Friday, July 31, 2015

Title: Identical
Author: Ellen Hopkins
Narrator:  Laura Flanagen
Series: Stand Alone
Length:  8 hrs 42 mins
Publisher: HighBridge Audio
Publication Date: September 19, 2008
Source: Library
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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Do twins begin in the womb? Or in a better place?

Kaeleigh and Raeanne are identical down to the dimple. As daughters of a district-court judge father and a politician mother, they are an all-American family -- on the surface. Behind the facade each sister has her own dark secret, and that's where their differences begin.

For Kaeleigh, she's the misplaced focus of Daddy's love, intended for a mother whose presence on the campaign trail means absence at home. All that Raeanne sees is Daddy playing a game of favorites -- and she is losing. If she has to lose, she will do it on her own terms, so she chooses drugs, alcohol, and sex.

Secrets like the ones the twins are harboring are not meant to be kept -- from each other or anyone else. Pretty soon it's obvious that neither sister can handle it alone, and one sister must step up to save the other, but the question is -- who?

Ellen Hopkins has been on my radar for about a year and a half now. She was coming to visit a school around here, and there were a bunch of parents who had a problem with it. It was all over the local news. I had never read anything of hers, so I didn't make an appearance, but her name has stuck with me ever since.

So when I saw Identical in audio on my Library, and it was available, I borrowed it. I can honestly say I had no idea what I was getting my self into starting a Hopkins novel. Holy Shit... What The Fuck Did I Just Read!

This book is not for everyone, I can tell you that right now. You don't like graphic talk about molestation, drugs or bad language, then turn away now. If you are like me, then you will love it for the sheer messed upness. I know upness isn't a word but I'm using it.

I loved this story. I should probably rephrase that, I didn't particularly like what was going on with either sister. It was heart breaking and down right sickening to watch one be destroyed and the other destroy herself, but it was real. There is such a raw realness to how Hopkins portrays these characters.

I saw a review that mentioned Identical is written in verse. I've never paid much attention to that when picking up a story, but I have to say with Identical, it was pure perfection. I mean, she puts all of these horrible things into the most beautiful writing style. I think it really balanced it out for me.

There is a twist towards the end, and I was right on with my guess. It didn't take me long to figure it out, but I wasn't disappointing to realize early on, it just added to the depth of their story. I really liked the narrator too, She separated Kaeleigh and Raeanne's voices so well.

That family is so screwed up. This book will take you on a ride you won't soon forget. Make sure you have your tissues and gag reflex ready. lol.

About the author:

Ellen HopkinsEllen Hopkins is the New York Times bestselling author of Crank, Burned, Impulse,
Glass, Identical, Tricks, Fallout, Perfect, Triangles, Tilt, and Collateral. She lives in Carson City, Nevada, with her husband and son. Hopkin's Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest pages get thousands of hits from teens who claim Hopkins is the "only one who understands me", and she can be visited at

Like most of you here, books are my life. Reading is a passion, but writing is the biggest part of me. Balance is my greatest challenge, as I love my family, friends, animals and home, but also love traveling to meet my readers. Hope I meet many of you soon!

Find Ellen:

Website | Twitter | FacebookGoodreads

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Summer's coming to an end sooner than we wish, so Katie and I figured we'd better get some reading in before school starts back at the end of next month. The wonderful folks at Macmillan sent over all of the lovely children's books pictured above for us to review and below you'll find both of our thoughts on Wild Feelings; Good Night, Firefly; and Little Bird's Bad Word.

I do want to note that Katie was already reading at a 2nd grade level in the middle of first grade last year, and she was able to read all three of these books completely on her own, with no assistance from me. I think all of these books were rated for ages 7-9, and they were perfect for my little reader, who would like you to know that she's 7 1/2. =D

Title: Wild Feelings
Author/Illustrator: David Milgrim
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication Date: August 4, 2015
Source: ARC from publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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Do you ever feel as stubborn as a mule? Or as chicken as a chicken? Of course you do. Everyone does.

