#BookReview : Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust #GirlSerpentThorn @HodderBooks

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
Expected publication : July 7th 2020
Publisher : Flatiron Books
Genre : Fantasy
Pages : 336

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse…

There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.

*** Note: I received e-copy of this book via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to publisher. ***

Girl, Serpent, Thorn was amazing fantasy based on Persian mythology that revolved around cursed princess and her efforts of trying to free herself from curse. It was about good vs evil, choices and its consequences, accepting flaws than fearing it, finding beauty in imperfections, family, loyalty, love, and betrayal.

Writing was flawless, compelling and magical. It was written in third person narrative told from Soraya’s perspective. There was fabulous world building, interesting and mysterious character and gradual character development with a little bit romance.

Stories always begin the same way: There was and there was not. There is possibility in those words, the chance for hope or despair.


As soon as I started reading this book, I knew I’m going to like this. The beginning was fantastic. A mother telling her daughter a story about a girl how she was cursed by a demon and birthed a princess with poison in her blood, a curse, whoever she touch will die. But it was not just story but reality of Soraya. Approaching marriage of her brother, a demon imprisoned in dungeon who might help in finding answers about her curse, and a boy who was not afraid of her curse, ready to help and understood her more than her family, put her in situation she never imagined she would found herself in and couldn’t come out of it without putting her family in danger. Her one question started a untoward chain reaction. It was interesting find out who was that boy, if demon will help her or not, how she would free herself from curse and save her family.

I loved this concept of girl alone in her room and garden craving for touch and love, deceived by a demon and found help from another demon to right the wrong she did, and save her family. Cover and title was perfect and made more sense after reading the book.

Lot of things happened in first half that described world, Soraya’s story, about her family and Golvahar, lies she discovered and range of emotions she felt in trying to get rid of her curse. Some things I could see coming like- Demon in prison was mysterious, she was keeping some secrets but I could see spark of relationship between them which we don’t see igniting until second half of the book. And mainly I knew, that new boy looked too good to be true. Something was off about him, no matter how convenient he sounded, and I feared for Soraya. I knew she was putting her faith in wrong place but I was curious to see what that boy wanted and when he would show his true color. When he did, I must say I was surprised. I didn’t expect what was revealed and I was not sure what would happen next. Second half was all about Soraya’s development, her conflicts, knowing love for first time, and many twists and turns.

Soraya was great. Usually when heroine shows weakness and self-doubt in half of the book, I get frustrated but here it felt right and real. Even though she was most powerful in realm, most deadly person, she felt low and fearful. She didn’t see her curse as untouchable power but a poison, and she feared for herself, for her family and people who might come near her. Her fear made her weak, small, and yielding. But hope of getting rid of this poison, crave for human touch, companionship, happiness and her family’s love was too strong that made her want to change that about her. When she faced worst consequences of her wish and choices, we see how misguided she was. I felt for her at this point. I couldn’t help but put myself in her situation and from what she discovered, her actions made sense. Her intentions were selfish but felt genuine. I loved the way she learned her lessons, kept fighting for her family even though she heard worst things from them for her mistakes, and how she found a way to make things right. Her guilt, anger, self-doubt, determination, a new experience of touch and love, it was all written perfectly.

“I’m not afraid of you,” Soraya whispered. Parvaneh’s eyes sparkled, not with usual mockery, but with something like hunger. “Of course not,” Pervaneh said. “You could kill me with a single touch. Why should you ever be afraid of anyone?” She peered closed, tilting her head. “No, it’s only yourself that you fear.”

All secondary characters specially Azad and Parvaneh were interesting and mysterious. I couldn’t tell whom should I trust and whom should not until second half of the book. They were all keeping secrets, told lies and will betray to achieve what they wanted.

World was best part of the book. All elements were well explored. There were maze of secret passages of Golvahar palace and Soraya’s beautiful rose garden, Persian terminology, different types of demons, their appearance and power, legends and stories, mythical creature, and spellbinding forest and mountain of demons. It was fascinating to read how author created world inspired by ancient Persia and its folklore. It all made more sense in author’s note.

