer…was your dad?

Jasper “Jazz” Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.

But he’s also the son of the world’s most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could—from the criminal’s point of view.

And now bodies are piling up in Lobo’s Nod.

In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret—could he be more like his father than anyone knows?

My Thoughts: A serial killer for a dad? If this kid is not messed up, I’m calling the whole thing a waste of time. But guess what? He IS messed up. But Jasper is also trying so so hard NOT to be messed up, and that counts for a lot of something. Two thumbs up! (Well, um, thumbs that are still attached to hands, that’s what.)

  • GAME (Book #2) by Barry Lyga

15790833Billy grinned. “Oh, New York,” he whispered. “We’re gonna have so much fun.”

I Hunt Killers introduced the world to Jazz, the son of history’s most infamous serial killer, Billy Dent.

In an effort to prove murder didn’t run in the family, Jazz teamed with the police in the small town of Lobo’s Nod to solve a deadly case. And now, when a determined New York City detective comes knocking on Jazz’s door asking for help, he can’t say no. The Hat-Dog Killer has the Big Apple–and its police force–running scared. So Jazz and his girlfriend, Connie, hop on a plane to the big city and get swept up in a killer’s murderous game.

 

My Thoughts: While reading, I was mostly going: No! No! Stay where you are! What are you doing? What ARE you doing?

  • BLOOD OF MY BLOOD (Book #3) by Barry Lyga

18050728Jazz Dent has never been closer to catching his father.

Jazz has been shot and left to die in New York. His girlfriend, Connie, is in the clutches of Jazz’s monstrous father, Billy–the world’s most notorious serial killer. And his best friend, Howie, is bleeding to death on the floor of Jazz’s new home.

Somehow, these three must rise above the horrors and find a way to come together in pursuit of Billy.

But then Jazz crosses a line he’s never crossed before, and soon the entire country is wondering: “Like father, like son? Who is the true monster?”

From New York City to the small town of Lobo’s Nod, the chase is on, and this time, Jazz is the hunted, not the hunter–while Billy Dent lurks in the shadows.

And beyond Billy? Something much, much worse. Prepare to meet…the Crow King.

My Thoughts: Oh. Help me. Someone. What. *flails* My advice to you: No snacking while reading. Okay? Okay!

  • KILLER INSTINCT (Book #2) by S. E. Green

18343196She’s not evil, but she has certain… urges.

Lane is a typical teenager. Loving family. Good grades. Afterschool job at the local animal hospital. Martial arts enthusiast. But her secret obsession is studying serial killers. She understands them, knows what makes them tick.

Why?

Because she might be one herself.

Lane channels her dark impulses by hunting criminals—delivering justice when the law fails. The vigilantism stops shy of murder. But with each visceral rush the line of self-control blurs.
And then a young preschool teacher goes missing. Only to return… in parts.

When Lane excitedly gets involved in the hunt for “the Decapitator,” the vicious serial murderer that has come to her hometown, she gets dangerously caught up in a web of lies about her birth dad and her own dark past. And once the Decapitator contacts Lane directly, Lane knows she is no longer invisible or safe. Now she needs to use her unique talents to find the true killer’s identity before she—or someone she loves—becomes the next victim…

My Thoughts: So I actually read this before the Barry Lyga series, and while it’s similar to the I Hunt Killers series premise-wise (kid wants to hunt serial killers, etc.), it still has a different feel to it. I liked Jasper Dent better–maybe because I couldn’t connect with Lane as much as I did with Jasper. Lane’s internal monologue was disturbing and more clinically cold than Jasper’s–Jasper Dent worked so hard to fight off his demons that his efforts humanized him. Still a great, suspenseful read though, so don’t let me stop you.

  • KILLING RUBY ROSE (Book #1) by Jessie Humphries

20687064In sunny Southern California, seventeen-year-old Ruby Rose is known for her killer looks and her killer SAT scores. But ever since her dad, an LAPD SWAT sergeant, died, she’s also got a few killer secrets.

To cope, Ruby has been trying to stay focused on school (the top spot in her class is on the line) and spending time with friends (her Jimmy Choos and Manolo Blahniks are nothing if not loyal). But after six months of therapy and pathetic parenting by her mom, the District Attorney, Ruby decides to pick up where her dad left off and starts going after the bad guys herself.

