February Wrap-Up and March TBR

I read 6 books in February! That might not seem like a lot, but I’ve had much lower numbers for a while now and that’s quite impressive for me – I’m really happy.

Books I read in February

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Caledon Holt is the Kingdom of Renovia’s deadliest weapon. No one alive can best him in brawn or brains, which is why he’s the Guild’s most dangerous member and the Queen’s one and only assassin. He’s also bound to the Queen by an impossible vow–to find the missing Deian Scrolls, the fount of all magical history and knowledge, stolen years ago by a nefarious sect called the Aphrasians.
Shadow has been training all her life to follow in the footsteps of her mother and aunts–to become skilled enough to join the ranks of the Guild. Though magic has been forbidden since the Aphrasian uprising, Shadow has been learning to control her powers in secret, hoping that one day she’ll become an assassin as feared and revered as Caledon Holt.
When a surprise attack brings Shadow and Cal together, they’re forced to team up as assassin and apprentice to hunt down a new sinister threat to Renovia. But as Cal and Shadow grow closer, they’ll uncover a shocking web of lies and secrets that may destroy everything they hold dear. With war on the horizon and true love at risk, they’ll stop at nothing to protect each other and their kingdom in this stunning first novel in the Queen’s Secret series.

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local state candidate – as long as he’s behind the scenes. There’s no way he’d ever knock on doors to ask people for their votes…until he meets Maya.
Maya Rehman’s having the worst Ramadan ever. Her best friend is too busy to hang out, her summer trip is cancelled, her parents are separating and now her mother thinks the solution to her problems is political canvassing – with some awkward guy she hardly knows …
Going door to door isn’t exactly glamorous, but maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world. After all, the polls are getting closer – and so are Maya and Jamie. Mastering local activism is one thing. Navigating the cross-cultural crush of the century is another thing entirely. 

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

In this volume we’ll see the Heartstopper gang go on a school trip to Paris! Not only are Nick and Charlie navigating a new city, but also telling more people about their relationship AND learning more about the challenges each other are facing in private…
Meanwhile Tao and Elle will face their feelings for each other, Tara and Darcy share more about their relationship origin story, and the teachers supervising the trip seem… rather close…?

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

One summer morning, a flight takes off from New York to Los Angeles. There are 216 passengers aboard: among them a Wall Street millionaire; a young woman taking a pregnancy test in the airplane toilet; a soldier returning from Afghanistan; and two beleaguered parents moving across the country with their adolescent sons. When the plane suddenly crashes in a field in Colorado, the younger of these boys, 12-year-old Edward Adler, is the sole survivor.
Dear Edward recounts the stories of the passengers aboard that flight as it hurtles toward its fateful end, and depicts Edward’s life in the crash’s aftermath as he tries to make sense of the loss of his family, the strangeness of his sudden fame, and the meaning of his survival. As Edward comes of age against the backdrop of sudden tragedy, he must confront one of life’s most profound questions: how do we make the most of the time we are given?

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Longing to escape his island home, a boy named Hodaka runs away during his first summer of high school to find a new life in Tokyo. As rain falls for days on end and Hodaka struggles to adjust, he meets a girl named Hina who holds a mysterious power: With a single prayer, she can part the clouds and bring back the sun. But her power comes at a price, and as the weather spirals further and further out of control, they must choose what future they truly want for themselves.
Written concurrently with production of the 2019 film Weathering With You, this novel comes straight from director Makoto Shinkai, the mind behind 2016’s hit your name.!

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Review to come | Goodreads | Waterstones

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

My favourite book of the month was probably Yes No Maybe So and my least favourite was The Queen’s Assassin, but I still enjoyed it a lot.

Books I want to read in March

Two Can Keep a Secret – Karen M McManus
Always and Forever Lara Jean – Jenny Han
Viper – Bex Hogan

I’m already currently reading two of these books, and I’m hoping to buddy read Viper later in the month. Other than these, I’ll go on mood-reading!

