Unboxing: Carpe Librum’s March Book Box

Hey guys! It’s that time of the month again where Carpe Librum releases yet another one of their amazing book subscription boxes!

So if you didn’t know, Carpe Librum is a bi-monthly book subscription service that costs $35 (including local shipping)and comes with a novel and a number of other bookish goodies.

This month, in conjunction with International Woman’s Day, which fell on March 8, Carpe Librum decided to honour women by creating a box that was completely for us girls.

Their theme this month was ‘Who Run The World: GIRLS!’ and they featured items that were inspiring and girly and simply perfect.

Today, I’m going to be unboxing it for you.

1. Dear Ljeawele, or A Feminists Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

From the best-selling author of Americanah and We Should All Be Feminists comes a powerful new statement about feminism today–written as a letter to a friend.

A few years ago, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie received a letter from a dear friend from childhood, asking her how to raise her baby girl as a feminist. Dear Ijeawele is Adichie’s letter of response.

Here are fifteen invaluable suggestions–compelling, direct, wryly funny, and perceptive–for how to empower a daughter to become a strong, independent woman. From encouraging her to choose a helicopter, and not only a doll, as a toy if she so desires; having open conversations with her about clothes, makeup, and sexuality; debunking the myth that women are somehow biologically arranged to be in the kitchen making dinner, and that men can “allow” women to have full careers, Dear Ijeawele goes right to the heart of sexual politics in the twenty-first century. It will start a new and urgently needed conversation about what it really means to be a woman today.

Goodreads

Published: 7th March 2017

This month, we received a hardback of this new release by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It’s a short book that I personally had never heard about before this box came.

Regardless, it really looks amazing and I can’t wait to dive in.

2. A CLGS #GRLPWR Tote Bag

The next item was a CLGS original tote bag with the words ‘Well-behaved women rarely make history’ emblazoned on it in a gorgeous red circle with beautiful typography.

Personally, I would be so proud to carry this bag because I truly believe in this quote with all my heart.

Let me tell you a little story that I have yet to address publicly because I was scared that this person would read it (I’ve learnt that I shouldn’t be scared. It was not my fault and I am not afraid). Also this needs some backstory so you can understand it better so bear with me.

So when I was in Youth.SG, there was a guy from my school who worked with me. Not in the editorial team but Youth was a small company so we basically worked together anyway. We were friends for 6 months. Myself and my other friends would often invite him to join us for lunch or we would include him in things. I thought we were friends.

Now around the time that this incident happened, I was doing a photo essay for my online journalism class and I had decided to go back to that same funeral company that I had interviewed when I was with Youth and spin it to focus on Sarah, the youngest local embalmer in Singapore.

However, as death goes, it’s unpredictable and because of that, instead of seeing an adult get embalmed, I saw a miscarried foetus being cleaned and placed in a coffin.

As a women and a journalist, that was both incredibly fascinating and also terribly sad.

At the end of the day, I was just in awe of what I had just witnessed and being me, I just wanted to talk about it. So I took one of the pictures that I had taken that had ended up being very blurry and  put it on my Instagram story. The foetus was half cut off in the shot, blurry and you really couldn’t see much. I’d even reckon you couldn’t tell what it was if I hadn’t said it.

I posted it with text that talked about how humbling it was to be in the same room as an unborn child. To know that I once looked like that. To think of the life this baby could have had.

About a week later, a friend showed me a screen grab from this guy’s private Instagram. He has taken a screenshot of my picture with my caption, blurred out my name and posted it on his Instagram with a long caption that basically said that working with me was okay but that I had to be an absolute psycho to be able to do this. He criticised my ethics with this assignment (though permission was sought for both articles and faces were always blurred or cropped out) and finally, he ended off by saying that if he had to do what I did, he would have been affected greatly. His rant was disgusting.

Now this guy has a lot of friends. So all of a sudden, that picture got loads of likes and comments. People I knew and people I didn’t know were agreeing that I was crazy and that he should stay away from me and some people said they knew who he was talking about. They talked about my lack of ethics and it was so terrifying for me at that time and even now, looking back, it’s still scary.