F/F relationship was lovely in second half. It was for a short while but worked as breather in this tense and fast paced plot. Trust issues along with tension to save family made it interesting to see how they will confess their feelings to each other and when that moment came, I couldn’t help but smile ear to ear.

Climax was brilliant. With a surprising discovery, an emotional twist, and tense situation that left me without any hope. Even one last effort by Soraya didn’t work but then that magical effect and all that happened till the end was amazingly thrilling and exhilarating. End was perfect. My only complaint was I didn’t want it to end. I want more stories in this world.

Overall,

Girl, Serpent, Thorn was fast pace and fabulous #fantasy with magical world based on #PersianMythology, and mysterious and interesting characters.

Books Links : Goodreads Amazon

Affiliate Link : Book Depository


I hope you enjoyed this post. Let me know in comments what do you think about my review and this book, if you have read it already or are you going to add it to TBR. Which different mythologies have you read in books so far?

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#BookBlitz #Excerpt : Warbringer by Aaron Hodges #Warbringer @rararesources

Hello Readers! I’m excited to be part of Blitz tour for Warbringer by Aaron Hodges, organised by  Rachel’s Random Resources. Read more about this epic fantasy and excerpt in this post.

Warbringer by Aaron Hodges
 Book 1 of The Descendants of the Fall series
Publication Date: 27th March 2020
Genre: Epic Fantasy

Synopsis

Centuries ago, the world fell.
From the ashes rose a terrible new species—the Tangata.
Now they wage war against the kingdoms of man.
And humanity is losing.


Recruited straight from his academy, twenty-year-old Lukys hopes the frontier will make a soldier out of him. But Tangata are massing in the south, and the allied armies are desperate. They will do anything to halt the enemy advance—including sending untrained men and women into battle. Determined to survive, Lukys seeks aid from the only man who seems to care: Romaine, the last warrior of an extinct kingdom.

Meanwhile, the Queen’s Archivist leads an expedition deep beneath the earth. She seeks to uncover the secrets of the Gods. Their magic has been lost to the ages, yet artifacts remain, objects of power that could turn the tide of the war. But salvation is not all that waits beneath the surface. Something else slumbers in the darkness. Something old. Something evil.

Excerpt

Chapter 4 – The Recruit

Lukys’s legs burned as he made his slow way up the slope. The weight of his pack and chainmail vest dragged him back but he kept on, teeth clenched, eyes fixed on the ground two yards ahead of his feet. Grunts came from the other Perfugian recruits walking around him, though little was said. After a week of hard marching, few could spare the breath for idle words.

On more than a few occasions, Lukys had wondered whether he could keep on. The way had been a brutal series of mountains, valleys and river crossings, with each night spent camped in the open, with only the canvas tents they carried on their backs for shelter. Exhaustion weighed on his shoulders; he had not enjoyed a good night’s sleep since the voyage from Ashura. If only the ship had carried them further south, the march to the frontier could have been completed in a day.

Instead it had deposited them on the docks of Mildeth, the Flumeeren capital, leaving them to walk most of the way. Apparently, the galley was needed for more important tasks, such as ferrying the famous Flumeeren spices back to Ashura.

Many of the recruits felt affronted at the idea, but Lukys’s childhood had been filled with hardships far worse than a cross-country march. His parents had been nobodies. That wasn’t meant to matter in Perfugia. Children were taken from their families at eight and enrolled at the national academy, so that none would be privileged above others.

But even at the academy, the division had been clear. His dormitory had been old and crowded; the newest facilities given to the noble born. And so had passed his twelve years of study. He was glad to be rid of the place.

Now, at last, he would have a chance to prove himself.

It had come as a surprise when they’d named him. The Perfugian army was renown throughout the four kingdoms; it was a rare honour to serve in its ranks. Lukys’s hopes had been for a position as a scribe or doctor, though he’d struggled with both in his final examinations.

But a soldier? He hadn’t dared dream of such an assignment.

