The Soundtrack of My Life – Track 3

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Caidyn's review (3)

Track 3: Love My Way by The Psychedelic Furs

Written by Vince Ely, Tim Butler, John Ashton & Richard Butler

Lyrics

Since I’m having trouble reading, I thought you guys would like to hear about another song that I adore. I mean, I don’t want you guys to forget about me.

Don't forget me, Adele

The next song on The Soundtrack of My Life is one that I discovered recently. It’s one of those songs I’ve heard before but never knew what it was called or who sang it. I’m sure that even though the title might not sound familiar, you’ve probably heard it too. Especially if you listen to 80’s music. Personally, I love the music from the 80’s. It has a lot of cheesiness but is also very genuine. Ever heard a cheesy 80’s love song? I’m sure you have, but that perfectly describes 80’s pop music in my opinion. The song I’m talking about today is the epitome of 80’s cheesiness and it’s called “Love My Way” by The Psychedelic Furs.

I have to upfront about something. I only know about this song because of Call Me By Your Name. Let me be frank, I hated that movie. I don’t want to get into it now because I could easily start ranting if I don’t contain myself but I’ll try not to. The only reason I bring up Call Me By Your Name is that this song is featured in a scene featuring some hilarious white boy dance moves from Armie Hammer. I’m not exaggerating when I say this scene was my favorite. In contrast to Armie Hammer’s inability to dance, Timothee Chalamet is smooth as he practically glides across the dance floor. This scene stood out to me with brief scenes in the trailer and in the movie it stood out even more when placed with “Love My Way”.

timothee dancing in CMBYN

I looked up the song immediately after seeing the movie as it was the one highlight. From the opening notes, everything in my body feels lighter. Like I’m dragging around a weight constantly and the only thing which can lift it is this song. I would describe the music itself as light and airy. I listen to a lot of music which is slow and heavy, but this song is anything but. I don’t blame anyone who wants to dance to this song, no matter their skill level.

armie hammer dancing

Actually, this is pretty much how I dance.

Now, why does this song belong on the Soundtrack? It doesn’t have anything to do with the lyrics honestly. It has more to do with how danceable and singable the song is. If I’m at home and this song comes on, my body moves and my mouth sings. Neither of which I am good at, but when I’m alone it doesn’t matter. Instead of causing an emotional reaction in me, this song causes a physical reaction and that alone is enough to land it on The Soundtrack to My Life.

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The Soundtrack of My Life – Track 2

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Caidyn's review (3)

Welcome back everyone to Chantel rambles on about music. Basically, I am building a soundtrack for my life as one would create a soundtrack for a movie. That’s one of the ways I see music, these songs define me and hold a special place in my heart because they make me feel something and I just want to share my passion with everyone.

Track 2: Unchained Melody by The Righteous Brothers

Written by: Hy Zaret

Lyrics

If “Latch” is the song that plays when I meet the love of my life, then “Unchained Melody” is the song that plays at our future wedding. This song is my favorite love song ever and I don’t know if anything can ever top it. I think this song is best known for its appearance in the movie Ghost while Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze are doing pottery. In that way, I think it’s seen as a cheesy love song while playing over a very suggestive scene. However, outside that context, I think it’s one of the best love songs ever written and recorded. It’s so simple in its melody and lyrics and the vocals are amazing. You’ll notice a pattern with the songs I choose for The Soundtrack of My Life, they all feature amazing vocals where you can hear what the singer is feeling. If I can feel it, then the song will connect to me far more than just a random song on the radio.

When the singer sings “I need your love,” I feel it in my bones. I’m a person who has a lot of feelings. I can easily get overwhelmed by my feelings. If I’m feeling sad, it overwhelms every part of me including my face and body language. If I’m happy it’s clear in my body. If I have a crush on someone, I light up and I can feel my entire body get warm. As a result of wearing my heart on my sleeve, I usually embarrass myself when I have a crush on someone. Whether it’s blushing or brightening up or talking their ear off for an hour. This situation isn’t relevant right now at all.

