Enchantée by Gita Trelease

 

Title: Enchantée

Author: Gita Trelease

Pages: 459

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Published: 2019

Source: ARC (Gifted by MyKindaBook, thanks!)

Rating: ★★★★


Paris in 1789 is a labyrinth of twisted streets, filled with beggars, thieves, revolutionaries—and magicians…

When smallpox kills her parents, Camille Durbonne must find a way to provide for her frail, naive sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on petty magic—la magie ordinaire—Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy the food and medicine they need. But when the coins won’t hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family’s savings, Camille must pursue a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

With dark magic forbidden by her mother, Camille transforms herself into the ‘Baroness de la Fontaine’ and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for la magie. There, she gambles at cards, desperate to have enough to keep herself and her sister safe. Yet the longer she stays at court, the more difficult it becomes to reconcile her resentment of the nobles with the enchantments of Versailles. And when she returns to Paris, Camille meets a handsome young balloonist—who dares her to hope that love and liberty may both be possible.

But la magie has its costs. And when Camille loses control of her secrets, the game she’s playing turns deadly. Then revolution erupts, and she must choose—love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, freedom or magic—before Paris burns…


I have been wanting to read Enchantée since I first heard of it and it was pretty much everything I had hoped for. It had magic, the glamour of court (or should I say, glamoire), a Parisian setting and a lovely romance. It also had a feature of Marie Antoinette, although she didn’t pop up very often.

The plot of Enchantée is simple to follow. Camille, her sister Sophie and brother Alain are orphans who are trying to survive. Camille is the only one of her family that is able to work la magie and so, in order to make money, she goes to Versailles to help her family out. There, she comes across trouble.

Camille is our main character who is very focussed on doing anything to ensure that neither herself or her sister, Sophie, fall into poverty and face a worse fate. Camille definitely grows in this book as she has to deal with her alcoholic and gambling brother Alain, but also the threat of being found out that she can work magic to her will at Versailles. Camille essentially lives a double life throughout this book, but as her confidence grows thanks to the ‘fake’ life she’s living, this affects her attitude throughout the book on both sides.

During Enchantee, we see the introduction of other characters including Lazare who is working on a hot air balloon with Rosier and Armand. Lazare is a character who is trying to hide his roots but needs to use his connections at the same time to aid him in his work. He is a fairly significant character in this book. Armand is a character who felt a little unnecessary as he didn’t really take to Camille and there was no real reason why. Rosier was a very happy character who was a whirlwind of positivity on the page.

Whilst Camille is living her double life at Versailles, she meets Chandon and Aurelie, two characters who turn out to be great friends to Camille. With the introduction of these two characters, I feel like this changed Camille’s attitude towards the elite class of society as at first, she sort of resents the upper classes but throughout the book, her outlook on the upper classes changes.

This book was set in Paris and Versailles. I enjoyed seeing the contrast between the two, particularly as I felt that they helped to separate between Camille’s real life and her fantasy life. I think that this helped to show the contrast between how the rich and poor lived in France at this time. I also think that this lent to the fact that it felt like there were almost two stories that were running side by side.

I enjoyed the magical element in this book and it was quite important to the plot and to Camille and her character development. As magic is essentially forbidden and Camille is forced to hide her abilities, this reminded me a little of the witch hunts that had taken place in Europe.

I was expecting to see more of the planning of the French Revolution and more of Marie Antoinette, but I don’t think this particularly made me rate the book any differently but I do think that it may have added to the book. I just felt that I went into the book expecting something slightly different but nevertheless, I still enjoyed Enchantee.

I thought the writing in this one was good. It was a good pace and I didn’t feel myself losing interest at all. I will admit that during the first 100-150 pages, I felt the pace was slow but it did pick up and flowed really nicely afterwards. The chapters were also a nice length – I personally find books with longer chapters slower to read but the chapters in this were a good length.

Final thoughts?

I would absolutely recommend this book! If you’re looking for a book full of magic, mystery set in the city of Paris with the glamoire of Versaille, look no further than this! I thought that Enchantee was a wonderful addition to the historical YA genre and I look forward to seeing what Gita writes next.

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Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

 

Title: Strange the Dreamer

Author: Laini Taylor

Pages: 532

Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton

Published: 2017

Source: Bought

Rating: ★★★★★


The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around – and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries – including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?