In this lighthearted look at feelings, David Milgrim tenderly and humorously sketches the emotional range--from awkward to unnoticed, to really, rrrreally mad. Ultimately reassuring, this is a loving look at the normal, natural feelings we all have.

Katie:  I liked this book a lot. I liked the pictures and that it talked about all the wild feelings a person can have. I liked how in the story the people looked like the animals they felt like.

Jen:  Wild Feelings was a cute look at the normal feelings we all have. It's basically telling your little reader that it's okay to have all kinds of feelings…that it's completely natural because everyone feels that way at some time or another. It was a cute idea to incorporate the animals associated with some of the feelings -- "as stubborn as a mule" -- into the pictures, as well. This book would have really come in handy a year or two ago when Katie was more prone to temper tantrums. ;0)

Title: Good Night, Firefly
Author/Illustrator: Gabriel Alborozo
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication Date: June 2, 2015
Source: ARC from publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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Nina is afraid of the dark. Luckily she has a nightlight, but one night the power goes out. So Nina traps a firefly to keep her company. She has a jolly time with her new friend, until she soon realizes that the firefly doesn't feel the same way, and she must let it go.

This irresistible bedtime story has stunning black-and-white illustrations accented with glowing spots of color--as magical as fireflies themselves!

Katie:  I LOVE fireflies. I like to catch them. This book was pretty. The pictures had good detail. I liked that Nina had the idea to use the firefly's electricity to light up her room. This was my favorite book that we read today.

Jen:  Like Katie, this was my favorite book in the bunch. I liked the color contrast in the images, between black and white and dark and light, and the pops of color that accent the images. It was definitely visually appealing, but it was also the ingenious little tale of a girl who's afraid of the dark and takes charge of her fear by calling on a new friend for help.

This was also the longest story in the bunch, but as we adore fireflies and the pictures were really pretty to look at, the book just flew by. I can see this fast becoming a favorite bedtime story in our house.

Title: Little Bird's Bad Word
Author/Illustrator: Jacob Grant
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Publication Date: July 21, 2015
Source: ARC from publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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Little Bird is excited to share a new word with his friends. But as he finds out, that word isn't so nice.

Little Bird learned a new word! He loves it so much that he's bursting to share it with all of his friends.


The only problem is, this isn't a very nice word. Little Bird doesn't realize it, but this word might even hurt someone's feelings. What word will Little Bird learn to make things better?

Jacob Grant is a great new talent whose words AND art have extraordinary humor. Readers will surely find the very apologetic Little Bird adorable!

Katie:  The pictures were pretty and colorful. And I liked that Little Bird said he was sorry to everyone because it was nice.

Jen:  Bad words are kind of a hot topic in our house these days. I cuss like a sailor and Katie's accidentally repeated a word she's heard a time or two without really understanding what she's saying or what it means. Oops! So, we totally get where Little Bird and Papa Bird are coming from.

That said, I had a hard time concentrating on the story once the bad word was out because it sorta sounds like my new favorite ship from The 100 and all I could think about was how I can't believe I have to wait until next year for new episodes. Waaaaahhhhh. :P

I hope you guys enjoy the rest of your summer and get some reading in before school, too! :D

Can we put summer on pause, please? It's going by way too fast. But with summer comes the SYNC Young Adult Listener Program. They recently announced the list of audiobook pairings up for grabs this summer, and today kicks off the 13th week of the program for 2015. Here's what you can grab through Wednesday of next week...for free!

This week's YA title is Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickels by Tanya Lee Stone, performed by J.D. Jackson for Brilliance Audio.

