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Review : When Life Gives You Mangos By Karen Getten

I received a copy of this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review! This title comes out 15 September 2020.

I am person who loves reminiscing about how carefree I was when I was younger and all the shenanigans I used to get up to! Sometimes I’m really tempted to pick up middle-grade novels just to relive or be back in a time where my biggest concern was what has mum made for lunch? (Which by the way I still do that now but moving on…)

This started off as such a light read about a young girl who has been living in this beautiful island all her life and we’re slowly introduced to all the characters. We’re introduced to Gaynah her closest friend and their little hideout, and we slowly explore the island through their adventures.

As we read through the story we get to know about our main character Clara and her loving for surfing, and that after some traumatic incident last year at the beach (which she can’t remember) she’s developed this phobia of the sea. This book had a very elegant way of portraying relationships and betrayals such that as a 22 (almost 23 ) year old I found myself connecting with Clara and empathising with her. This story is about betrayal, trauma, growth and while older readers may find the ending predictable I definitely feel like this is a book that everyone can escape into and enjoy!

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Review: The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The Black Kids comes out in 4th August 2020!

I always like to start by giving the synopsis before I head into my review, as someone who’s been doing this for a minute summarising stories is a skill I am yet to master!

Los Angeles, 1992

Ashley Bennett and her friends are living the charmed life. It’s the end of senior year and they’re spending more time at the beach than in the classroom. They can already feel the sunny days and endless possibilities of summer.

Everything changes one afternoon in April, when four LAPD officers are acquitted after beating a black man named Rodney King half to death. Suddenly, Ashley’s not just one of the girls. She’s one of the black kids.

As violent protests engulf LA and the city burns, Ashley tries to continue on as if life were normal. Even as her self-destructive sister gets dangerously involved in the riots. Even as the model black family façade her wealthy and prominent parents have built starts to crumble. Even as her best friends help spread a rumor that could completely derail the future of her classmate and fellow black kid, LaShawn Johnson.

With her world splintering around her, Ashley, along with the rest of LA, is left to question who is the us? And who is the them?

First of all, after finishing this book I found out that it was a debut novel?!!?!? I think it’s definitely one of the strongest debut novels I’ve ever read. This book follows the story of Ashley Bennett who comes from a wealthy family and has lived for the most part a sheltered life. Her parents worked extremely hard to provide this life for her but also believed that their children should not have to face the same struggles they did. As much as Ashley had been curious about her parents history and their story her parents have gone out of their way to avoid the topic in the hopes that they can keep their daughter in her protective bubble for as long as possible. But the sad reality is Black children, teenagers no matter how wealthy they are, what neighbourhood they live in, are forced to mature way earlier than anyone should. The author did an amazing job of showing this to the reader rather than just telling them, through Ashley Bennetts experiences and through other characters in the story.

The harrowing thing is that whilst reading this you realise just how cyclical the fight for injustice is. Although this story is set in 1992 following the brutal beating of Rodney King by the police and LA riots, it could not be more relevant to the current climate. It really makes the reader reflect on why in GODS green earth we still have to fight for BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS and why black people are still facing the same injustices they were facing 10, 20 , 30 , 400 years ago?

Before I get toooooo carried away I will try to keep this a book review rather than delve into this topic since this is what you came for! One thing that I really REALLY loved about this book is that there were no ‘side’ characters. I don’t know whether this is just me but I am so sick of books that have two main characters they solely focus on and then introduce a string of stand in side characters that are a) PLAIN… SO PLAIN b) are not developed c) literally have no impact on the story or the plot. In this book literally every character is given their due development, you learn about all of her friends stories’ all of their fears and weaknesses, even the neighbours are given more description than most side characters in other books. AND THIS IS WHAT MAKES THEM AND THE WHOLE STORY MORE RELATABLE.

I highly recommend this to pretty much anyone. I feel like it’s a book that really developed and focused on its characters which was the reason I was so immersed from beginning to end!

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Review: Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This story comes out in 6th August 2020!

Here’s the synopsis:

It’s 200 years after Cinderella found her prince, but the fairy tale is over. Teen girls are now required to appear at the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom select wives based on a girl’s display of finery. If a suitable match is not found, the girls not chosen are never heard from again.

Sixteen-year-old Sophia would much rather marry Erin, her childhood best friend, than parade in front of suitors. At the ball, Sophia makes the desperate decision to flee, and finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s mausoleum. There, she meets Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella and her step sisters. Together they vow to bring down the king once and for all–and in the process, they learn that there’s more to Cinderella’s story than they ever knew . . .