What did you read in February?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Weathering With You by Makoto Shinkai

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Longing to escape his island home, a boy named Hodaka runs away during his first summer of high school to find a new life in Tokyo. As rain falls for days on end and Hodaka struggles to adjust, he meets a girl named Hina who holds a mysterious power: With a single prayer, she can part the clouds and bring back the sun. But her power comes at a price, and as the weather spirals further and further out of control, they must choose what future they truly want for themselves.
Written concurrently with production of the 2019 film Weathering With You, this novel comes straight from director Makoto Shinkai, the mind behind 2016’s hit your name.!

I always find these books the hardest to review. Makoto Shinkai is the director of multiple movies such as Your Name and now Weathering With You. In 2017, I read the light novel of Your Name and adored it so much – you can see my review here. But the difference here is I think there was much more time between me watching the Your Name movie and reading the light novel. This time, I only watched Weathering With You around a month ago, so reading the light novel with it so fresh in my mind was a little strange. I’m going to attempt to summarise my thoughts on this book, but I also believe I will naturally struggle to separate the two and may discuss both.

Makoto Shinkai, you’ve done it again. I fell in love with this story just as much as I did with Your Name. Although both stories are a little dark, I saw the contrast between them almost instantly. A major focus of Weathering is environmental and climate change, but it also immediately explores difficult family relationships, homelessness and mentions gun crime and the difficulties young girls face on the streets. Watching the film, I was a little shocked. The dark undertones of this story were not quite expected, and gave a much different narrative for me than that of the familiar Your Name.

However, the story quickly picks up and we see our main character meet the 100% sunshine girl, and a magical realism compelling fantasy tale emerges. Even if I didn’t always love all of the characters in this book, I appreciated them for what they were, including Keisuke. I loved that the book gives cameos to both Taki and Mitsuha from Your Name, and they’re in the movie too, if a little harder to spot.

Hodaka and Hina both grow and have a strange coming of age story among all the madness they face. Seeing them face their own challenges together and apart warmed my heart, and I ended up tearing up at the movie and the book. Even Hina’s little brother, Keisuke’s daughter and the cat ended up having a special place in my heart.

My only difficulty (other than separating my thoughts between the movie and the light novel), is that this book often left me questioning who was narrating. We follow more than two characters, and there isn’t any chapter or section headings to indicate the switches, neither is the tone all that different. It left me muddled and I found the book hard to follow in parts.

Overall, the story of Weathering With You was compelling, emotional and romantic. I can’t say whether it surpassed or matched Your Name for me, but rather I think it holds a different piece of me all together, a piece just as treasured.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #2

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga where we share books we’ve bought or received this week. Find out more and join in here!

Hi everyone! I feel like I’ve gained so many books in the past few weeks, but luckily all of the ones in today’s post I managed to receive as ARCs!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Caledon Holt is the Kingdom of Renovia’s deadliest weapon. No one alive can best him in brawn or brains, which is why he’s the Guild’s most dangerous member and the Queen’s one and only assassin. He’s also bound to the Queen by an impossible vow–to find the missing Deian Scrolls, the fount of all magical history and knowledge, stolen years ago by a nefarious sect called the Aphrasians.
Shadow has been training all her life to follow in the footsteps of her mother and aunts–to become skilled enough to join the ranks of the Guild. Though magic has been forbidden since the Aphrasian uprising, Shadow has been learning to control her powers in secret, hoping that one day she’ll become an assassin as feared and revered as Caledon Holt.
When a surprise attack brings Shadow and Cal together, they’re forced to team up as assassin and apprentice to hunt down a new sinister threat to Renovia. But as Cal and Shadow grow closer, they’ll uncover a shocking web of lies and secrets that may destroy everything they hold dear. With war on the horizon and true love at risk, they’ll stop at nothing to protect each other and their kingdom in this stunning first novel in the Queen’s Secret series.