Noticing the slope lessening beneath his boots, Lukys finally glanced up. A sigh escaped him as he saw the top of the hill was close. Several recruits and the officers on their horses were already waiting there. His fellows were taking the opportunity to sit and rest their legs, while the officers talked softly amongst themselves.

Coming to a stop alongside the others, Lukys leaned against his spear with a groan, then drew out his waterskin and took a swig. The path up the hill had been dry and it felt good to wash the dust from his mouth. Laughter came from the nearby recruits as they looked in his direction.

“Finally made it, peasant?”

A scowl twisted Lukys’s lips but he kept his mouth shut. The group were made up of some of the higher born from the academy, men and women who at various points over the last ten years had made his life difficult. He was used to their taunts, though he’d hoped they might have ceased now that they’d all been named professional soldiers.

“I hope we get to march into Calafe,” one of them, Dale, was saying to the others. “Let’s see how tough the Tangata are when they come up against Perfugian steel!”

The others cheered and clapped his back. The officers on their horses ignored the noise, though the recruits had been instructed to keep quiet as they neared the frontier. If the maps were to be believed, they were close now…

Putting away his waterskin, Lukys moved past the officers. The remaining recruits were still filing up the hillside. Several of the stragglers were at least ten minutes behind; he had time to look around.

The terrain ahead was greener than what they’d just climbed. Trees spotted the rolling hills, though they could not compare to the untouched forests of northern Perfugia. Then Lukys frowned as he noticed a blackened strip of land. Further down the hill, the forest had been burnt, leaving bare earth stretching all the way to the broad waters of a river.

A river…

The Illmoor!

His heart quickened as he scanned the banks of the famous river, searching, seeking, there!

Nestled in a bend of the Illmoor was a town—Fogmore. A grin stretched his cheeks as he looked upon the end of their long journey. It faded, however, as his eyes lingered on the town. The stockade walls were tiny, and many of the buildings he could see looked to be made of wood. In Perfugia, even the poorest of villages were constructed of stone, built to last, to endure the wild storms that often bashed the island kingdom’s coast. Wood was only ever used as decoration.

He supposed it was all a farming nation like Flumeer could afford on such a distant frontier. Even so, his stomach twisted at the thought of sleeping in such a matchbox—what would they do if a fire swept through the sprawling buildings?

And why had they burnt the forest?

Purchase Links:

UK –  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08653PM1L/

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08653PM1L/

Author Bio:

Aaron Hodges was born in 1989 in the small town of Whakatane, New Zealand. He studied for five years at the University of Auckland, completing a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and Geography, and a Masters of Environmental Engineering. After working as an environmental consultant for two years, he grew tired of office work and decided to quit his job and explore the world. During his travels he picked up an old draft of a novel he once wrote in High School (titled The Sword of Light) and began to rewrite the story. Six months later he published his first novel, Stormwielder, and hasn’t looked back since.

Website | Facebook


hope you enjoyed reading this post. Let me know in comments what do you think about this book, if you have read any book by the same author.

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Monthly Wrap-Up : June 2020

Hello Readers! This month felt long with many sleepless night and some frustrating WiFi issues with my slow laptop and mobile data. I so need new laptop and I hope sale arrives soon. COVID-19 positivity rate is high in Hyderabad and they are talking of another lock down in few days. Hospitals don’t have ventilators and oxygen cylinders. My husband fears if something happened to us we wouldn’t get treatment here and thinking we should fly back to our hometown at my parents’ home. There too cases are more and but at least we have doctors in family. We haven’t decided anything yet but if we are going we will leave in first week of August and will return, maybe, in Dec. And if not, still we will visit our hometown but in Nov and come back after Christmas.

Reading stats:

Books Read : 9 (Actually 9.75! Still need to read last 100 pages of Cometh the hour)
Pages Read : 3018
Reviews written : 8

Blog Stats:

Views : 2734
visitors : 1419
Likes : 1238
Comments : 213

Books Read:

Love is What You Bake of it (Meraki #1) by Effie Kammenou — [Review] ★★★★★ / / Romance / / entertaining and heart warning love story with beautiful setting, interesting characters and lots of mouthwatering confection.