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World War II was raging, with thousands of American soldiers fighting overseas against the injustices brought on by Hitler. Back on the home front, the injustice of discrimination against African Americans was playing out as much on Main Street as in the military. Enlisted black men were segregated from white soldiers and regularly relegated to service duties. At Fort Benning, Georgia, First Sergeant Walter Morris’s men served as guards at The Parachute School while the white soldiers prepared to be paratroopers. Morris knew that in order for his men to be treated like soldiers, they would have to train and act like them, but would the military elite and politicians recognize the potential of these men, as well as their passion for serving their country? Tanya Lee Stone examines the role of African Americans in the military through the lens of the untold story of the Triple Nickles as they became America’s first black paratroopers and fought a little-known World War II attack on the American West by the Japanese. The 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, in the words of Morris, “proved that the color of a man had nothing to do with his ability.”

This week's classic title is John Ball's In the Heat of the Night adapted by Matt Pelfrey, performed by Ryan Vincent Anderson, Michael Hammond, Kalen Harriman, Travis Johns, James Morrison, Darren Richardson & Tom Virtue for L.A. Theatre Works.

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Based on John Ball’s novel which inspired the Oscar-winning film and the Emmy-winning television series, In the Heat of the Night pits a visiting black detective from California against a small Alabama town simmering with anger over desegregation. A fitting reflection of America in the 1960s, this Off-Broadway hit is provocative, timely, and uncomfortably relevant. Please note: This title contains strong and racially charged language.

Will you be picking up either of these titles? Remember, they're only available through Wednesday, and new titles will be put up on Thursday for download. To download this week's titles, just click here to be taken directly to the SYNC download page.

I hope you take advantage of this program. I've been doing it for the last few years, and I've had the opportunity to listen to a ton of great audio for free.  If you've never tried audiobooks before, it's a great opportunity to do so without the obligation of buying one that you might not enjoy.  And if you love audiobooks, well, it's a great time to stock up on some titles you may have missed or discover new ones.  Win/win.  =)

Happy listening!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

So, last month I participated in the "Blog Most Likely To..." promotion and mentioned that I'd be re-reading My Life Next Door by way of the audiobook. I did and it was awesome. But I expected nothing less. =) This month, we're re-reading What I Thought Was True in anticipation of Tim's story in the follow-up to My Life Next Door. The book isn't related to that companion series, but it's still an awesome Huntley Fitzpatrick novel and more than worthy of a re-read. I reviewed the book back in June of 2012 when I first read it, but I had some further thoughts to add to the conversation now that I'm done with my re-read, er, listen…

Title: What I Thought Was True
Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Narrator(s): Erin Spencer
Series: stand-alone
Length: 12 hrs 51 mins
Publisher: Dial BFYR
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Source: purchased HC, borrowed audiobook from library
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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From the author of My Life Next Door comes a swoony summertime romance full of expectation and regret, humor and hard questions.

Gwen Castle's Biggest Mistake Ever, Cassidy Somers, is slumming it as a yard boy on her Nantucket-esque island this summer. He's a rich kid from across the bridge in Stony Bay, and she hails from a family of fishermen and housecleaners who keep the island's summer people happy. Gwen worries a life of cleaning houses will be her fate too, but just when it looks like she'll never escape her past—or the island—Gwen's dad gives her some shocking advice. Sparks fly and secret histories unspool as Gwen spends a gorgeous, restless summer struggling to resolve what she thought was true—about the place she lives, the people she loves, and even herself—with what really is.

A magnetic, push-me-pull-me romance with depth, this is for fans of Sarah Dessen, Jenny Han, and Deb Caletti.

My original review can be found here, but below are some other thoughts I had upon my second reading of this fabulous book:

Gwen's crazy, mixed-up family is crazy awesome. Huntley likes to create these really diverse, chaotic family situations in her books and they just feel so genuine. I come from a small immediate family, but our family reunions kind of look something like the everyday for one of the families in her stories.

I love that Gwen is a real girl. She's 17 but she's by no means your simpering virginal waif. She's sarcastic and witty and cares deeply for her family and friends. Gwen doesn't hide from her mistakes, but she is learning from them through a little trial and error.

Even before we knew the big THING between them, I knew Cass was wrongfully cast as the bad guy from the beginning. He's just too sweet to her, too caring and protective, and he is just SO good with her little brother. Jase ranks very high among my book boyfriends, but Cass isn't trailing too far behind.