Of course I immediately blocked him and turned my Instagram private. I’m guessing he realised I did that because shortly after, he tried to follow me with another one of his photography accounts (I didn’t accept of course). He’s also tried to say hi or smile at me in school many times since. I’ve ignored him very pointedly.

Some life tips: Don’t gossip about your friends. Private accounts are never truly private. If you want to stay friends with someone, protect them with all you have in you instead of feeding them to the wolves.

But the point of telling you this story was also to talk about that part where he said that if he had to witness a foetus being put in a coffin and the full embalming of an elderly woman, he would be really affected and he wouldn’t be able to do it.

It just really made this quote makes sense to me. Who was he to say that I couldn’t be brave and do this? Who was he to decide that just because he couldn’t do it, that should mean that I couldn’t too? I am clearly braver then him. I clearly have more guts to go out there and find a story. All while he sits behind his screen like a coward with his useless friends who encourage the fact that no one else has the guts to do what I did. Just because you can’t do something does not mean that you should criticise the people who do.

Another thing for my readers out there: Never ever ever ever let the opinions of someone else dictate what you can or cannot do. Never. You want to do something, you go and do it. Who cares what other people say or do. Who cares? You do it.

If you read that long story, thank you. Thank you for finally giving me the voice and courage to talk about something that really ripped me up and left me reeling for ages after. Thank you.

3. A Hand Brushed Poster

This month, Carpe Librum worked with @fuzzygreenlights to create this beautiful poster with a gorgeous quote on it. I adore it. Just that I don’t know where to put it yet.

4. A #GRLPWR Badge

The next item was another CLSG original. This was a very pretty button that you can put on bags, cases and other things. I love the design. Just wish it were a little smaller. I like my badges a bit more subtle. But that’s just a personal preference.

Actually now that I’ve said that, maybe CLSG did it because woman should loud and proud. Hmm. Makes sense. Or I’m reading too much into it.

5. A Lip Scrub

I have actually never used a lip scrub before even though I probably need it.

So receiving this lip scrub that was a collaboration between Nomi and Co and CLSG was such a treat.

It comes with all natural ingredients (you can look at the ingredients in the label above) and it actually tastes and smells amazing even though I’m pretty sure you shouldn’t be eating it.

So I tried it the other day and even though I got a lip sore the next morning (probably because I’ve never used one before so my lips were resisting) I think it was great. I think I might have scrubbed too hard or something but regardless, my lips were so soft and fresh afterwards.

It tastes sweet and pink. Did you know pink has a taste? And I loved it. I am certainly going to be using this again really soon (as soon as that lip sore goes away).

6. A Mystery Gift


This month, Carpe Librum gave ten of their subscribers a special mystery gift and I actually got one!

I was completely not expecting this since I never win these kinds of things but I am so glad because they gave each of us a hand-sewn pouch. Astrid, who is also part of the CLSG team, made these pouches and they are gorgeous.

There is a sewn on fist on the front with ‘girl power’ sewn at the back. And inside is the most gorgeous printed material. The best part was that I think the inside material was different for each pouch but this material completely suits me. I saw that Huda had posted a pouch with blue lining inside and while that’s beautiful, blue isn’t really my thing. But somehow this pattern is just prefect and complements who I am perfectly.

Amazing job Astrid and Huda!

So that was all that was in this month’s box. Sorry my unboxing was ridiculously long this month. I mean, as a woman myself, this box meant a lot to me so I think I have permission to word vomit.

Special thanks to Huda for accommodating my schedule like she does every single time (I’m honestly the worst customer I swear haha). Huda had to courier the box to me on Monday because I was away on holiday last weekend and I felt so bad because she had to do a whole back and forth with the timings since I was starting my new job at the Straits Times on Tuesday.

So thank you Huda for not murdering me over the phone. Love you loads! 🙂

Also another exciting thing has happened. CLSG has officially got their website up and running. You can access it here though I think they are on hiatus for a bit.