When Ruby ends up killing a murderer to save his intended victim, she discovers that she’s gone from being the huntress to the hunted. There’s a sick mastermind at play, and he has Ruby in his sights. Ruby must discover who’s using her to implement twisted justice before she ends up swapping Valentino red for prison orange.

With a gun named Smith, a talent for martial arts, and a boyfriend with eyes to die for, Ruby is ready to face the worst. And if a girl’s forced to kill, won’t the guilt sit more easily in a pair of Prada peep-toe pumps?

My Thoughts: Chick lit-y voice that adds fun and lightness to an otherwise grim suspense.

 

All right, hit me with your best crime thriller book recs (don’t LITERALLY hit me with anything, I bruise easily)! I’m hungry for more (except eyeballs. I don’t do eyeballs.)

Stay sane.

xo~

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Manic Monday: Literary Weddings

Engagement

via Buzzfeed

Dear Reader,

We at the YA Club love books. And if you’re here, you most likely do as well. Books bring stories to life, allowing us a place to escape, lead adventures, fall in love, lead revolutions, and cry when loved ones are lost. They mean more to us that characters on a page. They stay in our heart long after “The End.” And when books play such an important part in our lives, many of us feel compelled to bring literature into one of the biggest events of our lives: marriage.

It’s one of those things a lot of little girls (and boys, too!) dream of. From the dress to the venue, the flowers and the invitations. And since books create such a gorgeous backdrop for a wedding, I couldn’t help but think I might go a bit Manic this Monday and share some of my favorite photos of bookish weddings.

 

Centerpiece

This would make a gorgeous centerpiece. via Kim Le Photography

ring

Of course you’ll need a ring bearer, so why not place them inside a book? And not just any book, but with a heart cut out of the middle? via A Hand Crafted Wedding

save the date

I LOVE this Save the Date! via Buzzfeed

Typewriter

An entrance table wouldn’t be complete without a typewriter. And you could even use it as a guestbook, where your guests type their names. via WeddingChicks

mobile

A gorgeous book mobile. via Etsy

 

 

table runner

A table runner to not only keep your table within the theme, but to also entertain guests when they finish eating! via Caroline Frost Photography

cake

And who could forget the cake? via RuffledBlog

And when all is said and done…

Thank-you-Book

…the perfect thank you. via Intimate Weddings

I’m wishing I could go back and do my wedding all over again! There’s just something so romantic about a literary themed wedding, don’t you agree?

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Manic Monday: Mini-Reviews of Books I’ve Read

ManicMonday

I’ll just get right to it because it’s Monday, and in 2 days time, school starts for my kiddos. Which means, the crazy-busy days are here! Wish me luck…

1. INLAND by Kat Rosenfield

18667909Callie Morgan has long lived choked by the failure of her own lungs, the result of an elusive pulmonary illness that has plagued her since childhood. A childhood marked early by the drowning death of her mother—a death to which Callie was the sole witness. Her father has moved them inland, away from the memories of the California coast her mother loved so much and toward promises of recovery—and the escape of denial—in arid, landlocked air.

But after years of running away, the promise of a life-changing job for her father brings Callie and him back to the coast, to Florida, where Callie’s symptoms miraculously disappear. For once, life seems delightfully normal. But the ocean’s edge offers more than healing air … it holds a magnetic pull, drawing Callie closer and closer to the chilly, watery embrace that claimed her mother. Returned to the ocean, Callie comes of age and comes into a family destiny that holds generations of secrets and very few happy endings.

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I absolutely loved this read! Beautiful, sensorial writing and hauntingly creepy atmosphere. There’s a paranormal/magical realism bent to it, but at the same time it can also lean toward psychological thriller with the mention of a mental health issue. I love books with unreliable narrators. 

 

2. THE SUMMER I FOUND YOU by Jolene Perry

18378839All they have in common is that they’re less than perfect. And all they’re looking for is the perfect distraction.

Kate’s dream boyfriend has just broken up with her and she’s still reeling from her diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. Aidan planned on being a lifer in the army and went to Afghanistan straight out of high school. Now he’s a disabled young veteran struggling to embrace his new life. When Kate and Aidan find each other neither one wants to get attached. But could they be right for each other after all?

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Sweet and charming. I liked how the characters are flawed and dealing with specific challenges–Kate with her diabetes, and Aidan with disability. Kate and Aidan are perfect together; they complement each other really well. A fun summer read!