This was probably one of my most anticipated reads of this month and I think it lived up to the hype! This story took on a very unique and unconventional twist from the Disney film we all know! Before this I wasn’t aware that a) this story has many variations with earlier versions were found in Greece, China and then the story was also later adapted in Italy and the more recent and popular version emerging from France which is where this story is based! The second thing this book brought to my attention was how different the Disney story I grew up watching was from the actual original story and just how dark the original story actually is! If you’re interested here’s a post about some of the differences between an earlier adaptation and the Disney version: 9 Things About The Original Brothers Grimm Cinderella Story That Are Nothing Like The Disney Version.

I’ve seen this book described as queer black girls overthrowing the patriarchy and that’s pretty much exactly what the story is! We follow the story of Sophia who is about to attend her first annual ball, unlike the magical fantastical balls we’re accustomed to, all girls of age in Lille are required by law to attend this ball. At this event men from the city are encourage (but not forced) to attend where they essentially get to pick their wives. Girls that are not chosen in the first ball, have the chance to attend two more before they are forfeited, some go to work in factories and some are never heard from ever again…

What I loved about this book was the pacing, rather than have back to back intense scenes for chapters and then info-dump the reader with dense scenes for the next chapters there was almost a perfect balance. I literally read through this in 2 days? As someone who isn’t a fast reader that says a lot! The characters are likeable and are well developed throughout the story and so are the relationships. As a fantasy reader the magical system could’ve been improved, there was very little focus on developing the basis for the some of the magic in this story. A lot of emphasis was put on establishing this alternate history of a story we’re all familiar with which was also necessary. Having said that I did feel like some of the magical aspects were just glossed over.

I’m not sure if this is a stand alone book or a series, but I would definitely be interested in reading more! If you’re looking for a very interesting take on a classic I highly recommend you give this a try!

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Review: The Deep Blue Between by Ayesha Harruna Attah

After coming across this book on Netgalley I was really intrigued by the synopsis. The past few years (when I’ve managed to read a book or two) I’ve been strictly reading fantasy so in a hopes to explore other genres I requested this book.

I received a free copy of this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Twin sisters Hassana and Husseina’s home is in ruins after a brutal raid. But this is not the end but the beginning of their story, one that will take them to unfamiliar cities and cultures, where they will forge new families, ward off dangers and truly begin to know themselves.
As the twins pursue separate paths in Brazil and the Gold Coast of West Africa, they remain connected through shared dreams of water. But will their fates ever draw them back together?

I always like to start my reviews by telling you my overall opinion of the book, I feel like sometimes I can ramble and it gets difficult to discern whether I actually enjoyed the book or not! Here’s my verdict *drum roll*… I really enjoyed it!

Essentially the story follow the lives of these twins after they were separated, and the book is told in alternating chapters from the perspective of twins. I felt like this was extremely useful especially because for the majority of this book both these characters lived in very different places. The author spent enough time developing both characters and the various places they called home throughout this book so (for the most part) I didn’t feel lost or confused. Throughout this book we travel through these characters to Brazil and West Africa, and because of the POV style I was able to compartmentalise these two places and associate Brazil with Husseina and West Africa with Hassana. Whilst reading about these areas the author spared no details in describing the sights, smells and engaging all my senses BUT at a point it did get overwhelming. I sometimes found myself trying to absorb and imagine the her surroundings but also keep up with the thoughts of the character. So at certain points I did feel overwhelmed and to be honest a few too many times I almost zoned out.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where twins were the main characters and so throughout this story you really get to see the role nurture plays in developing our personalities. We see these characters although spending a majority of their time thinking about and looking for each other, slowly drift apart. Slowly becoming comfortable in their independence and accustomed to their new lives, you can see them almost hope that they don’t find each other by the end.

Husseina always grew up in her twin sisters’ shadow, she was always the quieter, shy twin so when she embarks on her own journey she slowly finds herself by embracing Candomblé. I had never heard of this religion or knew anything about its roots but the author did an amazing job of striking a balance between info-dumping content at the reader and giving them enough background so that they can follow the story!

The book also explored the effects of British colonisation at that time and how the African community in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil after the official end of slavery in 1888, were slowly establishing and preserving their culture through mosques, through Candomblé temples (terreiro’s) and the constant persecution followers of Candomblé faced.

I would highly recommend this to anyone who wants a change of pace, or is looking for a thought-provoking read. If you enjoy reading about journeys of self-discovery, REALISTIC character development, or just a beautiful writing style this is definitely worth checking out!