That said, happy International Woman’s Day from me to all my beautiful female readers. I love you.

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Spotlight: Ten Organisational Tips From Professional Organisers + Giveaway

Do you want to be more organised this year? Well keep reading and you might actually achieve it.

Top Ten Organisational Tips

1. Knowing who you are is the key to organization mainly because if you’re pretending to be someone else, it’s hard to remember where that pretend person put something!

2. Change is hard, so be honest about organizing tasks. People who never hang up their coats in a closet, probably never will; get a coat rack and call it a day.

3. Perfect isn’t real. Magazine perfection is styled by a professional whose job it is to make everything perfection for the millisecond it takes to snap a photo.

4. No shame, no blame! You liking clear, spotless surfaces doesn’t make you OCD (it’s not a personality disorder), it’s your personality type.

5. Later Box It. When you can’t part with a useless item, store it away in a box and revisit that box in a few months (a year), whatever you missed keep, whatever you forgot … dude, let it go.

6. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Change is hard (see #2!) so if storing TP right next to the toilet works for you, do it, but for heaven’s sake try to make it look nice—unless you live alone on Antarctica then who cares.

7. Organizing at its core is about retrieval. Period. Can you easily find and get things when you need them. Everything else is an argument about aesthetics.

8. One-step solutions are golden. Hanging up your coat is a five-step process whereas popping it on a hook is one-step. Light bulb (at least it was for us!)

9. Be loud & proud. So, you write important To Do’s on your hand in a pinch. Who cares? Don’t apologize, defend it and tell any scolds where they can go.

10. There’s no best way to organize—just the best one for you!

Their book

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Stressing over the mess? Discover YOUR personal organizing style—and stay organized forever!
Organization isn’t one-size-fits-all. Different people need different solutions. Fortunately, Katie and Kelly McMenamin—the organizing gurus behind PixiesDidIt!®—have found the key to making organization stick, with strategies that work for every personality.Whether you’re OCD or a little less fastidious, Katie and Kelly will help you discover your organizational style, using unconventional approaches or sticking to what already works. Along with personality-based solutions for every space in your home, they offer advice on solving strife between different “PixieTypes.” So you can keep the stuff you love . . . and the peace!

Author Biography

Katie McMenamin and Kelly McMenamin are sisters, professional organizers, personality-type experts, and founders of PixieDidIt! Their business is an outgrowth of buttoned-up hedge fund analyst Kelly spending 30-odd years trying and failing to get her messy older sister Katie, a writer, to be more organized. Countless fights ensued until they had an idea: What if there is more than one way to organize? Today, they spend the bulk of their time organizing for clients, writing for their website, and giving talks on how to organize according to your personality type. Kelly lives in NYC with her husband and three sons and Katie lives in their hometown, the Land of Champions, aka Cleveland, OH, with her husband and three daughters.

Giveaway:

https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js” target=”_blank”>1 Finished Copy of ORGANIZE YOUR WAY (US Only)
 

Review: Paper Princess (The Royals #1) by Erin Watt

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From strip clubs and truck stops to southern coast mansions and prep schools, one girl tries to stay true to herself.

Ella Harper is a survivor—a pragmatic optimist. She’s spent her whole life moving from town to town with her flighty mother, struggling to make ends meet and believing that someday she’ll climb out of the gutter. After her mother’s death, Ella is truly alone.

Until Callum Royal appears, plucking Ella out of poverty and tossing her into his posh mansion among his five sons who all hate her. Each Royal boy is more magnetic than the last, but none as captivating as Reed Royal, the boy who is determined to send her back to the slums she came from.

Reed doesn’t want her. He says she doesn’t belong with the Royals. He might be right.

Wealth. Excess. Deception. It’s like nothing Ella has ever experienced, and if she’s going to survive her time in the Royal palace, she’ll need to learn to issue her own Royal decrees.

Goodreads

Published: 4th April 2016

I completely binge read this during my exams so if I fail, it’s on you Erin Watt.