And now after that brief interlude, back to the song. “Unchained Melody” is a timeless song in my opinion. The vocals are soft, the drumbeat is simple, the violins are playing in the background but in a way that doesn’t overwhelm the vocals. It also builds from quiet and soft to passionate in its short 3 minutes and 35 seconds so that by the end of the song it has earned every emotion it pulls from you. It’s the singer being vulnerable with the person he loves and I think that’s incredibly beautiful. It’s such a simple thing to sing about how much you want someone and how much you love them, but I feel like it’s rare to have someone put so much feeling behind it. If nothing else, this song will make you believe in love.

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Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

Leah on the Offbeat cover

Goodreads

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda – 4/5 (no review)

(Chantel)

4.5/5 – I just want to state upfront that I absolutely loved this book. I thought it was adorable and I loved reading from Leah’s POV because I found her very similar to myself in a lot of ways. We both swear like sailors, we are both fat, we are both queer, and sometimes we come off like assholes. Especially in front our crushes. I can totally understand how some readers will find Leah off-putting, but I related so much. Let’s not forget that she’s a teenager and has a lot of angst, a lot of resentment toward her father for leaving her and her mother, being fat in a world that says that’s wrong, not being as well off as her friends are, and has a crush on her best friend’s girlfriend. I mean, there’s a lot going on there.

I have found that Becky Albertalli’s books take place in a world where everyone gets a happy ending. This is a sequel to Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda which I thought was delightful and had a similar happy ending. However, having lived the whole “have a huge crush on a straight friend” scenario, it was hard to see this book as realistic. Perhaps, I just have bad luck or Leah has really good luck. Either way, there were times where I was taken out of the story because of how well things seemed to go. Well, most things.

I also felt the pacing and the slow burn of Leah and Abby’s relationship could’ve gone differently. Instead, Leah did a lot of assuming and there was a lot of back and forth between the two which made up the majority of the drama in the story. However, other conflicts were ignored or dropped altogether and I think it would’ve fit better. Such as, Leah’s concern for Nick and how he would feel about her and Abby dating. That got brushed aside and I thought it could’ve been a huge part of the conflict in the book. I would’ve also preferred that Abby was upfront about her sexuality and feelings for Leah earlier in the book, but that is less bothersome to me.

I would like to point out a scene that rubbed me the wrong way when I read it and after I thought about it a little longer. There is a conversation between Leah and Abby in which Abby admits that she came out to her cousins as being “a little bit bi”, unfortunately, Leah completely disregards her personal label as not being a real label. There is no resolution to this scene and Leah doesn’t apologize for dismissing her label which could be harmful. However, the way I interpreted the scene was that Leah is an imperfect character and just because she is bisexual doesn’t mean that she is a perfect representation of a queer character. I see this as a flaw of Leah’s character in that she sees everything in black and white and rarely sees the grey in situations, but I would’ve preferred that she apologized to Abby for what she said because everyone should be free to label themselves as they want.

Overall, I’m so happy this book made it to number one on the NYT bestseller’s list. It’s so wonderful to see the books that are being bought in YA and I want this book to be as popular as Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. I will absolutely be buying a copy of this book soon and I would highly recommend it if anyone is looking for an adorable f/f contemporary romance.

 

Update from Chantel

Hey everyone! Chantel here! In the wrap up for April, Caidyn mentioned that I would put out a post of my own and here I am.

Here’s the truth, ever since January when I read the best book of all time #kweenevelynhugo I’ve been in a really bad reading slump. No seriously, all I’ve read in the last four months is Harry Potter. That’s not true, but I feel like it’s all I’ve read.

April was pretty much the low point for me. I didn’t finish any books at all. I started multiple but I still haven’t even finished Prisoner of Azkaban and I didn’t think that would be a struggle at all. Or All Out which I haven’t touched in weeks. I’ve felt very upset about this because I expect more out of myself. Reading doesn’t come easily to me and sometimes it’s more difficult than normal.

So that’s why I’m writing this post. I just want to let everyone know that I’m okay and I’m still here, but that I’ve been struggling with reading. I think things are starting to look up. I just finished a book today (I wrote this on Sunday), so look out for a review coming soon. I think it’s about going back to the reason I started this blog in the first place. To have a place to talk about books.

I don’t know if I’ve kicked this reading slump for good, but I know that right now I’m optimistic and I might not finish another book this month but I’m okay with what I’ve read.