I was lucky enough to be at the Northern Bloggers Bi-Monthly Book Bash a few weeks ago, and we were all given ARCs of this book. I’m currently buddy-reading it with Alex from Library of Books and Tea, and I’m really enjoying it so far.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

The Prince and the Pauper gets a modern makeover in this adorable, witty, and heartwarming young adult novel set in the Geekerella universe by national bestselling author Ashley Poston.Imogen Lovelace is an ordinary fangirl on an impossible mission: save her favorite character, Princess Amara, from being killed off from her favorite franchise, Starfield. The problem is, Jessica Stone—the actress who plays Princess Amara—wants nothing more than to leave the intense scrutiny of the fandom behind. If this year’s ExcelsiCon isn’t her last, she’ll consider her career derailed.
When a case of mistaken identity throws look-a-likes Imogen and Jess together, they quickly become enemies. But when the script for the Starfield sequel leaks, and all signs point to Jess, she and Imogen must trade places to find the person responsible. That’s easier said than done when the girls step into each other’s shoes and discover new romantic possibilities, as well as the other side of intense fandom. As these “princesses” race to find the script-leaker, they must rescue themselves from their own expectations, and redefine what it means to live happily ever after.

At the same event, we all brought any spare proofs we didn’t want to swap. I donated a few and picked up this which I’ve wanted to read since I read Geekerella when that came out!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

The curse is finally broken, but Prince Rhen of Emberfall faces darker troubles still. Rumors circulate that he is not the true heir and that forbidden magic has been unleashed in Emberfall. Although Rhen has Harper by his side, his guardsman Grey is missing, leaving more questions than answers.
Win the crown, save the kingdom.
Rumored to be the heir, Grey has been on the run since he destroyed Lilith. He has no desire to challenge Rhen–until Karis Luran once again threatens to take Emberfall by force. Her own daughter Lia Mara sees the flaws in her mother’s violent plan, but can she convince Grey to stand against Rhen, even for the good of Emberfall?
The heart-pounding, compulsively readable saga continues as loyalties are tested and new love blooms in a kingdom on the brink of war.

I requested a copy of A Heart so Fierce and Broken through work, but I really didn’t expect to get a copy! I was really shocked when this came in for me.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local state candidate – as long as he’s behind the scenes. There’s no way he’d ever knock on doors to ask people for their votes…until he meets Maya.
Maya Rehman’s having the worst Ramadan ever. Her best friend is too busy to hang out, her summer trip is cancelled, her parents are separating and now her mother thinks the solution to her problems is political canvassing – with some awkward guy she hardly knows …
Going door to door isn’t exactly glamorous, but maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world. After all, the polls are getting closer – and so are Maya and Jamie. Mastering local activism is one thing. Navigating the cross-cultural crush of the century is another thing entirely
.

This is another ARC I managed to grab through work, and I’m really looking forward to picking it up.

What did you buy this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Let’s Discuss! Favourite Books of 2019

Hello everybody! I’m here today with a post I always find hard to write – my favourite books of last year. I hate the question ‘what is your favourite book’, because I never feel I can choose! But I’m forcing myself to do a top 5 countdown today for you, to challenge myself on actually choosing.

5.

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Amid the chaos of war, the Shadowhunters must decide to fight with the vampires, werewolves and other Downworlders – or against them. Meanwhile, Jace and Clary have their own decision to make: should they pursue the love they know is a mortal sin?

I had to choose a Cassandra Clare book to include in this list, and City of Glass was my favourite in The Mortal Instruments series. But still, no other Cassandra Clare book beats Clockwork Princess for me!

4.

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed. 

I was so late to the party reading The Hate U Give, but it astounded me all the same. It truly is an incredibly important book.

3.

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

In this richly developed fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards for an unknown fate still haunts her. Now, the guards are back and this time it’s Lei they’re after — the girl with the golden eyes whose rumored beauty has piqued the king’s interest.
Over weeks of training in the opulent but oppressive palace, Lei and eight other girls learns the skills and charm that befit a king’s consort. There, she does the unthinkable — she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world’s entire way of life. Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge. 

I adored Girls of Paper and Fire so much! It was such a beautiful read that meant so much to me, but unfortunately I didn’t enjoy the second book as much.

2.

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Amelie loved Reese. And she thought he loved her. But she’s starting to realise love isn’t supposed to hurt like this. So now she’s retracing their story and untangling what happened by revisiting all the places he made her cry.
Because if she works out what went wrong, perhaps she can finally learn to get over him.

This book came at a time in my life that it couldn’t have helped me more. It was such an emotional read for me and made me realise a lot. But it didn’t quite nab top spot!

1.