 

3. JELLICOE ROAD by Melina Marchetta

7891257I’m dreaming of the boy in the tree. I tell him stories. About the Jellicoe School and the Townies and the Cadets from a school in Sydney. I tell him about the war between us for territory. And I tell him about Hannah, who lives in the unfinished house by the river. Hannah, who is too young to be hiding away from the world. Hannah, who found me on the Jellicoe Road six years ago.

Taylor is leader of the boarders at the Jellicoe School. She has to keep the upper hand in the territory wars and deal with Jonah Griggs – the enigmatic leader of the cadets, and someone she thought she would never see again.

And now Hannah, the person Taylor had come to rely on, has disappeared. Taylor’s only clue is a manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe eighteen years ago. She needs to find out more, but this means confronting her own story, making sense of her strange, recurring dream, and finding her mother – who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road.
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Run, do not walk, to get this book. And make sure you have a box of Kleenex next to you while reading. This is so heartbreaking but also heartwarming, beautiful and poignant. I love this so much.

 

4. INFINITE SEA (Book #2 of The Fifth Wave) by Rick Yancey

16131484How do you rid the Earth of seven billion humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.

Surviving the first four waves was nearly impossible. Now Cassie Sullivan finds herself in a new world, a world in which the fundamental trust that binds us together is gone. As the 5th Wave rolls across the landscape, Cassie, Ben, and Ringer are forced to confront the Others’ ultimate goal: the extermination of the human race.

Cassie and her friends haven’t seen the depths to which the Others will sink, nor have the Others seen the heights to which humanity will rise, in the ultimate battle between life and death, hope and despair, love and hate.

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One word (or should I say, name): RINGER! She’s my fave character in this series. And she definitely delivers in the second book. I like the multiple POVs.  I also like how nothing’s black or white–there’s always a moral dilemma present, even when faced with the enemy. Because it’s no longer a question of whether who’s going to win this war, it’s a question of how long they can hold on to their humanity.

 

Share with us your book recs and current reads!

Have a great week, lovelies!

xo~

precy2

 

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Manic Monday: Recent Reads

I love summer because not only do you get to go swimming, visit new places, eat tons of ice cream… (we all eat tons of ice cream, right? I’m not the only one?) But I also love summer because it gives me a chance to catch up on my TBR list.

While I didn’t get a chance to read *as much* as I’d hoped to, I did read several fabulous books I MUST tell y’all about. All 5 Star, great plots, wonderful characters, and just really amazing books you should add to *your* TBR list.

WrathandDawn

 

THE WRATH AND THE DAWN

This is for all you romance lovers <3 A brilliant retelling of A Thousand and One Nights, Shahrzad volunteers to be the next wife of the murderous boy-king with the intention of getting revenge for her cousin, one of his many murders. But the king surprises the reader along with other characters from Shazi’s past that come into play. Favorite part? Probably the incredibly detailed setting. Gorgeous.

 

 

 

Lois Lane

 

 

LOIS LANE: FALLOUT

A fun read, definitely more geared to the younger YA audience. Lois is a smart heroine with a Veronica Mars-esque determination to seek justice. She takes on the bullies when no one else will. An interesting computer gaming plot that’s, let’s say not a high-tension hook as most YA nowadays. And the sneak peaks of “Smallville Guy” are adorbs.

 

 

 

FixerTHE FIXER

Speaking of Veronica Mars, if you like thrillers, YOU NEED TO READ THIS. I absolutely LOVED this book. Tess goes to live with her older sister in D.C., but comes to find out that her sister is a “fixer.” She fixes peoples problems. Whatever it takes to make them go away. And Tess ends up becoming a fixer in her own right when she starts at her new high school. But Tess’s world and her sister’s get mixed up and Tess is caught in the middle, trying to find out what her sister is hiding from her and why someone is now targeting Tess. If you like SCANDAL, this is for you. Great mystery that had me turning the pages, heart-thumping to the end.

 

 

EmberAN EMBER IN THE ASHES

FAVORITE BOOK that I’ve read this summer. UGH I need to reread it already because I just loved it so. It’s a fantasy setting, but there’s a sense of dystopian about it. (If the word dystopian sends you running, don’t go just yet!) What about the word… Harry Potter? Let me explain: Laia is a slave who is sent in to spy on the commandant of the military school. Elias is a student trained to be one of the worst types of killers. Then a prophecy is made so that Elias and three other students at the school will compete to become the next emperor. (<- think Twi-wizard tournament, just a little more… deadly.) And our villain that Laia is spying on? She’s like Dolores Umbridge, all petite and unassuming, but she’s been known to gouge out eyes and brand her slaves when they so much as spill a tea cup. One of the best villains and I can’t seem to get this book out of my head. So yeah.EXCELLENT characters, a wonderful plot, an exciting ancient Rome-inspired setting. Rebels. It just has everything and I can’t praise it enough. If you decide to read just one of these books, you should seriously consider this. I can’t wait for the next in the series.