The Soundtrack of my Life – Track 1

Caidyn's review (3)

I love music. I always have since I was little. There is just something about music that reaches deep inside my soul like nothing else can. The world easily fades away when I’ve got headphones in and am listening to my favorite song. I’m the person who walks down the street with headphones in and thinks she’s in a music video. Every song is added to The Soundtrack of my Life. If my life needed a soundtrack to go with it, the songs I talk about would be on it. These songs are some of my all-time favorite songs and span multiple genres.

Track 1: Latch by Discourse feat. Sam Smith

Written by: Jimmy Napes, Sam Smith, Guy Lawrence and Howard Lawrence 

Lyrics

I am a big Sam Smith fan. The songs I enjoy most are the ones where you can hear the emotion in the singer’s voice. Sam Smith is one of the best at doing that. His voice is so angelic to me and he never ceases to amaze me with how he can push the limits of his voice. Consistently he hits notes that I’ve rarely heard a man sing before and there’s absolutely something special to someone with that kind of talent. This will not be the last time he appears on the soundtrack I assure you of that. I mean, the man won an Oscar. He’s fucking talented.

Before his first album In the Lonely Hour came out which features most of his hit songs, he was featured on an electronic pop song called “Latch”. Now, I don’t listen to electronic music. It’s just not my genre. Most songs sound like the type of music you would hear in a club and I don’t go clubbing. Not even a little bit. However, every once in awhile there is a song that will stand out to me, but it’s not a type of music I know well. That being said, “Latch” is my favorite song of all time. There is something about the pulsing beat and electronic sounds combined with Sam Smith’s voice that creates magic.

Sam Smith has made a career out of writing the most heartbreaking songs about break-ups, cheating, or unrequited love. His songs aren’t usually happy or cheerful, to say the least. However, before he had this reputation he appears on “Latch” singing about falling in love (or lust) with the same power and desperation he has when singing about relationship angst. This song has a lot of power and frankly speaks to me more than his other songs do.

To me, this song is about seeing someone across the room and immediately wanting to be in their life. I connect with the lyrics so much because there’s almost something hopeful about it. One day I’ll walk into a room and across the room I’ll meet someone’s gaze and BOOM. I realize that this is naive and some might say idiotic, but that’s how I feel when I listen to this song. In The Soundtrack of my Life, this is the song playing when I meet my love interest.

Of course, I could be interpreting the song completely differently and it was intended to be creepier or more menacing. However, I don’t see it that way at all. Which is fine. There are people who find Every Breath You Take by The Police extremely romantic even though it’s been stated that it’s about a stalker. And that’s fine too. We all interpret art in our own way and there isn’t anything wrong with that. I just know it’s one of my favorite songs of all time, and I think that’s all because of Sam Smith’s voice and passion while singing it.

If you don’t believe me, just listen to this live performance of him singing the song. I hope his voice blows you away just as it blew me away.

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Fire Song by Adam Garnet Jones

fire song cover

Goodreads

(Chantel)

I received this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This has no influence on my rating. 

Also, this review is almost a month late. Sorry. 

CW: suicide and rape

4/5 – When I finished reading this book, I wasn’t sure how to feel. I had a lot of complicated feelings about it at the time and I still do. I just want to say right off the bat, that I really enjoyed it. I also think it’s a very important book because it’s from the perspective of a Native who is part of the Anishinaabe tribe in Canada. I have never read a book about a queer character who is Native, and that’s why I wanted to read this book. I also haven’t heard anyone talk about this book which I think is disappointing. We want more diverse books written by own voices, and yet here is a book with a queer Native main character written by an author who is both Native and gay. I do hope that I can at least get out the name of the book so those who have more influence can promote it as well. 

The main character in this book is Shane and things are complicated from the beginning. Shane’s younger sister Destiny has committed suicide. He has a girlfriend named Tara yet he is in a relationship with David. Now, I’m going to be upfront that I’m not a fan of this trope in M/M stories. I understand that it happens, especially in situations where homophobia is present. However, I always feel more sympathy for the girlfriends who are being used not the main character. Unfortunately, this was no different in Fire Song. However, Shane’s main storyline didn’t just revolve around his sexuality. There were plenty of other things going on in his life and while I don’t agree with the way he treated Tara, I did feel for him multiple times throughout the story. 