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a strange book hidden in the library stacks. As he turns the pages, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, and nameless acolytes, he reads something strange: a story from his own childhood. Bewildered by this inexplicable book and desperate to make sense of how his own life came to be recorded, Zachary uncovers a series of clues – a bee, a key and a sword – that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club, and through a doorway to a subterranean library, hidden far below the surface of the earth.
What Zachary finds in this curious place is more than just a buried home for books and their guardians – it is a place of lost cities and seas, lovers who pass notes under doors and across time, and of stories whispered by the dead. Zachary learns of those who have sacrificed much to protect this realm, relinquishing their sight and their tongues to preserve this archive, and also those who are intent on its destruction. Together with Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired protector of the place, and Dorian, a handsome barefoot man with shifting alliances, Zachary travels the twisting tunnels, darkened stairwells, crowded ballrooms, and sweetly-soaked shores of this magical world, discovering his purpose – in both the mysterious book and in his own life
.

I feel like I’m cheating calling my last read of the year my favourite, but a month on and it still means so much to me. I absolutely adored The Starless Sea and it was such a desert island book. I couldn’t help but give it my number 1.

Which was your favourite read of 2019?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Let’s Discuss! Little Women Adaptation

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I wasn’t going to write a review or any kind of post for this movie, due to the pure fact I have never read the book. But after my third viewing of it in cinema, I knew I couldn’t resist any longer. I have to talk about my admiration for this cinematic masterpiece.

This film is just absolutely beautiful in every way. The scenery is superb. The lighting is lovely. The girls have my heart. I saw some of myself in each one of them, and I think that’s what makes this story so special. Jo’s spark, soul and courageous wit is who I think we all aspire to be. Beth’s caring nature is who I hope I am every day. Meg’s love for her family and John shines through, and I know in my heart I am and will be like her in many ways. Amy’s lust for life and raucous, somewhat unsettled character touched my heart. And although I could go on, I will finish on marmee, who I relate to on so many levels, but especially the ‘I bake scones at midnight and don’t mind the mess, we don’t’.

The energy in this film is electric, and I fell in love with the chaotic scenes between the girls. I often felt like Laurie, looking in on the family with adoration and wonder. He seemed to be almost yearning to be part of it all, to have the unrequited love that only occurs between family.

Everything seemed to fit seamlessly together – the costumes, sets and score are just a few aspects that come to mind that offer layer upon layer. The acting is superb, and specific scenes (Jo’s powerful and emotional speech in the attic to her mother comes to mind immediately (below)), I know will stay with me. Some of the beautifully poetic lines brought tears to my eyes even on the third watch.

“I just feel like women….they have minds and they have souls as well as just hearts. And they’ve got ambition and they’ve got talent as well as just beauty. And I’m so sick of people saying that, that love is just all a woman is fit for. I’m so sick of it. But I’m – I’m so lonely.”

Jo March, Little Women

I can only describe Little Women as an absolute delight and achingly beautiful. Coming out of the first screening with my boyfriend on New Year’s Day, I immediately knew I wanted to see it again and again. I already am endlessly glad that I began the year on such a lovely note. I have since seen it with my mum and my best friend, and both the second and third screening were just as enjoyable as the first. I just know that this film will be a comfort for years to come, and the level of warmth it brought to me will not leave in a hurry.

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: The Places I’ve Cried in Public by Holly Bourne

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Goodreads | Amazon

Amelie loved Reese. And she thought he loved her. But she’s starting to realise love isn’t supposed to hurt like this. So now she’s retracing their story and untangling what happened by revisiting all the places he made her cry.
Because if she works out what went wrong, perhaps she can finally learn to get over him.

This book is a reminder of how powerful words can be. A reminder of how they can make you cry, make you smile, and make you feel so much less alone. I’m lucky enough that I have never been through what Amelie went through in this book, but I have been in many similar places to her. I have cried in public. And I know how it feels when love doesn’t make you happy anymore.

Amelie’s story is such a powerful one and is unfortunately true of many women (and men) all over the world. Her relationship with Reese includes the most basic forms of manipulation and emotional abuse, which gradually strip her from her confidence and happiness.

‘It’s such a simple torture – the silent treatment. As basic as tripping someone over or pulling their chair out before they sit down. And yet it’s so very effective.’