No Signal (iMe, #2) by Jem Tugwell — [Review] ★★★★★ / / Dystopia, futuristic sci-fi / / brilliant, thought provoking, and impressive sci-fi thriller with realistic characters and intimidating world.

Any Day With You by Mae Respicio — [Review] ★★★★★ / / Middle Grade / / heartwarming, charming, lovely, and a perfect middle grade story with multigenerational Filipino family and culture.

Episodic Sleep Disorders by E.L. Haines — [Review] ★★★★☆ / / Mystery / / quick, intriguing, dark mystery with vivid description and eerie setting. I recommend this book to fans of short stories.

From the Shadows (Monica Kennedy #1) by G.R. Halliday — [Review] ★★★★☆ / / Crime Fiction / / compelling, dark and interesting Scottish Noir with many twist and turns. 

The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner — [Review] ★★★★★ / / Historical Fiction / / simple yet beautiful, lovely and refreshing historical fiction with amazing characters and setting.

Say Yes Summer by Lindsey Roth Culli — [Review] ★★★★☆ / / YA Contemporary / / fluffy, feel good, enjoyable, cute and coming of age YA contemporary with lovable characters.

Ghosts of Harvard by Francesca Serritella — [Review] ★★★★★ / / Mystery / / deep, impactful, powerful, and thought-provoking mystery with great characters, philosophical writing and eye-opening history, and honest and raw representation of grief, loss and mental illness.

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust / / Fantasy / / Amazing world building based on Persian mythology and interesting characters.

My Favorite books of the month:

In July I’m going to read 5 another NetGalley books and 4 books for tour.


I hope you enjoyed this post. Let me know in comments if you have read any of these book and which was your favorite book of the month.

Happy Reading!

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#CoverReveal : Sit With Me While I’m Mad by Milly Thiringer @FillesVertesPub @millythiringer #nonfiction #mentalhealth

Hello readers! Filles Vertes Publishing is presenting a new stunning cover for Sit With Me While I’m Mad by Milly Thiringer, and I’m pleased to be part of this cover reveal. Check out beautiful cover of this nonfiction book and excerpt in this post.

Book Title : Sit With Me While I’m Mad
Author : Milly Thiringer
Publisher : Filles Vertes Publishing
Genre : Non Fiction / Mental Health / schizophrenia

Synopsis:

“There are sensors in my hands and cameras in my walls. I’m sure of it.” But when Milly Thiringer mentioned this to her friends, the only thing they were sure of was that she needed to see a doctor.

Diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia at age nineteen, Milly spent years running circles through the revolving door of the public mental healthcare system, being told to focus on symptom management and coping strategies as no significant improvement in her prognosis could be expected.

She almost gave up. Almost. Along the way Milly’s learned to be her own advocate while fighting through and redefining “recovery.

Cover Designer: Jena R. Collins/JRC Designs

Excerpt:

Definitions: Nominal, or Real?

The ways that we define things inform our responses to them.

When I was diagnosed with schizophrenia, I clung to the words—the label “paranoid schizophrenia”—like a string of solar lights along a footpath to home. My mom, when she was teaching me to drive, told me to focus on the white line on the right-hand side of the road if the oncoming headlights threatened to disorient me. Schizophrenia was my white line. If we treat the disease, I can be well. I can be normal. My symptoms will go away.

As I sit here writing this, on my couch, seventeen years later, I can hear every creak in my house. I take an imaginary walk, past the rattling forks in the dishwasher, through the scratching of my pen on this page, around the popping joints of my daughter’s cradle. I whip through her asthmatic lungs that worry me so well, flit through the frustrated wings of a June bug attempting to escape my bedroom window, and I rest on the buzzing filament of a burning-out light bulb in my bathroom. And do you know what I hear?

“Can I be NOT here?” chhh…. Toowit-tawoo-chhh… The dishwasher is speaking to me and I am on the very edge of making it out. It converses with itself, deciding which details to share with me. President Obama (who is not now the president) has changed our national anthem. I hear this on the radio as well. The radio is turned off. “You are a terrible artist,” Sam says from his perch on the arm of the couch. “Look at those drawings. Disgusting.” My husband, sitting beside me on the couch, separates his upper half from itself and leans in to whisper frightening things in my left ear.