Strange the Dreamer was one of the best books I read in 2018 and is one the best books I’ve ever read just ever. I think that’s probably a good place to start with this review.

When trying to write this post, I really didn’t know where to start and I am sure that this review will continue to feel a little like that. I always find it more difficult to talk about books that I loved in comparison to talking about books I didn’t like so much. If I come across as incoherent or repetitive at any point, I apologise but talking about a book you love is just difficult. What more can I tell you other than I loved this book so much and I encourage you to read it immediately?

I have read the first two books from Laini’s Daughter of Blood and Bone series, and found that, for me, her books dropped off between the middle and end. Because of this, I have put off reading Strange the Dreamer. Not every book is different, I know, but I was really worried that the same thing would happen reading Strange. I was worried that I might fall in love with this book and then be disappointed when I got three quarters of the way through it. Thankfully, this wasn’t the case. The thing I reminded myself of before going into Strange the Dreamer is that the series is different and that authors do change and their writing styles continue to be worked on.

The plot of this book was interesting and enchanting. This book had a perfect mix of a world of normality and a hint of magic. Strange the Dreamer follows the main character Lazlo Strange as he journeys to the city of Weep. The city is in the shadows of a city made up of once great yet terrifying group of Gods. The Gods were slain but yet the city still remains and so the majority of this book follows the task of destroying the flying city that has haunted the citizens of Weep ever since it arrived.

Lazlo Strange was such an interesting character to follow. He was raised by monks but when we meet him, he is a junior librarian who dedicates his spare time to finding out as much as he can about Weep. Lazlo is a gentle and kind character who is unable to progress and become the Scholar he would like to be because of his background. Despite this, he didn’t let that stop him from going on a mission. On this journey, he discovers a lot about himself.

The other characters were complex and interesting. Whilst there were a few characters that I wasn’t so keen on, everyone did have a purpose and were involved in the plot. Sarai, who was the other main character in this book, was someone who you could sympathise with. She is hidden away from the rest of the world but desperately wants to live normally with the rest of the people. Although the Gods and the Godspawn are seen as monsters, Sarai’s PoV proved this point wrong.

The writing in this book was good in that I felt that it described everything well which enabled me to imagine every scene. It constantly kept me interested and made me want to read the book even when I couldn’t. I felt that Strange the Dreamer was written at a good pace that sped up at the necessary times during the story.

Final thoughts?

This was absolutely a 5 star read. I honestly enjoyed this book so much that after I finished it, I had to just take a moment to sit and think about it before I went back over the ending again. I am looking forward to reading Muse of Nightmares and diving back into this story with all the characters I loved in Strange the Dreamer.

 

Two Can Keep A Secret by Karen M. McManus

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Title: Two Can Keep A Secret

Author: Karen M. McManus

Pages: 327

Publisher: Penguin

Published: 2019

Source: ARC (Gifted by Penguin)

Rating: ★★★.5


Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery’s never been there, but she’s heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows.

The town is picture-perfect, but it’s hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone’s declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing.

Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she’s in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something. The thing is, secrets are dangerous–and most people aren’t good at keeping them. Which is why in Echo Ridge, it’s safest to keep your secrets to yourself.


Doesn’t this book make you think of the Pretty Little Liars theme song?

Two Can Keep A Secret is the second book by Karen M. McManus’ following her hugely successful debut novel, One of Us is Lying. I love a good murder and seeing as this one was coming out in January, I knew I had to read it. It’s relatively short being just over 300 pages so I knew it would be quite a quick read. I started it on the 24th January and finished it just after midnight on the 27th January. I probably would’ve read it faster had I not had work in between reading.

Going into this book, I wasn’t sure how I would find it. When I read One of Us is Lying, I found myself just wanting to skip straight forward and find out who the killer was, which is exactly what I ended up doing. I was determined not to do that with this book as I wanted the satisfaction of being right or the feeling after being bested by a murder mystery book.

The plot of Two Can Keep A Secret is a easy to follow, which I think helps it read quite quickly. Like One of Us is Lying, it was told from different points of view, but unlike OOUIL, we only had the story from two different perspectives. One of the perspectives is from Ellery. The story starts with Ellery and her twin brother, Ezra, moving to Echo Ridge after their mother was admitted to rehab. Almost as soon as the book starts, things start happening in Echo Ridge.