Huntley is not afraid to go there. Her characters have sex. They talk about having sex. They have serious and honest and open discussions about safe sex. Quite frankly, I haven't read too many novels, contemporary or otherwise, that I can say handle this subject as well as this author does.

The ending was kind of unexpected. Not for Gwen and Cass, but for other, equally important side characters. The author really likes to shake things up. :)

Erin Spencer was a great choice for narrator, and she even shares a name with one of the characters. She's got that Gwen's sarcasm down pat, and she reads with feeling to boot.

As I said in my initial review: I really think Huntley Fitzpatrick has outdone herself in the realistic characters and relatable plot departments. I can't think of another novel that felt this genuine and true-to-life, while at the same time consisting of diverse characters that are far from stereotypical. The writing is spectacular and witty, but I'd expect nothing less from such a talented author. What I Thought Was True is raw and funny, sad and hopeful, and I think that most fans of her previous novel will really enjoy this second book from Fitzpatrick. Now I'm even more anxious for the follow-up to My Life Next Door, which is Tim's story, due out next month!

GIF it to me straight:
I devour Huntley Fitzpatrick books.

About the Author:

Huntley Fitzpatrick grew up dreamy and distracted in coastal Connecticut. She flourished in a family of bookworms where everyone always had their nose in a book. She kept an exhaustively thorough journal which frightened her boyfriends but has proved very useful in her career as a writer. Her debut contemporary Romance, MY LIFE NEXT DOOR, was published in June of 2012 by Penguin-Dial for Young Readers. Now she laughs with and eavesdrops on her six children who provide her with perspective and material. She is represented by the amazing Christina Hogrebe of the Jane Rotrosen Agency.

Find Huntley:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Goodreads

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Happy reading!

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's WoW selection is...

's Pick:

Title: The Impostor Queen
Author: Sarah Fine
Series: stand-alone (?)
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: January 5, 2016

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Sixteen-year-old Elli was a small child when the Elders of Kupari chose her to succeed the Valtia, the queen who wields infinitely powerful ice and fire magic. Since then, Elli has lived in the temple, surrounded by luxury and tutored by magical priests, as she prepares for the day when the Valtia perishes and the magic finds a new home in her. Elli is destined to be the most powerful Valtia to ever rule.

But when the queen dies defending the kingdom from invading warriors, the magic doesn’t enter Elli. It’s nowhere to be found.

Disgraced, Elli flees to the outlands, the home of banished criminals—some who would love to see the temple burn with all its priests inside. As she finds her footing in this new world, Elli uncovers devastating new information about the Kupari magic, those who wield it, and the prophecy that foretold her destiny. Torn between the love she has for her people and her growing loyalty to the banished, Elli struggles to understand the true role she was meant to play. But as war looms, she must align with the right side—before the kingdom and its magic are completely destroyed.

First of all, I will always, always read a new Sarah Fine book. Her stories are so inventive and evocative and just amazing, and her characters always face such hardships. And a story about a girl who is not the chosen one? Yesh! I cannot wait for this. I've been taking my sweet time with Of Dreams and Rust just because I don't have another Sarah Fine book in my possession yet...

What are you desperately waiting for this Wednesday? Let us know in the comments or share a link to your own WoW post!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the awesome ladies at The Broke and the Bookish. Apparently, they are overly fond of list-making and love to share their bookish lists with the rest of us book nerds.  =) We're game.