I look over. His mouth is closed. He is unified, not wavering and echoing like an apparition. He looks at me. Smiles. Tells me something interesting about the cycling app on his tablet. I look to my right and Sam is still on the edge of the couch; his taunting eyes make me shrink. He looks as solid as Dave.

I can, in the moment, tell what is real and what is not. I can’t do this in every moment, but right now, I can. The Worm of Paranoia on my spine is asleep, and I hallucinate peacefully. When he is awake, I cannot tell which aspects of my experience deserve fear and which do not. In these moments, I wear my terror like a choking cloak.

Add to Goodreads

Author Bio:

Diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia at the age of nineteen, Milly’s life has consisted of many and varied attempts to locate reality in the midst of psychosis. She navigates her mental illness with as much honesty as she knows how and tries to remember that no label can define her p personhood. Milly writes to find out who she is, because she’s pretty sure she’s been told wrong.

Milly works as a paralegal and a freelance editor, trying to squeeze in time to write around contract work and raising kids. Her work has appeared in Awakened Voices, OC87 Recovery Diaries, and she is a contributor to The Mighty. Her essay, “The Third Plane,” will be published in a forthcoming anthology on parenting with mental illness called, How the Light Gets In, and she is making slow but sure progress on her first novel.

Milly lives with her family on a rural prairie in North Idaho, where the tumbleweeds are as big as her minivan and ice cream cones are still a quarter.

Author Social Media :

Facebook: @millythiringer
Twitter: @millythiringer
Website: www.millythiringer.com

Pre-order link.- https://www.fillesvertespublishing.com/product/sit-with-me/


I hope you liked reading this post. Let me know in comments what do you think about the cover and book or if you are going to add it to TBR.

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#BookReview : Say Yes Summer by Lindsey Roth Culli @PRHGlobal #SayYesSummer #YA #Contemporary

Say Yes Summer by Lindsey Roth Culli
Publication Date : May 12th 2020
Publisher : Delacorte Press
Genre : YA Contemporary
Pages : 256

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Perfect for fans of Morgan Matson and Netflix/Hallmark Channel rom-coms, this is the story of a girl who decides to give in to the universe and just say yes to everything, bringing her friendship, new experiences, and, if she lets her guard down, true love.

The perfect book to kick off summer! For as long as Rachel Brooks can remember, she’s had capital-G Goals: straight As, academic scholarship, college of her dreams. And it’s all paid off–after years of following the rules and acing every exam, Rachel is graduating at the top of her class and ready to celebrate by . . . doing absolutely nothing. Because Rachel Brooks has spent most of high school saying no. No to dances, no to parties, and most especially, no to boys.

Now, for the first time in her life, there’s nothing stopping Rachel from having a little fun–nothing, that is, except herself. So when she stumbles on a beat up old self-help book–A SEASON OF YES!–a crazy idea pops into her head: What if she just said yes to . . . everything?

And so begins a summer of yes. Yes to new experiences and big mistakes, yes to rekindled friendships and unexpected romances, yes to seeing the world in a whole new way. This book is a fresh and fun take on the coming-of-age novel that explores the quintessential themes of growing up: taking risks, making mistakes, and, of course, love. And who knows? Lindsey Roth Culli’s hilarious and heartwarming debut may just inspire your own SAY YES SUMMER. 

*** Note: I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to PRHGlobal for free copy. ***

Say Yes Summer was cute and fluffy YA Contemporary, a coming of age story of Rachel and her summer of saying yes to everything. It was about pros and cons of saying Yes or No that comes with opportunity cost, experiencing the world for the first time, friendship, family, and love.

Writing was simple, easy, and entertaining. It was super-fast paced, I finished this book within a day, which rarely happens with me.  It was first person narrative from Rachel’s perspective that made me understand her feelings and how she was seeing the world and experienced her summer adventure. Setting of Michigan and all beautiful touristy beach, Kalamazoo lake, Lake Michigan, Mt Baldhead and Rachel’s parents’ new venture cream cart and ice-cream gondolas (yum yum) gave the story whole summery vibe.