As a result of Destiny’s suicide, Shane and his mother are grieving her loss in two different ways and because of his mother’s lack of presence, he has to take care of them both. I definitely understood Shane’s motivations regarding the suicide of his sister, despite being in love with David, they hide their relationship and the only support he gets is from Tara. There were several times when I wanted to shake Shane and David for different reasons, but it was clear that Shane, in particular, was not comfortable being vulnerable or expressing himself emotionally. As a result, he does many, many stupid things.

This book also focused heavily on the struggle Shane had to deal with leaving the reservation for Toronto. I am not Native. Anything I know about reservations comes from Native authors I’ve read, but it’s made clear that there isn’t anything for Shane on the reservation. He is desperate to leave despite David wanting him to stay. His options are limited to drug dealing if he stays and the potential opportunity to have a career if he leaves. It seems like the choice should be simple, but Shane struggles financially when his education is supposed to be paid for. Throughout the book, he is at a crossroads with his future and with his relationships and it’s interesting to see the choices he makes when he no longer has time to dwell on them.

I want more people to read this book. I think it’s very important to read books from perspectives other than ours and see how others struggle with things we take for granted. We desperately need more diversity in queer lit, especially in YA, and so I hand you this book on a platter.

Take Your Medicine by Hannah Carmack

I received an ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

Take Your Medicine will be released on March 5th, 2018.

TakeYourMedicine-f

Goodreads

(Chantel)

2/5 – This story is a loose retelling of Alice in Wonderland in which a girl named Alice or “Al” as she likes to be called, has vasovagal syncope which is a fainting disorder. A chance meeting in the woods leads her to some new friends and a cute f/f romance.

There were things I really enjoyed about this book. I loved that it was queer. I enjoyed the main character Al, I enjoyed Al’s love interest who went by “Rabbit”. I thought their romance was adorable even if a bit rushed. I enjoyed the relationship between Al and her mother as well as the Alabama setting. The writing was good and I was entertained throughout despite not being a huge Alice in Wonderland fan. I think this book had a lot of potential and it didn’t end up living up to it for me.

For one, I think it was too short and because of that I didn’t get quite as invested as I would’ve liked. The story ended rather abruptly and I was left wanting more. If it had been lengthened, I might have enjoyed more of a slow burn romance between Al and Rabbit and would’ve liked the conflict between Al and her mom to be dragged out more. Instead, it almost felt incomplete as if there was more to the story than what I read.

Secondly, there was something about the concept of the main character wanting to be cured that rubbed me the wrong way. She has vasovagal syncope and as a result, she faints whenever she is overwhelmed. This causes her to get injured a few times as it’s not always safe for her to be out on her own in case she faints. However, she is adamant about wanting to be cured that she seeks out two girls her age that claim to be witches in order to find a cure. Spoiler alert: she’s not cured. This is still a theme throughout the book until at the very end she decides that she doesn’t care if she’s cured. It would’ve been nice to see more conflict within her about this.

Lastly, I think my main issue with this book was the fact that there were random chapters in which the POV changed from Al to her mother Laura, then later to Rabbit. I felt this was completely unnecessary as the POV shifts came completely out of nowhere and took me out of the story. It’s one thing to have multiple POVs, but that was never established from the beginning. In the beginning, Al is our narrator and yet there are at least two random POV shifts that didn’t work for me.

Overall, I would’ve liked this more if it had been a bit longer and I had more time to get invested in the characters. I think it had potential, but instead, it left me wanting more out of it.

Would You Rather: A Memoir of Growing Up and Coming Out by Katie Heaney

Would You Rather cover

Goodreads

(Chantel)

I received this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This has no influence on my rating. 

Would You Rather: A Memoir of Growing Up and Coming Out will be released on March 6th, 2018.

4/5 – This year, I wanted to read a non-fiction book by a queer author about being queer. This spoke out to me when I saw it on Netgalley because it was exactly what I was looking for. What I didn’t expect was to relate so strongly with the author’s experience in coming out later in life and finding out who she was at the age of twenty-eight.