This week's topic is the Ten Characters Who Are Fellow Book Nerds (love reading, are writers, work at a bookstore, etc.):

Jen's Picks:

At first, I found it kind of difficult to think of nerdy characters I loved, even though I thought this topic would be super easy. But once I got going, I discovered way more than ten. I was able to narrow it down to just ten favorites though (books, not characters…there are a few couples in my list, lol): Hermione, Kami, Celaena, Josie, Beth & Lincoln, Elizabeth, Julia, Lara Jean, Paige & Max, and Cath & Levi. =)

Which novels made your list? Be sure to share a link to your TTT post so we can visit!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Some things that happened while I was away:

  • I got the most awesome The Princess Bride-themed birthday present from my older sister who just knows me so well.
  • I'm participating in the 3rd round of #otspsecretsister. It's my first time, but I'm really excited about my sister because I've been mildly acquainted with her almost since I started blogging, I think, but now I'll have a chance to really get to know her. =)
  • I taught my older sis how to use Instagram after she begged me to. And then she was like, "That's it?" :P She doesn't really get the appeal, and she asked it all I ever did was post pics of books. Ha!
  • I had the best dream about Celaena Sardothien as a badass superhero fighting alongside a Batman who had real bat wings and it was fucking awesome. Of course, anything that involves Celaena is fucking awesome.
  • ETA: OMG, I can't believe I almost forgot to mention seeing a Joseph Gordon-Levitt look-alike at the restaurant I was eating at in Austin on Saturday night. He was such an adorable suspender-wearing cutie, and I just wanted to beg him to lip-sync for me. Of course, he was there with some chick who had NO clue how lucky she was. 
Anyway, I'm back from vacation and I was supposed to put up a review or something or anything today, and I wasn't feeling it last night when we got home, so I just did nothing. Okay, well, not nothing because we watched Big Hero 6 and then finished up the night with the last of the Harry Potter weekend on ABC Family. Which, by the way, we'd started before we left my sister's house earlier in the day. =D #HarryPotterForever

But I digress. I just haven't felt any kind of inspiration to blog lately, not in any kind of formal way, at least. Like, reviews schmeviews, for reals. It's sooooo much easier for me to just word vomit like this than to actually think of something intelligent and eloquent to say about a book when it feels like I'm just repeating myself in all of my reviews. The heroine was badass. The story kept me turning the pages. The supporting cast of characters was well-drawn. Blah blah blah. So, I think I'm going to go all unprofesh on you guys and just gush away from now on. It's easier, and honestly, I don't even really think people are reading reviews on blogs that much anymore. I know I'm not. When I really want to check out reviews, I look up the book on Goodreads and peruse those before deciding whether to pick up the book or not...and even then I might just be looking at star ratings and nothing else. As long as I'm promoting the books I receive for review, it doesn't matter how I review them, does it? Or when, right...'cause I'm seriously tired of pushing back books I'm really excited about because of my "TBR schedule". So, yeah, I'm seriously going to go back to being just a book lover who gushes about the books she loves. It feels right.

And in the meantime, I hope to do some real writing. I've got an itch to write all of a sudden. I used to write all the time when I was younger, but I'm such a perfectionist that I re-read all of my stories later and threw them all away. I know. Except for some stupid essays that I wrote in high school and college, I threw everything in the garbage, except for some really, really bad poetry that should have been trashed. I don't know what I was thinking. But I think part of the reason I've been feelings so down and put-out lately is because I used to get out all my feelings on paper, whether it be in a journal or short story or really crappy poem. But it helps to have that outlet...and even if nothing comes of it, it'll still be time well-spent because maybe it'll help keep me sane. Writing is just so cathartic for me…at least when the words are flowing.

I'm not happy at work, and I haven't been in awhile. It's kind of trickling down into everything else. I should actually be working instead of typing this up because I'm rather behind after being out of the office for a week, but I can't find the here I am. The thing is, I'd love to change jobs, but I don't want to do what I'm currently doing anymore. I used to joke that I "work with numbers by day and words by night" and that it should be my superhero mantra or whatever, but the truth is, I hate numbers. I only work in accounting because it comes so naturally to me. And I really hate the direction my company is headed in. But I don't know what I'd do if not this. I'm not really qualified for anything else, though my BIL frequently tells me that the length of time I've been with my current employer would be a big sell for potential employers, regardless. It's been so long since I even had to consider all of this, though. And honestly, I just want to do something that involves writing or editing or reading or just books in general.