Plot was simple that started with Rachel suddenly realizing she missed out so much in four years of high school by saying No to everything except studies. Now she felt nobody knew her, she successfully made herself invisible and boring and now she wanted to change that. When she found her grandma’s self-help book ‘The Freedom to Say Yes’, she got idea of saying yes to everything and fully enjoy this summer. In doing so, she experienced many good things but also messed up lot of things.

It was interesting to read how Rachel came out of her shell, overcame her fears, rekindled friendship, found lovers, learned many things specially what it’s like to be free and live out in real world. It was pretty simple plot, I knew how this was going to end but at the same time it was cute and lovely to read Rachel’s summer adventure.

“I think balance is the key to finding out what you really, actually want. Not just what you’re forcing yourself to say yes to.”

I loved all characters specially Rachel. She was smart, caring and lovely person. We see her thoughts towards her classmates and friends, how she saw them through their social media life and gossips she heard but not by knowing and interacting with them in real but as soon as she started interacting with them, she learned how wrong and judgmental she was, how much she blocked out reality and picturized them how she wanted to see them. It was bit weird to see she was observing Clayton so much that she could tell what was going on in his life but at the same time she literally didn’t know what Miles felt whom she knew in real for her whole life both in school and at job at her parents’ restaurant. She was wrong about lot of things and I liked how she realized that. Her development was best part in the book.

Clayton was popular guy, Westfield’s Soccer star and so very handsome but he was nothing like those famous boys who act like they own the world. He was lovely, kind, and gentle soul. Rachel thought he was perfect guy but in reality he was normal human who had his own issues. I loved him for being true and real all the time, even when Rachel messed things.

Miles was Rachel’s childhood friend and worked at her parent’s restaurant. He too was going through his own issue, trying to get over grief and loss. He was not bad. I knew he liked her. I felt for this guy and his reaction to both loss and feeling for Rachel was genuine but still I wasn’t completely at his side.

Carrie was my favorite secondary character. She was wise and smart and lovely girl. I liked the way she helped Rachel and how they sorted their problems. Bethany and Rouxi, her family and Nona were also great.

Love triangle and dating two boys at same time didn’t work that long. Romance and two-timing was wrapped pretty soon. But there were cute moments that made me smile and I liked how they knew each other better in this short relationships.

I liked message in the book given through Rachel’s development- not judging people based on what they show out to the world, even popular girls and boys have their problem and behind all their fame they are normal human being; it’s never easy for anyone to be out in the world and experiencing the real world and life; even best laid plans can go wrong; it’s okay and to mess things but important to not to hurt anyone’s feeling and make things right later; going out of comfort zone is good but also should stay true to yourself; and most importantly it’s okay to say NO.

“Every choice has embedded within it an opportunity cost. Saying yes isn’t free. When you said no to parties and to boys, you were saying yes to your family, and to your friends, and to your responsibilities. And sometimes that- learning when to say no and especially what to say no to- is just as important.”

Climax was filled with lots of drama with boys and then with family. But then Nonna’s wisdom made Rachel gather all courage and make things right by apologizing for her royal mess. End was lovely with packing, time with friends and surprise gift from family and Rachel finding her love.

Why 4 stars-

It’s not like I don’t like love triangle but what makes me not so inclined for love triangle stories is protagonist always going with a boy I don’t like as much as I like the other boy. And that’s what happened here! And another reason was, I have read/seen something like this before. It sounded a bit clichéd and predictable.

Overall,

Say Yes Summer was fluffy, feel good, enjoyable, cute and coming of age YA contemporary with lovable characters. I recommend this to fan of this genre.

Books Links : Goodreads | Amazon

Affiliate Link : Book Depository


I hope you enjoyed this post. Let me know in comments what do you think about my review and this book, if you have read it already or going to add to TBR. What are your favorite fluffy contemporaries?

Happy Reading!

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