Katie Heaney wrote a book called Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without a Date and it was released in 2014. She references this book often in Would You Rather because, in it, she describes never having dated, being a virgin at twenty-five, and being attracted to men. At the time she wrote that book, she had not accepted that she was a lesbian. She might not have even known despite the signs she points out in Would You Rather.

It is fascinating to have two different books, written at two different points in your life that demonstrate how things can change over the course of just a few years. At twenty-five, she is single, straight, and a virgin and at twenty-eight she has a girlfriend, is a lesbian, and is no longer a virgin. I love how candid she is about talking about her journey in coming out to her friends and family and how at first she didn’t feel “gay enough” because she hadn’t ever dated a woman. I related to her story for a number of reasons, but I’m not as candid as she is. I don’t think I would ever write, let alone publish not just one but two books detailing my love life and sexuality. I admire Heaney greatly because of it. She talks about how she continued to get emails after her first book was released from young women who related to her story and I know she will get emails for Would You Rather for the same thing.

I thought the content of the book was great, I wasn’t too fond of the format. The book is described as a series of essays and sometimes the book flowed nicely and sometimes it didn’t. I would’ve liked if the book flowed all the way through and didn’t feel as if there were unrelated essays mixed in. That being said, I loved the essay about Heaney downloading and watching The L Word for the first time while she was studying abroad. There was even an essay where she talked about her anxiety and how she had been resistant to medication before accepting she needed it. Again, I really appreciated her openness throughout the memoir about her journey and I would highly recommend it.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

(Chantel)

5/5 – When I read We Are Okay, I said that I didn’t know if another book would ever make me feel so connected to a story. I felt this same connection to The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and I can’t believe lightning in a bottle struck twice in one month.

This book made me happy, broke my heart, and left me speechless. In that order. Everything about this book and what happened felt like a true story. Taylor Jenkins Reid wrote characters that felt real. I loved Evelyn Hugo, I loved Celia St. James, I loved Harry Cameron. As Evelyn Hugo was telling the story of her life spanning decades, an epic, she was real. I could hear her voice and see her in my mind even though she didn’t exist. It felt like we were the ones sitting across from her listening to her tell her story, her truth. Not what was published in magazines and newspapers. She did what she had to gain wealth and fame, as she started from a Cuban girl from Hell’s Kitchen desperate to escape to Hollywood where she would ultimately become one of the biggest stars of her era. Not once did she regret the life she led. She was a woman who embraced her sexuality by using it to get what she wanted and openly enjoying it when it gave her pleasure. Once again, first-person perspective was done right, used effectively. It makes all of the bad examples stand out like a sore thumb.

It was an epic love story. This book is about a woman who fell in love with another woman. I’ve read multiple books about two women in love. This was different. It wasn’t two teenagers falling for each other, it was two women who weren’t allowed to be open about their love in the world they lived in and in the time they lived in. Evelyn Hugo is bisexual. It’s said multiple times on the page and she insists on the label because she has loved men and loved a woman. She doesn’t let anyone forget that she has done both.

The book is divided into parts. Each part represents a different husband but rarely is it about the husband. Some marriages were real, some were just for show. Evelyn is so open and honest about every single one. She does not skip over the ugly parts, nor does she push aside the wonderful parts. Her image has always been the woman who had seven husbands. Every time she divorced and remarried, it was headlining news. It’s how she was presented to everyone, but it was not who she was. Underneath those headlines are the complexity of her relationships and ultimately the actions she takes.

I think what I will take most from this book are the relationships. The word soulmate is thrown around multiple times in this book, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t believe in soulmates. Someone you would do anything for, do anything to protect them, to keep them in your life and someone who ultimately made you feel whole. Someone that time and distance couldn’t stop you from loving. It’s very powerful. The intimacy between people is powerful. In some ways, it’s beyond my comprehension and in other ways I understand. We would be incredibly lucky to find someone like that.

I knew early on in the book I was going to rate it five stars. I had a small doubt that something might happen which would ruin it for me, but it never came. At the end of the day, five stars is just a ranking. The book is going to stick with me and that means a lot more than how many stars I think it deserves. I didn’t let myself question or worry about what was going to happen next, I just read and let it all unfold before me.