Okay so let me begin by saying that this was the trashiest piece of crap that I have ever read but I have also never been so addicted to a series in my life.

So let’s start from the top:

It was trashy af

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This book was so trashy guys. So in the book, Ella gets swept up and put in her new guardian’s home. Her guardian just so happens to have five boys. Two of which she ends up sleeping with in a matter of days.

I was just amazed by that alone.

Not to mention all the weird crap that the Royal boys do including threatening to rape her at one point. Like what even?

It was so sexist

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The novel, as you would probably expect, was really sexist. Ella was just constantly this damsel in distress that needed to be protected by her big, strong, hunky brothers. GAG.

I mean, for a girl who spent her life fighting for survival in places like a strip club, you would expect her to be able to take care of herself better and to not depend so much on the men in her life.

This brings me to my next point.

It read like fan fiction

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Okay as a girl, even I will admit that the whole damsel in distress thing and the guy being all protective and sweet is a very appealing idea. In my head. Trust me when I say that while most girls have this fantasy, no one actually gets that in real life.

If you somehow have a man who takes care of you like you’re absolutely helpless and who only wants to cuddle and take care of you instead of his own needs, you’re probably not in a very healthy relationship.

Which is actually why I think everyone goes crazy over these books while also admitting that it is literary trash. Because even though none of us will ever admit it, the book basically takes everything we daydream about as girls and puts it into a book.

I mean Reed was selfless to the point that it was unrealistic. Ella was helpless to the point that it was annoying. But still these books sell like hotcakes. Something must be up, no?

What was with the incest?

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I talked about this with Tina who insisted that Reed and Ella hooking up was fine because technically they were not related. But I always found that a bit strange. I mean technically Ella is their sister now. Even if it’s not by blood, she lives in the house and they now kind of share a father.

To me, it was incest and I didn’t get why no one, especially Callum, had a problem with it. Even the kids at their school acted like it was fine. That was just plain weird.

Yet, it was still so addictive

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However, after everything I’ve just said, I’m still giving this book a damn high rating because screw it, it was so addictive. I fell in love with the whole story and the characters (annoying and stupid as they were). I really just enjoyed this book and it was the perfect escape.

I mean it really felt good to have a book that wasn’t so politically correct you know?

Nowadays authors just want to be politically correct with gender equality and never portraying a woman as unable to do something a man can do. While that kind of thinking is obviously what we need as a society in the real world, sometimes it’s nice to let go of that for a bit in a  fictitious world.

So if you need a light read to binge, this series is 100% for you. I know I particularly enjoyed it because I was so stressed with my exams and assignments that this book was just a really good way to destress because it didn’t require very many brain cells.

My-Rating-4-Stars

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Review: Close Your Eyes by Nicci Cloke

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Southfield High School is oh so normal, with its good teachers, its bad, and its cliques. But despite the cliques, there’s a particular group of friends who have known each other forever and know that they can rely on each other for anything.

There’s the twins: Aisha, rebellious, kind, and just a tiny bit worried about what the hell she’s going to do once this year is over, and Vis, smart, quiet and observant. Then there’s Remy, the loudmouth, and Gemma, who’s more interested in college boys and getting into the crap club in town. And then there’s Elise: the pretty one.

But at the start of Year 11, when the group befriend the new boy, Elijah, things start to change. The group find themselves not as close as they used to be.

Until one Tuesday, when the students are trapped inside the school building. And one of them has a gun.

Close Your Eyes is the story of a school shooting which, through interviews, messages and questionable actions, asks: Who is truly responsible?

Goodreads

Published: 23rd February 2017

Before I start this review, I would like to invite you to watch the following video if you have not.

 

This novel felt like the expanded version of this video. Where you’re so busy paying attention to the main character that you forget to look around. Okay I’ll stop before I give away too much.

This is a spoiler-free, plot-loving space!

Pros

The unique way the story was told

The story was told through the use of interview transcript, forum and text messages and then bits of narrative. It was honestly very interesting and I really liked it. It broke the monotony and it just made it a lot more fun to read.