Ellery is one of the main characters in this book and one of the PoVs. I liked her character and she was quite inquisitive, particularly when it came to true crime as a result of what happened to her Aunt. I enjoyed it when both Ellery and Ezra were on the page and I enjoyed seeing their relationship. The other main character, Malcolm, was closed off at the beginning of this book, but I felt like his character came out of its shell over the course of the book. I enjoy books where the characters really do develop.

Two Can Keep A Secret wasn’t full of murder like I was actually expecting, but it was still a solid YA thriller, which I feel is a genre in YA that needs expanding on. I feel like Karen M. McManus does a good job of giving us several leads to make us suspect certain characters as that then has you questioning them every time they do something suspicious. Ultimately, I did get the suspect wrong, but I was ok with that. I prefer murder mysteries to surprise me with who did it rather than my guess being right.

img_5539I was a little disappointed partly because I was expecting a little more from the disappearance but also because I felt like some things within the book were just touched on, such as the previous crimes and what happened to the twins Aunt. I expected a lot more sleuthing from Ellery due to how invested she was in crime novels but it wasn’t quite up to Nancy Drew’s level.

I am definitely hovering between 3.5 and 4 stars with this one, I just can’t decide. When I finished it, I gave it 4 stars but I immediately contemplated whether it should actually be a 3.5 star read. Did I enjoy it? Yes. But did I love it? Not quite. I liked the book and it was such a quick read, plus I enjoyed it more than One Of Us Is Lying but I just can’t decide what to rate it at! I think perhaps 3.75 is the most appropriate rating for this book so it’s just in between.

 

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

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Title: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

Author: Mackenzi Lee

Pages: 501

Publisher: Katherine Tiegen Books (Harper in UK)

Published: 2017

Source: Bought

Rating: ★★★★


Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.


A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue has been on my TBR list pretty much ever since its release into the wild (aka the book community). I’ve heard so many great things about this book and seen so much praise surrounding it since its release and so in September, I decided it was about time I picked it up.

Having been on a ‘tour’ of Europe myself in Summer 2017, I was quite excited to explore the topic of a European tour in a more historic setting. I was happy to see that a map had been included featuring the tour stops and felt that this was a good addition to the book.

The plot was an interesting one. I can easily see how people who have read this previously have got caught up in it. The Gentleman’s Guide follows Monty, Percy and Felicity as the take a tour through Europe that goes a liiiiittle bit wrong, thanks to Monty!

Henry ‘Monty’ Montague is our main character and at first, I found myself getting a little frustrated with him even though I did find him to be quite funny. I found myself getting frustrated with him because I felt that he thought about himself a lot and didn’t consider others at times. I think that this changed throughout the book and we saw some good character development with him. I could sympathise with his want to be young and to his true self without his family’s reputation hanging over his head constantly.

Percy is Monty’s best friend who goes on the tour as Monty’s companion. They have a close relationship which is demonstrated throughout the book. Percy’s character is a likeable one that I enjoyed reading about.

Felicity was a good side character with some witty remarks and with a skill for medicine. I liked Felicity’s character in this one and look forward to hearing her story in the sequel, The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy.

I thought that the ending of The Gentleman’s Guide was a good close to the book and was quite satisfying.

Although it took me a while to read this book ( I think it was something like 1-2 months), that doesn’t reflect how I felt about this book as I did enjoy it and thought it was a good historical read. It had a good combination of some humour but also some seriousness in it.

I’m glad that I’ve finally read The Gentleman’s Guide even if it did take me a while to get to it. I’m looking forward to reading The Lady’s Guide soon, although I have seen some not so good feedback which is sad seeing as so many people enjoyed The Gentleman’s Guide!

If you’re looking for a diverse, historical read, I would definitely recommend this one!

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

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Title: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

Author: Jenny Han

Pages: 355

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (US)/Scholastic (UK)

Published: 2014

Source: Bought

Rating: ★★★★


To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.


This isn’t my first time reading this book. No, it’s not my second time either. It is in fact my third time reading this book. When I first read this book, it was 2014 and it had only been released for a few months. Even when I read it 4 years ago, I fell in love with it immediately. I loved the writing, the story line, the characters. I just love it all. I think that’s what brings me back to this book every time. It’s so easy and quick to read.