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Review: Everything I Never Told You

I consider myself an adrenaline junky when it comes to books. Maybe because in real life I’m such a subdued human being that when I read I prefer to live vicariously through characters doing crazy stuff. That’s one of the main reasons I tend to avoid contemporary/mystery books unless they REALLY stand out to me. A few months ago a friend recommended to me Celeste Ng as an author, it was around the time where the hype for Little Fires Everywhere was crazy. Anytime I get a book recommendation I 100% always at least check the book out online, so when I found Everything I Never Told You( if I keep referring to this book by its’ full name by hands will actually cramp so let’s use EINTY for now :’)) and Little Fires Everywhere on Amazon for a reasonable price… YUP I started reading EINTY the next day.

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Title: Everything I Never Told You

Authors : Celeste Ng

Length:292

Source: Purchased

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.

So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos.

A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.

Although it took me a wHILEEE to get through this book, I enjoyed it to some extent. We follow the story of a teenager who suddenly goes missing and although her parents had thought she was completely happy, throughout this book we discover the struggles she really went through. A lot of books depicting teen angst tend to be (As expected) about trivial nonsense, like does jack from class 3B really like me? Or Will I ever fit into this school and be one of the popular girls? Of course I’m not saying that ALL books depict this, but a majority do… So when I read through the concerns that this teenager had, and the immense pressure she received from her parents as well as trying to fit in as a Chinese-American I really found myself respecting her as a character. Seldom is a book written after a main tragedy, so it was really interesting to read about how these different characters had their own coping mechanisms and seeing some of these actually reflected in myself.

It’s no spoiler that the ‘main character’ dies, that literally happens within the first few pages, but whilst getting to know each character and becoming closer with the family I did feel somewhat invested… The multiple perspectives really were what kept this story alive, reading such an intense story got overwhelming at certain points so having that change of viewpoint was refreshing. I will say though that at points I really just wanted to put the book down. Especially at around 2/3 of the way through, there weren’t many developments and the story kind of plataued to the point where it was just draining. The only thing that kept me interested was finding out how Lydia actually died…

I would recommend this for readers who are looking for a change of pace to their current reads, it’s an intense read but one with relatable characters that are well developed and an easy to read writing style! Yet to read Little Fires Everywhere, so if you’ve read it let me know in the comments what you thought!

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Manga Adaptation of Hamlet:

I really had high high expectations for this but unfortunately I was a little disappointed… I thought a manga adaptation would may make Shakespeare’s work more accessible and easier to read but if anything this made everything a little bit confusing.

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Title: Manga Shakespeare: Hamlet

Authors :Richard Appignanesi (Adapter), Emma Vieceli (Illustrator), William Shakespeare

Length: 204

Source: Purchased

 

First of all the major adaptation to the story was that Hamlet was set wayyy in the future, which I felt like unnecessarily complicated things. I’ve never read Hamlet before so I already don’t know what’s going on… But now having to figure it out this new futuristic world and having illustrations along the way, it was a bit much.

The illustrations were very interesting… at the beginning. I loved the concept of having an illustrated version of Shakespeare’s work, but I found that instead of them making the story easy to follow they complicated it. The art made all the characters look very similar so for half the time I literally had no idea who was who and WHAT the hell was going on.

The nail on the metaphoric coffin was the actual writing… it was still written in the original except now only certain excerpts were included. I personally felt like the text that was included didn’t really help the reader understand what was going on and it was incredibly difficult for me to follow the story.

I finished this in about an hour, not because I particularly enjoyed it but because I kept reading through to waiting for the story to make sense. Anyone out there that isn’t really familiar with Hamlet and the storyline will be very VERy confused (as was I until I read the summary at the end :))

It’s definitely a fun idea but I’m not really inclined to pick up the adaptation of The Tempest I have on my shelf any time soon…

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Replica Review:

Replica had literally been sitting on my shelf for a 2 years waiting to be picked up… Whereas other people were excited by the interesting format of having the story told from two different perspectives. I was a bit put off to be honest, because I felt like I’d just be reading the same story twice??

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Title: Replica

Author: Lauren Oliver

Length: 520

Source: Purchased

 

 

Synopsis:

Lyra

From a distance, the Haven Institute, tucked away on a private island off the coast of Florida, looks serene and even beautiful. But up close the locked doors, military guards, and biohazard suits tell a different story. In truth, it is a clandestine research facility where thousands of replicas, or human models, are born, raised, and observed.

But when a surprise attack is launched on Haven, two of its young experimental subjects—Lyra, or 24, and the boy known only as 72—manage to escape. As they make their way through a new and menacing environment, they meet a stranger named Gemma, who has embarked on a perilous quest of her own. And as Lyra tries to understand Haven’s purpose, she uncovers earth-shattering secrets that will change the lives of both girls.