It also helped the reader to see things from different perspectives  which was cool.

The plot twist

About in the middle of the book, there is an epic plot twist and then the other half of the book is spent explaining how that twist makes sense. Honestly guys, the plot twist alone is the main reason why you should read this book. It was epic. It really was. You will completely not see it coming.

The well-developed characters

In the book, we have a group of friends and different points of view but what I liked about the book was that they were all equally well-developed. They were all very well rounded characters and each of them were important to the story and were treated as such.

I think a lot of books tend to sometimes neglect certain supporting characters but in this book, everyone was given almost equal treatment which is why the plot twist was so much more satisfying.

The characters were also all flawed. What I liked was that they were so human that even though they tried to do good, they sometimes slipped and they sometimes hurt each other. It was like I could totally imagine them as real human beings in the real world which I liked a lot.

Cons

It was draggy

One of the biggest, and really the only, problem that I had with the book was the fact that I felt like a large part of it was really dragged out especially in the first half of the book.

I found it very hard to get hooked onto the storyline and I found myself putting it down many times in favour of another book. It was only when it hit the middle mark that things started to pick up and then all of a sudden the pace just switched and everything happened so fast and then it was over just like that.

Consistency is what I like people!

Overall

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel. I personally have always enjoyed books about school shootings because it gives you this inside look at what would eventually drive a person to doing something so heinous, so this book for me, was incredible.

In fact, I’ve read and watched a couple of school shooting things in the past like This Is Where It Ends and I’ve watched We Need To Talk About Kevin (the best school shooting movie you will ever watch I swear) and I have to say that this was the most unique and the most notable.

It was really fantastic and everyone needs to read this. And yes, I know I say that about loads of the books that I read but I’m dead serious okay.

Trust me.

*An advanced copy of this book was provided to me to read and review by Pansing. However, all opinions are my own*

My-Rating-4-Stars

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Unboxing: The December Book Boyfriend Box 

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Let me just start by saying that I know this unboxing is coming late. I am aware of that. It’s just that the box arrived quite late because of where I live and by the time it had come, I was swamped with assignments and exams and life was so hectic that I just had no time to sit down and write it.

I did unbox it on my Instagram though so if you were following me (@twentythreepages) you might have seen it on my story.

But since the Book Boyfriend team very kindly sent me a box, I wanted to still put up a full review. So here it is:

We Are Tornados By Michael Kun and Susan Mullen

It’s the summer of 1982, and for Scott and Cath, everything is about to change.

Growing up across the street from each other, Scott and Cath have been best friends for most of their lives. Now they’ve graduated high school, and Cath is off to college while Scott stays at home trying to get his band off the ground. Neither of them realized that their first year after high school would be so hard.

Fortunately, Scott and Cath still have each other, and it’s through their letters that they survive heartache, annoying roommates, family dramas, and the pressure of figuring out what to do with the rest of their lives. And through it all, they realize that the only person they’ve ever wanted to turn to is each other. But does that mean they should think about being more than friends? One thing is clear: Change is an inescapable part of growing up, and we share unbreakable bonds with the friends who help us navigate it.

Goodreads

The book that came with this box was We Are Tornados by Michael Kun and Susan Mullen.

It’s a young adult contemporary book and it looks so good!

I’ve actually heard so much about this book before it was even published and I’m sure it had a lot to do with the gorgeous cover. Anyway, this is a hardback copy (you guys know I have a soft spot for hardbacks) and I literally can’t wait to start reading it.

A Signed Book Plate

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Inside the book, I found a signed bookplate by Michael Kun and Susan Mullen, the authors of the featured novel. So that was really cool. I’ve actually only ever gotten one other signed postcard so this was cool.

Other Cool Paper Things

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In addition to the signed book plate, there was a postcard with a playlist from the book, a handwritten letter from Michael Kun and Susan Mullen to the Book Boyfriend subscribers, a card with readathon dates, a postcard with February’s theme on it and a signed postcard by R.S. McCoy, the author of Blossom and The Beast.