With the release of the adaptation on Netflix in August which I have watched twice so far (review here), I found the temptation to return back to the pages of this book very difficult to resist. I started it on a Saturday night and by Monday evening, I had finished it.

As I’ve already mentioned, it’s such a quick read and the writing makes it so easy to follow. The chapters are also relatively short and snappy and so I found myself cruising through this book at a really comfortable space. Jenny’s writing throughout all three books is like this. The story is incredibly easy to follow too.

The story follows Lara Jean Covey as she navigates through high school. It really kicks off when Lara Jean’s 5 letters, which she writes when she has a crush on someone but doesn’t know what to do, get sent out to the recipients. This results in a fake relationship which sort of helps get Lara Jean in the clear with the other letter recipients but also helps one of the boys out.

I think Lara Jean is such a cute character. In this book, she has an almost need to fill in for her big sister Margot who has left to go to University in Scotland. Lara Jean has to step in a little for her younger sister Kitty and become a little more responsible, which is difficult for a teenager to do when they have all these other things going in on their life. I thought that she was a good character and that she is perhaps how a lot of teenagers are.

I loved both of Lara’s sisters and really enjoyed reading about her relationship with them and her dad. I thought Josh was also a good character although I found myself both frustrated but also sympathising with him at times. Peter Kavinsky is, of course, a great character and is my favourite of all the boys. I thought he brought a lot of fun to this story and there were plenty of cute moments between him and Lara. I did find myself getting frustrated with him at times, but you have to remember when reading these books that the characters are teenagers and part of being a teenager is doing things that are frustrating but learning from them.

It’s a little difficult to write a review on a re-read because I can’t give you my reaction from reading it for the first time but I think it’s fair to say that I enjoyed this book just as much as I did the first time I read it. Perhaps more, now that I’ve got the imagery in my head from the movie as that’s really helped me imagine things more. To All the Boys is a cute story and it’s always lovely to reread. I feel like I can rely on it to help me out of a reading slump and that I could pick it up and figure out where I am in the book really easily. I’d recommend this book if you’re looking for a quick and enjoyable contemporary and I would definitely advise that you read this if you plan to watch the movie or if you’ve watched it already!

The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox

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Title: The Witch of Willow Hall

Author: Hester Fox

Pages: 384

Publisher: Harlequin

Published: 2018

Source: ARC (Nabbed at YALC, thanks HQYA!)

Rating: ★★★


Years after the Salem witch trials one witch remains. She just doesn’t know it… yet.

Growing up Lydia Montrose knew she was descended from the legendary witches of Salem but was warned to never show the world what she could do and so slowly forgot her legacy. But Willow Hall has awoken something inside her…

1821: Having fled family scandal in Boston Willow Hall seems an idyllic refuge from the world, especially when Lydia meets the previous owner of the house, John Barrett.

But a subtle menace haunts the grounds of Willow Hall, with strange voices and ghostly apparitions in the night, calling to Lydia’s secret inheritance and leading to a greater tragedy than she could ever imagine.

Can Lydia confront her inner witch and harness her powers or is it too late to save herself and her family from the deadly fate of Willow Hall?


I was one of the very lucky few to nab a copy of this at YALC in July. There were 20-25 copies available and I managed to just get into the queue before it got cut off. I had heard little about this book prior to YALC and I’ve seen barely any talk about it in the community but I think I like that. Sometimes it’s really nice to read a book with little to no hype surrounding it with only the synopsis to go on.

Trigger Warning for this book: Incest

The book follows Lydia as she adjusts to the move to Willow Hall following a scandal that forced her family to move away from Boston. This book was a little creepy at times. It had ghosts and witchcraft, making it a great read for Halloween. I found it especially creepy when the ghosts came up as I’m not the biggest fan of ghosts despite not really believing in them.

I thought Lydia was a good character to follow. She was mostly unaware of her abilities, knowing she had a strange gift but not knowing exactly what it was. I felt that I could sympathise with her at times and I understood her frustrations. I liked her younger sister but Lydia’s older sibling, Catherine frustrated me. Her sister acted as though she was all righteous and there was definitely some sibling rivalry between her and Lydia. It did make sense later on in the book once things were revealed by the rivalry still remained.

There was the addition of two males characters, including the mysterious Mr John Barrett who Lydia almost immediately takes a fancy too. He is a good character but he’s also wary.