Reading would be ideal because I'm SO far behind on my TBR. Hah! Only in my dreams, lol. I thought I'd get a crap ton of reading done over vacation, but as it turns out, I only read one book in full. Pretty lame, right? But I did spend some quality time with Katie and I got to see my sis, whom I haven't seen since our last vacation to Universal Studios. It always comes back to Harry Potter, doesn't it? :0)

So, that's where I'm at right now. I know I had more to say, but that'll have to wait for another day. Or when I'm not getting ready to leave the office for the day. :P But I'm back, and I'll be around, lurking as usual. :D

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Weekend Update - 7.25.15

Saturday, July 25, 2015 with 7 comments
So, since my end-of-the-week post isn't just about what I got in my mailbox or on my Kindle each week -- though that is a big part of it, I won't lie -- I decided to change up the title and intro a bit.  I might tweak the format a bit over the next few weeks, but for the most part, it'll contain the same stuff: stuff I got, stuff I did, and stuff that's coming up on the blog.  Plus, I get to use the awesome GIF you see here and blow kisses to all the people who sent me lovely books and bookish things.  Oh, and I've started linking up to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews since I'm not using a specific meme title anymore.  April's also doing her own Stacking the Shelves posts on Sundays.  Stop by and say hi!  =)

I was off the entire week, and I only made it fully through one book. :( But I enjoyed my time off with my Katiebug. :D And we're enjoying one last mini-vacation before summer is over at Schlitterbahn today while we're in Austin visiting family. Even so, I am so not ready to go back to work. =(

Anyway, here's what I scored this week:

For Review/Traded/Won:

For review, I received Storm Siren and Siren's Fury by Mary Weber, thanks to Wunderkind PR. And from HarperCollins, I received an unsolicited package featuring Very in Pieces, Infinite in Between, One, and Truest. I traded some awesome peeps for finished copies of This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales and Winterspell by Claire LeGrand and an ARC of Kinslayer by Jay Kristoff for my collection. And thanks to the wonderful Jaime at Fiction Fare, I won signed copies of Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch and Open Road Summer by Emery Lord.

I've got a few more trades in progress, too. If you're interested in trading books with me, check out this post. =)


I can't believe I can say this again this week, but I actually didn't pick up anything from the library. Though, this mostly has to do with the fact that I've been doing so much re-reading lately. :)


I was a good girl this week. Though I did spend some time getting some pre-orders in. =)


MarchLittle Women (Little Women, #1)

I adored Louisa May Alcott's Little Women when I was younger, so I am definitely grabbing this week's SYNC audiobooks. You can find out more on how to download them for free yourselves here. :)

So, that's my haul. :) How about you? What did you get this week?

The Week in Review:


Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss, #3)

Current Giveaways:

I'm thinking of doing a big grab bag box giveaway kind of like Jamie of FictionFare did on Instagram recently. Any interest in that? It'll be the books from my #booksfortrade list. =)

Promotional/Discussion Posts:  
  • This week's #TTT is all about diversity. Check out my favorite diverse characters/stories!
  • #WoW - The Forbidden Orchid by Sharon Biggs Waller
  • SYNC Week #12 featuring March and Little Women

Jen's Currently Reading/Listening To:

The Boy Most Likely To (My Life Next Door, #2)Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass, #3)As of the time I'm typing this up, I'm only about 20% into this book, but I already love it. I haven't been able to wipe the stupid grin off my face yet. Except, THINGS just happened, and I'm kind of scared for Tim and Alice and what it all means for their futures…separately and together. *bites nails*

My sis is reading this series for the first time, and she keeps talking about it, and it was on my list to re-read, so I decided to start the audiobooks, beginning with The Assassin's Blade. That was last week. I've already read HOF and it gets off to a slow start. The same is true of the audio, but I'm sticking with it, if only for Queen of Shadows.

Upcoming Reviews:

Shimmer (The Rephaim, #3)Burn (The Rephaim, #4)The Boy Most Likely To (My Life Next Door, #2)

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