 

And those were my favorite reads this summer! (Oh, and A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES, but y’all should know that by now, right? Right?) Any good books you’ve read lately? Let me know!

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Manic Monday: Mini-Reviews of Recent Reads

ManicMonday

As of today, I have read 121 books since January 2015.

Yes, no lie.

*bows to your applause* (I think this is one of those times it’s okay to brag about winning something because BOOKS! And READING!)

So. Books, and lots of them. If you’re looking for a book rec, you’ve come to the right place.

  • KILLING RUBY ROSE by Jessie Humphries (YA Crime Fiction)

20687064In sunny Southern California, seventeen-year-old Ruby Rose is known for her killer looks and her killer SAT scores. But ever since her dad, an LAPD SWAT sergeant, died, she’s also got a few killer secrets.

To cope, Ruby has been trying to stay focused on school (the top spot in her class is on the line) and spending time with friends (her Jimmy Choos and Manolo Blahniks are nothing if not loyal). But after six months of therapy and pathetic parenting by her mom, the District Attorney, Ruby decides to pick up where her dad left off and starts going after the bad guys herself.

When Ruby ends up killing a murderer to save his intended victim, she discovers that she’s gone from being the huntress to the hunted. There’s a sick mastermind at play, and he has Ruby in his sights. Ruby must discover who’s using her to implement twisted justice before she ends up swapping Valentino red for prison orange.

With a gun named Smith, a talent for martial arts, and a boyfriend with eyes to die for, Ruby is ready to face the worst. And if a girl’s forced to kill, won’t the guilt sit more easily in a pair of Prada peep-toe pumps?

add to goodreads

This was such a fun–though at times dark–YA detective novel (ala Veronica Mars). SWAT-trained Ruby Rose doesn’t ditch her girly side (she loooves shoes!) as she tries to dig up old secrets and uncover who’s trying to set her up to kill the bad guys. Lots of twists. I loved Ruby Rose, but I didn’t like her mom or her bestfriend. The LI (Love Interest) Liam is cute as heck, too. Pick this up if you like fast-paced crime thrillers with a chick-lit-y voice.

 

  • THE HALF LIFE OF MOLLY PIERCE by Katrina Leno (YA Contemporary/Psychological Thriller)

18698816For all of her seventeen years, Molly feels like she’s missed bits and pieces of her life. Now, she’s figuring out why. Now, she’s remembering her own secrets. And in doing so, Molly uncovers the separate life she seems to have led…and the love that she can’t let go.

The Half Life of Molly Pierce is a suspenseful, evocative psychological mystery about uncovering the secrets of our pasts, facing the unknowns of our futures, and accepting our whole selves.

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If you like books where the narrator doesn’t know what’s going on at first, but as events unfold and the main character begins to discover things about themselves (and you’re discovering these secrets along with them, too), then this one’s for you. Probably a frustrating read for those who doesn’t like to be in the dark for the first half of the book. Definitely an interesting read that’ll have you turning pages as quickly as you can.

 

  • LOOKING FOR ALASKA by John Green (YA Contemporary)

99561Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (François Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

After. Nothing is ever the same.

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Me reading this about halfway: What?!? NOOOOOOO!

Me after reading this: *clutches book to chest* *sobs*

  • CATALYST by Laurie Halse Anderson (YA Contemporary)

18166354Meet Kate Malone-straight-A science and math geek, minister’s daughter, ace long-distance runner, new girlfriend (to Mitchell “Early Decision Harvard” Pangborn III), unwilling family caretaker, and emotional avoidance champion. Kate manages her life by organizing it as logically as the periodic table. She can handle it all-or so she thinks. Then, things change as suddenly as a string of chemical reactions; first, the Malones’ neighbors get burned out of their own home and move in. Kate has to share her room with her nemesis, Teri Litch, and Teri’s little brother. The days are ticking down and she’s still waiting to hear from the only college she applied to: MIT. Kate feels that her life is spinning out of her control-and then, something happens that truly blows it all apart. Set in the same community as the remarkable Speak, Catalyst is a novel that will change the way you look at the world.