Literary  Tea

The next thing in the box was a packet of tea from the First Edition Tea Co. The tea was Pride and Prejudice themed and it was a citrus-y type of tea that honestly tasted amazing. As tea goes, I never really get how they can be literary except for the packaging but I thought this was super cute.

A Jane Austen Notepad

Next, we have a notepad with a Jane Austen quote on it as well as some blue roses. It’s absolutely gorgeous and I have literally fallen in love with it. And the best part is that it goes perfectly with the next item in the box.

A Feathered Ink Pen

In the box, there was a plastic quill pen that is actually a ball point pen. Mine was gold though I think some people got different colours. Regardless, how cute is it? I can’t wait to use it to write on my notepad.

Pride and Prejudice Soap

Now this was my absolute favourite part of the entire box and I have to say that I could smell this soap before I even opened the  box and after that, all I wanted to do was to sit there and sniff this beauty.

So in the box, I found a lavender soap from The McBath. They do really natural soaps with quotes on them. This quote was obviously from Pride and Prejudice. The soap was lavender and it had little exfoliating things in them.

Now usually, I hate bar soaps but with this one, I have been absolutely obsessed and I’ve been in love with it since receiving it. I use it almost everyday actually.

A Literary Coaster

The final item in the box, and another favourite, was this cute coaster. It’s a solid coaster with a page from a book in it. What I really like about it is that it is very sturdy and will not spoil if you put a cold drink down. It’s very durable and I love it. It looks gorgeous on my night stand.

So there you go! Everything that was in the December Book Boyfriend box. I apologise that this is coming late but guys, Book Boyfriend literally have the best boxes that I have ever received. They really provide you with value for money. I mean just the hardback alone is worth the price you pay.

If you would like to find out more or to order your own box, visit The Book Boyfriend’s website. Their June box will be going on sale on April 12th. You can also use my special discount code, ’23PAGES’, to get 10% off of your first box at checkout.

Once again, a huge thank you to The Book Boyfriend Box team for sending this treat my way!

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Review: A List of Cages by Robin Roe

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When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he’s got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn’t easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can’t complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian—the foster brother he hasn’t seen in five years.

Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He’s still kindhearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what’s really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives…

Goodreads

Published: 10th January 2017

I took an abnormally long time to finish this book because I kept putting it down for something else. That’s not to say that the book wasn’t good. Just that it wasn’t entirely gripping and at times it felt like it had been all done before.

Pros

Extremely heartwarming

The book in itself was very heartwarming. I loved the whole big brother  looking out for a boy that they used to foster thing. It was very sweet and I loved that.

The plot twist

I liked the twist at the end. While I think in a lot of ways, it was very expected, it also had that element of surprise when you realise that what actually happened didn’t really happen.

I’m trying to be vague so I don’t spoil anything but I think I’m doing a bad job at it.

Okay moving on.

It was relatable

The entire book was very relatable especially to me because I have ADHD. I really enjoyed reading a book from that perspective. It actually gave me a lot of Fish In A Tree vibes.And you guys know I loved Fish in A Tree.

I really related to a lot of the struggles that Julian went through including all his feelings of inadequacy and like he was always a third wheel. I think honestly anyone could probably relate to Julian in many ways.

Cons

Unrealistic

My only problem with this book was the fact that it was really unrealistic. At times, certain things about Adam just didn’t seem real. I mean yes, there are good people in this world. But a boy as popular as Adam, taking such an interest in a boy that essentially got placed in his home and who his mother is obsessed with, was just strange. I would have expected at least some jealousy on Adam’s part. Or at least some slip up or some flaw.

I didn’t expect wholehearted devotion to Julian which is what we got.

Overall this was a very heartwarming book that was unfortunately rather unremarkable. The writing was good. The storyline was strong. But this story has been overdone.

*An advanced copy was provided to me to read and review. However, all opinions are my own.*

My-Rating-4-Stars

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