It was incredibly difficult to put down this book every time I had to. This book is just incredible. I haven’t even talked about everything, and I don’t think I could if I wanted to. I don’t feel I can sum up everything I feel about this book. I will be thinking about this hours from now, days from now, weeks from now and maybe one day several years from now I will think about this book again. I want someone to have the same experience as I did, by going in knowing as little as possible. Here is all I can give you, Evelyn Hugo is a Cuban-American, bisexual goddess who is telling a reporter Monique about her life and career in Hollywood.

Once again, I have to ask to take this recommendation and my review with a grain of salt. I know what it’s like to read a hyped book and end up disappointed. Trust me, I know. I hope that as a reader you just dive right in, don’t worry about the hype or high expectations. Just get comfortable, pour yourself your favorite drink, and just read. Just listen to Evelyn Hugo tell you about her life.

Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire

beneath the sugar sky cover
This has to be one of my favorite covers of all time.

Goodreads

(Chantel)

Every Heart a Doorway – 4 Stars

Down Among the Sticks and Bones – 5 Stars

This is a sequel that takes place after the events of Every Heart a Doorway, I left a link to the Goodreads page, but if you haven’t read Every Heart a Doorway you should read it before reading Beneath the Sugar Sky.

Beneath the Sugar Sky is the first most anticipated read of 2018 that I’ve read. If you want to see the full list, click here.

3/5 – Last year, I was introduced to the Wayward Children series. I really liked Every Heart a Doorway, loved Down Among the Sticks and Bones, and eagerly awaited Beneath the Sugar Sky. The third book follows a character named Cora. I think she is a good character, she was fat yet she subverted what people thought of her as a fat person. I love that. And she came from a world where she was a mermaid which gave me serious The Seafarer’s Kiss vibes. However, this was our first time meeting Cora, a new main character, despite there being multiple characters we had already met from Every Heart a Doorway in this book.  I didn’t have the same amount of time to connect with Cora and I think it affected my enjoyment of this book. Which was the same issue I had in Every Heart a Doorway.

One of the things that I didn’t think Every Heart a Doorway achieved was having a compelling main character in Nancy. Yes, she was asexual and I’m so happy for that rep, but I thought her presence as the main character left something lacking. The characters around her were so fully fleshed out and realized and yet there she was, so blah. The plot, despite being super dark, was so interesting and I loved it. I finished that book wanting to know about more worlds in future books and I wasn’t disappointed.

Down Among the Sticks and Bones was a prequel to Every Heart a Doorway, telling the story of Jack (short for Jacqueline) and Jill, identical twins. Not only did it introduce us to a dark world with vampires and mad scientists, but it had something to say about gender expectations and how damaging they can be. This book had a deeper message and I found it incredibly compelling. Jack and Jill were fascinating characters and the book just seemed very well put together.

Now, I’m not saying Beneath the Sugar Sky is bad or that I didn’t like it. I really liked it, you guys. We got more of Kade, which I will never, ever complain about. But I think he should’ve been the main character of this story. Instead, we got a brand new main character. The familiar characters should’ve been the main characters and I think that was my ultimate problem.

I wasn’t too keen on the plot, but it’s a fantasy story and there’s a whole lot of nonsense going on so it was fine. We actually see multiple worlds other than Earth in this book and I loved that. It just revolved around a character I had no investment in. The most compelling scene for me was between two characters from Every Heart a Doorway. It was the only time I felt something tug at me and it was so subtle. I hate to say it, but I was let down.

I have no idea if this is the last book in the series, but I really hope it isn’t. This series has endless possibilities and that’s what I’ve loved about it. Three different books, with completely different tones, and I just want more. I want to see more of Kade and Christopher and Jack and Jill, and hell even Nancy. This might not be possible given where some of these characters end up, but I just want it. I’ve grown attached to these characters (especially Kade if you haven’t noticed) and I love being able to spend a chunk of my day with them. At the end of the day, that’s why I keep reading and why I have an attachment to these books.

Also, there are a few illustrations in here that I fucking love. Seriously, I want them on my wall as art.