Gemma

Gemma has been in and out of hospitals her whole life. A sickly child, she has grown into a lonely adolescent whose life is circumscribed by home, school, and her best friend, April.

But after she is nearly abducted by a stranger claiming to know her, Gemma starts to investigate her family’s past and discovers her father’s mysterious connection to the secretive Haven research facility. Hungry for answers, she travels to Florida, only to stumble upon two human models, or replicas, 24 and 72—and a completely new set of questions. As Gemma tries to unravel the mysteries of Haven, she learns terrible truths about herself and her family that will threaten to destroy everything she loves.

Two girls, two stories, one novel.

While the stories of Gemma and Lyra mirror each other, each contains revelations critically important to the other story. Their narratives can be read separately or in alternating chapters.

The writing style really REALLY wasn’t for me. The character came across as a bit whiny, which I mean Gemma is supposed to be a teenager so fair enough, but at times it was reallllyy exhausting. I started off reading from Gemma which I did randomly, I’d heard that there wasn’t a particular order for reading this book. BUT I’m kinda glad I did start with Gemma , I felt like her side of the story slowly eased you into this new world, it developed the characters a bit more and frankly felt a little less rushed.

This book wasn’t really my favourite and I think I have a few reasons why.

  • I love some good character development, and seeing my favourite character grow throughout the different trials and tribulations of the story, but for me Gemma had the a very inconsistent personality which threw me off balance a few times. Just when I thought I somewhat understood her and her way of thinking she’d do something that’d throw me off way WAYYY off. So I read through her part feeling very unfamiliar with her as a character and being unable to connect with her because she was constantly changing???
  • Imma be honest and say I didn’t manage to read through Lyra’s part. I just felt like I was rereading the same story… And not necessarily because of the actual events. I just expected Lyra and Gemma to have more distinct voices, but if I compared a page from each side of the story I literally wouldn’t be able to tell who is who. So… I made it to about 100 pages, and really called it a day.

I personally wouldn’t recommend this to anyone, at the same time there are a  lot of people who seem to have enjoyed this so maybe it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

Let me know what you thought of Replica down in the comment below!

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July Book Haul!

Today was the first day in a whileeeeee that I’ve actually been to a bookshop with the intention of buying books (doesn’t make sense right??) . A lot of times I just go to browseee or see what’s just been released! Anyway of course I did some damage… but I only left with four books so I’m counting this as a success OKAY! (I actually picked up around 7 but knocked some sense into myself :’))

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The first book in my haul is one more related to language learning journey. As some of may know if you follow my instagram (shamless plug no.1-@abooknation) I have recently started learning Spanish. Whilst learning Korean realised that once I’m at the appropriate level I really prefer learning the nuance and new vocabulary of the language whilst reading stories rather than just working through text books. Whether they are short stories or poems (I really love studying Korean poems) it just helps me absorb more if I see words/phrases in context! So I picked up a compilation of short stories in Spanish:

 

Recently my friend and I started a stationery business (Shameless plug no.2- http://the-pastel-planet.myshopify.com) but I’ve always been interested in business and a career as an entrepreneur. I’ve also realised that I actually don’t know much about much in the Financial sector which is ironic because my degree is pretty much based around it… After spending an hour browsing I came to one conclusion… It really is difficult finding a book that isn’t gimmicky. I picked up around 6 books and walked away with 1, a majority of them turned out to be providing the most generic information that even I KNOW. In the end the book I settled on is:

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I started reading through this whilst still at the bookshop and it seemed like a book that I could actually learn a lot from, but if anyone out there can give me some recommendations I would be eternally grateful (pleaseee anythingg…)

 

 

 

 

My next stop was the fiction section and more specifically the Sci-fi/Fantasy area. I’m really craving ( I don’t even know if it’s possible to crave books??) a high fantasy read,  I was just looking for a distant world I can throw myself into! There I picked up:

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I’ve heard about this book EVERYWHEREEE, it’s almost like a classic in the fantasy genre. Never actually read anything by Brandon Sanderson but apparently this is the best place to start?? It has amazing reviews on Goodreads so I’m putting a lot of faith in this one! *fingers crossed*

 

 

 

 

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From what I can tell this is pretty much a retelling of Ariel and honestly that’s all I know about it! I’ve heard that Christina Henry is apparently pretty good at writing at dark retelling so I’m realllyy excited to read this.

 

 

 

Have you read any books I’ve listed above? If so I would love to hear your reviews in the comment section!