There was a hint of mystery in this book which went along with the Witchcraft and Ghostly sightings. The mystery being the truth of Willow Hall and what happened on the site that it stands on. I was really intrigued to find out why Willow Hall was haunted but all my questions were answered in this book.

Marriage was a prominent theme on this book with Catherine trying to find a suitor and Lydia’s hand is trying to be won again by an annoying side character. It should be noted that there is the mention of incest in this book.

I had this book on my Halloween Reads list having only read a little bit of it at that point, but I’m glad that I added it on to my list now as I think it’s a great debut that’s perfect for Halloween. I would most definitely recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a creepy read this Autumn.

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

Title: What If It’s Us

Author: Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

Pages: 433

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Published: 2018

Source: ARC (Thanks to S&S!)

Rating: ★★★★


Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.
Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.
But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?
What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?
What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?
But what if it is?


When I received this book, I felt both very happy but also guilty. I’ll be honest with you all, I have read two of Becky’s books and one of Adam’s. Those being Simon and Leah and They Both Die at the End which I read via an audio book. So you may be wondering, why do you feel guilty? Because I feel like I haven’t read enough of Adam’s books and because I haven’t read Becky’s other book. However, after hearing about this book and seeing the reception it’s had on social media, I knew that I just had to request it.

I already knew I was a fan of Becky’s two books I’d read and although I’ve only read one of Adam’s books, I knew from that one that I would probably enjoy this duo writing together. Well friends, I am pleased to tell you that I was not wrong.

Although this book did take me almost a month to read, that is not a reflection of this book at all. It’s simply because I have two exams coming up and so my efforts have been focused on revision instead.

I really liked the characters in this book and thought that they were both written so well. I’m really not sure who I liked more and I’d really love to be friends with both of them. Arthur is a nerdy/geeky sort of guy and is so enthusiastic and interested about things. He’s figuring life out over his summer break whilst in New York. Meanwhile, Ben is going through a rough break up whilst slogging through summer school. Oh, and he happens to be going through summer school with his ex.

This book really gave us two different characters but they both worked really well together. I loved the relationship that developed between them throughout the book and really felt that it was a huge part in the development of the characters themselves. Arthur’s relationship with Ben was a real introduction to love and romantic relationships. With Ben, I felt that though he had been in a relationship before, this was one that really gave him confidence and encouraged him to be a better version of himself, not that he wasn’t great before.

This book didn’t just involve love. It had a good dose of friendship and family. Both families were important to our characters and their friends played a huge part in this book too. There was a contrast between Arthur and Ben’s families but I think that while they both offered different family experiences, they had things in common such as a good support system. Friendship played a big part in this book too, with Ben’s best friend Dylan being a prominent secondary character. Arthur’s friends are also featured but as they are in another state, it was a little more difficult for them to play such a big part in this book.

What If It’s Us? tackled homophobia in this book in one scene which I thought was sad but this is something that lgbtq+ have to deal with on a daily basis. It was interesting to see how two different people handled being in that situation but it was also frustrating to sit through the scene and not see anybody else around them really take a stand against the homophobic treatment they bore the brunt of. I thought that it was fairly important to include this scene as this is something that lgbtq+ people do face and it really made me think about how these characters, and how real life people, must feel on a daily basis.

As well as homophobia, racism was also touched on in this book. It demonstrated how comments can be made with no thought or malice behind them but how it affects people even if offence wasn’t meant. What If It’s Us? also showed how personal identity can be affected by racism. This book tackled two important and serious subjects in a way that really gets you thinking.

The ending isn’t quite the one I was looking for. I love a good happy ending and the one book of Adam’s that I have read did not end in that. And the two books of Becky’s that I have read? Both of those ended in a happy ending. I feel like the ending on this was a compromise between the two and I was really sat there thinking ‘really guys? Come on, why you gotta do this to us?’ But it was a decent ending and I felt like it really left the futures of Arthur and Ben open to the readers interpretation.

I really enjoyed this book and I’m very grateful that I was in receipt of a copy to review. I definitely want to read more of Adam’s books and I would like to finish reading Becky’s so that I have finished her collection of books (so far). I would fully recommend reading this book if you’re looking for a Meet-Cute contemporary that also deals with real world issues.