Amelie can be a frustrating narrator at times as she is constantly making decisions that make you want to scream at her…but that’s kind of the point. She’s young, and manipulated against her better judgement. I know what it’s like to be young and in love, and I couldn’t be angry at Amelie for the choices she made. Talking of, I need to write a small warning into this post. It hit me hard, even though I haven’t experienced the vast majority of what Amelie did. It was still an incredibly painful and hard hitting read, which will stay with me forever.

Both Amelie, Reese and the other characters in this story are incredibly well written and developed. I feel like Bourne knew her characters inside out and this came across at all times. The only part I’m regretful about is feeling like I could have known Alfie (Amelie’s ex) better going into this story. Just a few more scenes with him may have helped me fully sympathise with what Amelie was leaving behind when she moved at the beginning of the book. Reese is especially well developed, and Bourne did an excellent job of writing his character so we felt exactly how Amelie did about him, through all of the love, charisma, hurt and anger.

The plot meant this book flew past. I love the switches between past and present, as it was a constant reminder of how all of these past events had made Amelie feel in the present day. It allowed the book to be just that little more hard hitting and effective.

‘When someone has the willpower to pretend you’re not there, it nullifies you. How do you fight against that humiliation?’

This was definitely my favourite of Bourne’s books so far, and I can really see how she’s developed as a writer. Amelie is now a young narrator to me, but I still felt all of the hurt and emotion that she did.

Above all, this book feels important. It’s one of those I can’t help but want to push into the hands of other young women out there, to understand that it’s normal to feel unhappy, it’s good to trust your gut and it’s okay to reach out and ask for help. It’s okay to cry in public.

CW: sexual and emotional abuse, PTSD.

★★★★★  
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

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Goodreads | Amazon

It’s 1999 and the internet is still a novelty. At a newspaper office, two colleagues, Beth and Jennifer, e-mail back and forth, discussing their lives in hilarious details, from love troubles to family dramas. And Lincoln, a shy IT guy responsible for monitoring e-mails, spends his hours reading every exchange.
At first their e-mails offer a welcome diversion, but the more he reads, the more he finds himself falling for one of them. By the time Lincoln realises just how head-over-heels he is, it’s too late to introduce himself.
After a series of close encounters, Lincoln eventually decides he must follow his heart… and find out if there is such a thing as love before first sight.

This was my first read for my N.E.W.T.s TBR and I’m so glad it was because it was such a quick and enjoyable read. I’ve now read everything major Rainbow Rowell has written, and I don’t have a bad word to say about any of them. They all have soft spots in my heart for very different reasons, but Landline and Attachments do for their quirkiness.

Attachments follows Lincoln, who takes a job where he reads people’s work emails and feels creepy about it. Especially when he starts reading the exchanges of best friends Jennifer and Beth, he feels even more uncomfortable when he starts to fall for one of them.

I mean, evidently this book was made for me. Not only am I called Beth, but I was born in 1999! It was weird reading about the year of my birth, but also kind of nostalgic and super interesting. Having the book set in ’99 gave it so many quirks you wouldn’t see today, let alone the whole email concept and Y2K thing itself.

‘“I’d know you in the dark,” he said. “From a thousand miles away.”‘ 

Jennifer and Beth were immediately likeable and funny characters. The chapters are pretty much alternate between Lincoln’s prose and Jennifer and Beth’s emails. All of the chapters are short, but the fact Jennifer and Beth’s parts were shown in email form made it such a quick read for me and didn’t take anything away from the story. I still sympathised with them and found them both very relatable.

In fact, the entire cast of characters were just brilliant. Lincoln is so charming and lovable, and we can’t possibly feel weird about him reading Beth and Jennifer’s emails because we’re reading them too. It’s all very cleverly executed.

The larger cast was so heartwarming, too. I loved Jennifer’s subplot and really grew to like and sympathise with her. Lincoln’s weird but likeable friends were so great and different in their own ways. His mum, sister and Doris made me laugh and warmed my soul.

‘”There’s nothing you could become that I haven’t already fallen in love with.”’

Honestly, I didn’t expect to enjoy this as much as I did. Rainbow Rowell has a habit of writing somewhat cheesy romances that have just been….elevated. It was awesome, and made me nostalgic for Landline!

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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