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JUNE TBR/WRAP-UP

This post is going to be a TBR/Wrap up because I’ve actually already read and even reviewed some of the books on here! I didn’t know if I wanted to do a full TBR for this month because I honestly wasn’t sure how many books I’d read, (if any…))

BUT seen as I seem to be on some kind of roll here we go!

Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

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Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

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Replica by Lauren Oliver

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Hamlet (manga adaptation) by Richard Appignanesi (Adapter)Emma Vieceli (Goodreads Author) (Illustrator), William Shakespeare238003

(Also side note (these have become a bit of a habit in my posts now and I don’t really know how to feel about them??) As some of you may know from my previous posts I have been studying Korean (VERY inconsistently) for the past 3/4 years and sometimes want to make blog posts about my progress! I’ve also (very) recently started learning Spanish, so I was debating on whether I should make a new blog just for language learning. Orrrr if people are actually interested in seeing those kind of posts here?? Please let me know in the comments!)

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20 QUESTIONS BOOK TAG!

#1: How many books are too many in a series?

In my very personal opinion 3, although I’ve realised that I don’t tend to read series in general. Actually it’s not that I don’t read series, but rather that I don’t carry on. I think The Mortal Instruments series is the one of the few series that I actually carried on reading but then I kinda gave up after book 5..

I don’t whether it’s that I get bored of reading the same characters/story for more than one book, because it doesn’t even have to be that I didn’t enjoy the first. There are a lot of series where I thoroughly enjoy the first book but I have 0 interest in carrying on??? Is there anyone out there that goes through the same thing??

#2: How do you feel about cliff-hangers?

I woul

#3: Hardcover or paperback?

Hardcover for the aesthetics paperback for the fact that it doesn’t weight 5 TONS IN MY BAG.

#4: Favorite book?

I actually don’t have a favourite book??? A book I recently read that is my favourite of this year so far is Cabin in the Woods by Tim Lebbon (Goodreads Author), Joss Whedon (Creator), Drew Goddard (Creator) I didn’t even know this book was a movie novelisation??? It definitely had elements of horror but it also had some scientific-fi elements too which is why I really flew through this book!

#5: Least Favorite Book?

mmm… I can’t really think of a book that I really hated reading, I usually tend to stick to genres I know I’ll enjoy so although a book might not be my cup of tea I don’t think I’ve ever HATED a book I was reading.

#6: Love Triangles, yes or no?

In my experience (IN BOOKS… NOT PERSONALLY)  I don’t think I’ve ever read a well done love triangle. I feel like they’re always over complicated and give too much importance that it becomes the focus of the story, as someone who doesn’t really read romance when that happens I tend to lose interest in the book.

#8: A book you are currently reading?

Replica by Lauren Oliver! I know I’m soooo late, but I finally got to it!

#9: Last book you recommended to someone?

 Assassin’s Heart by Sarah Ahiers

#10: Oldest book you’ve read? (publication date)

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Publication date: 1813 (WOWW I actually didn’t know it was that old?!?!)

#11: Newest book you’ve read? (publication date)

I think that might be the book that I’m currently reading Replica by Lauren Oliver.

#12: Favorite author?

I don’t think I have one…

#13: Buying books or borrowing?

Buyingggg, although it depends! Some books I really want to keep after finishing, others I feel indifferent. I think it also depends on whether I see myself reading that book again.

#14: A book you dislike that everyone seems to love?

There are actually a lot of books that weren’t particularly my thing whereas everybody seemed to love them, one being Throne of Glass.

#15: Bookmarks or dog-ears?

BOOKMARKS, how DARE you?!!?!? I get panic attacks when I see people dog-earing their books on the train hermahgerdddd.

#16: A book you can always reread?

I’ve actually never reread a book?? I just feel like why waste time reading something I’ve already enjoyed when I could use that time to discover other books?

#17: Can you read while listening to music?

Sometimes I read best whilst listing to music, especially if there’s too much going on around me it helps me zone out. And this might be a bit lame, but I try to find songs that match the vibe of the scene I’m readinggg( but then that turns into me orchestrating a soundtrack for the book from my playlist, which honestly authors holla at meee because I have some bomb ass playlists for your books)

#18: One POV or multiple POVs?

This reallllyyy depends, sometimes multiple POV’s because I can read the same story through different characters eyes. At times though multiple POVs can become overwhelming and confusing. So for me it really depends on the book.

#19: Do you read a book in one sitting or over multiple days?

One sitting?? In my current slump situation?? Yeah… that’s a no. LOLOL

It definitely takes me days ( recently weeks to get through a book) But if I’m reading something fast-paced or something that I’m thoroughly enjoying maybe 2/3 days?

#20: Who do you tag?

ANYONE AND EVERYONE.