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Ohmigosh, another book that turned me into a weepy mess.

 

  • RED QUEEN by Victoria Aveyard (YA Fantasy)

17878931Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood—those with red and those with silver. Mare and her family are lowly Reds, destined to serve the Silver elite whose supernatural abilities make them nearly gods. Mare steals what she can to help her family survive, but when her best friend is conscripted into the army she gambles everything to win his freedom. A twist of fate leads her to the royal palace itself, where, in front of the king and all his nobles, she discovers a power of her own—an ability she didn’t know she had. Except…her blood is Red.

To hide this impossibility, the king forces her into the role of a lost Silver princess and betrothes her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks her new position to aid the Scarlet Guard—the leaders of a Red rebellion. Her actions put into motion a deadly and violent dance, pitting prince against prince—and Mare against her own heart.

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Now I understand the hype that came with this book’s publication. It’s like X-Men but with royalty drama–who can resist that, eh? I did spot the betrayal a mile away. Still, I enjoyed this read. I always like rooting for the underdog-turned-topdog, and Mare is a great MC who has a lot to lose, but also a lot to gain.

 

  • THE WALLS AROUND US by Nova Ren Suma (YA Paranormal/Magical Realism)

On the outside, there’s Violet, an eighteen-year-old dancer days away from the life of her dreams when something threatens to expose the shocking truth of her achievement.

On the inside, within the walls of the Aurora Hills juvenile detention center, there’s Amber, locked up for so long she can’t imagine freedom.

Tying their two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls’ darkest mysteries…

What really happened on the night Orianna stepped between Violet and her tormentors? What really happened on two strange nights at Aurora Hills? Will Amber and Violet and Orianna ever get the justice they deserve—in this life or in another one?

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This book = mindblown. I’m still not sure what happened at the end of this story. Hm. Nevertheless, I devoured this book and its beautiful prose. Ballerinas…no, make that twisted, murderous ballerinas + a juvenile detention facility for violent teen girls. Lots of secrets. An injustice. It all makes for a gripping read.

  • SKINNY by Donna Cooner (YA Contemporary)

11958583Find your voice.

Hopeless. Freak. Elephant. Pitiful. These are the words of Skinny, the vicious voice that lives inside fifteen-year-old Ever Davies’s head. Skinny tells Ever all the dark thoughts her classmates have about her. Ever knows she weighs over three hundred pounds, knows she’ll probably never be loved, and Skinny makes sure she never forgets it.

But there is another voice: Ever’s singing voice, which is beautiful but has been silenced by Skinny. Partly in the hopes of trying out for the school musical—and partly to try and save her own life—Ever decides to undergo a risky surgery that may help her lose weight and start over.

With the support of her best friend, Ever begins the uphill battle toward change. But demons, she finds, are not so easy to shake, not even as she sheds pounds. Because Skinny is still around. And Ever will have to confront that voice before she can truly find her own.

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Got this book during a library sale, and boy, I was glad I did. Ever undergoes gastric bypass surgery to help her lose weight. I really liked Ever, and how the detrimental voice in her head, Skinny, contribute to her low self-esteem. This is a story about overcoming Skinny (who exists in our own heads, I’m sure) and learning to love who you are.

  • NOW THAT YOU’RE HERE by Amy K. Nichols (YA Sci-Fi)

NowThatYoureHereDuplexityPartIbyAmyKNicholsIn a parallel universe, the classic bad boy falls for the class science geek.

One minute Danny was running from the cops, and the next, he jolted awake in an unfamiliar body – his own, but different. Somehow, he’s crossed into a parallel universe. Now his friends are his enemies, his parents are long dead, and studious Eevee is not the mysterious femme fatale he once kissed back home. Then again, this Eevee – a girl who’d rather land an internship at NASA than a date to the prom–may be his only hope of getting home.

Eevee tells herself she’s only helping him in the name of quantum physics, but there’s something undeniably fascinating about this boy from another dimension… a boy who makes her question who she is, and who she might be in another place and time.

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A twisty, parallel worlds sci-fi story that I really enjoyed. I love the science part of this–parallel worlds are so fascinating to me–and I love the romance part of the book (Yay Danny and Eevee!). I’m definitely picking up book 2 because the way this one ended broke my heart (in a good way).

 

There you go! Hope my mini-reviews will inspire you to pick up some of these books and add them to your reading list.

Have a lovely Monday!

xo~

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