April Reading List

April Reading List

 

Books Read

Incaceron – Catherine Fisher

Sapphique – Catherine Fisher

The Way of Shadows – Brent Weeks

Shadow’s Edge – Brent Weeks

Beyond the Shadows – Brent Weeks

Perfect Shadow – Brent Weeks

Emily Windsnap and the Falls of Forgotten Island – Liz Kessler

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

Collaborative Storytelling

Collaborative Storytelling

Collaborative Storytelling or in another name Role Play (hereon written as RP). What is it?

When most people hear RP, their initial thought goes to D&D. Role a dice, you have your character, there is a plot, a story, and levels to attain. You act as your character, speaking (or writing) the lines they would speak. Saying (or writing) what they do and how they act.

This is not RP to me.

RP to me is story telling in the form of worlds created in forums or threads. You write with others, and develop your character by yourself, and plot with others. There is no rolling of a dice.  In fact, often there is little communication on plot in general, other than the general plot.

I started with this form of RP back when I had no business being on the internet and talking to strangers online. I started on a website called Crunchyroll. Now little do most people know, but Crunchyroll forums used to be filled with this. Groups for AVIs and GIFs, to talk about shows, and to do role playing. Not of characters from shows, but your own characters, in made up worlds. Most forums died very quickly, and I found myself on Mangafox Forums. It was here that my growth as a writer and storyteller blossomed.

On Mangafox  (hereon: MF) there were groups, and a group was dedicated to a plot. In the group there were threads, for locations, and character creation. I met many people on this site many of whom I am still friends with, and was involved in many stories. I learned fast how to change my dismal spelling and sentence structure. I grew.

The method of RP is this. One person writes a post with their character, and if you are involved in the scene, you reply. If not, you can continue on in another scene, on your own, in a different thread, you name it. At first I was a person who posted of what we call “one-liners.” Simple responses grew from that, due to stipulations of “5 sentences minimum per post” in some groups I joined. From there became paragraphs. From there became what is how I RP today. That has reflected in on my writing as well, although the method style varies greatly.

As MF forums died, and before it even, I became a part of OnexOne RPs. These are RPs where you play with only one other. They are less chaotic than group RPs. You also have control over almost everything. You get to world build, character build, bounce ideas off with your (typically singular) partner, and create. The only thing you don’t know, is how your partner will post, and what new plot points will jump up.

When MF died, I joined Role Play Nation (hereon: RPN). Currently I am a part of two OnexOnexOne RPs on RPN, with one of my MF friends. I also am working on an additional OnexOne with said friend that we will be posting elsewhere.

This is Collaborative Storytelling. Because for all intents and purposes, it is not really how others define RP. The way I “RP” is by building a world, characters, and a plot. We have plot points and a general guide of where we want to go with the story. We talk about details, and confirm on information before posts. Posts are always still a treat, because the true content is never known but there is a solid direction. There is a generalized end goal even if we don’t know how it will end for certain. We run ideas by each other, and talk for hours on plot points that may or may never happen. We are working to build a story together.

I have found many OnexOnes can be like this, in truth.

To say we are Role Players is to say writers are as well. We may be taking on a character, but we are still building the world. We still have “NPCs.” This is not “simplistic writing” and this is not D&D. We are writing stories. We are collaborating on stories. There may be different voices to the project, unlike books written by two or more authors, but it is one story. Novel writers take on the mask and history of their characters as well. They take the world of their story and their characters, but they have sole control. We do not.

Things that RP has taught me:

  • Spelling and spelling checks
  • Better base grammar (not always perfect but better)
  • Sentence structure
  • How to take criticism
  • How to take edits
  • How to take hate of my character
  • How to better build characters and worlds
  • How to communicate plot through writing
  • How to communicate history through writing
  • Continuity, historically and plot wise
  • Dialogue
  • Confidence in my writing

So yes I RP, but I like to think of it as Collaborative Storytelling. To me it is not much different than writing a book. I may not be published as a writer, but I have writing to show for myself.

But if Collaborative Storyteller is too pretentious for you, then call me an RPer. I’m cool with that, because it’s the truth as well. I just like to make the distinction.

MEM Review

MEM Review

 

Can I just say I love this cover? Its essentially translucent to show off the beautiful design on the hardback. I picked this up at Book Fest in St. Louis.

Customary warning: This is a reminder that these reviews are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target  audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this in mind. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.

Spoilers ahead, fair warning.

That being said…




MEM by Bethany C. Morrow

Synopsis From The Book

The Roaring Twenties are in full swing, and technological advancements have led to a rather unusual but fashionable practice: the elites of Montreal are having unpleasant memories extracted  from their minds, but the memories exist as mirror images of their sources, creatures known as “Mems.”

Elsie, otherwise called Dolores Extract No. 1, is the first Mem with the ability to create her own memories. She is granted special privileges  and allowed to live on her own in the city, away from the Vault where all the other Mems are kept — that is, until the day she is suddenly summoned back. What happens next is a gorgeously rendered, heartbreaking novel, announcing an exhilarating new voice in speculative literature.


Short Synopsis By Me

Elsie is a Mem, short for “memory” also known as an extraction of unwanted memory from a human Source. Typically Mems are brainless, lost only in the moment of and surrounding their extraction (the memory from which they come). Elsie is sentient, able to create her own memories outside of those as her identity as Dolores Extract No. 1. For almost two decades Elsie was granted the freedom to live on her own as a person, but that all changes when she is recalled to the Vault — the lab where all Mems are kept and created — due to the deterioration of her Source. Mem explores the concepts of identity, memory, and existence in a way that may leave you breathless.


Initial Thoughts Before Reading:

I saw this on a table of books and was not immediately drawn, but when the table supervisor started introducing the books on the table I picked it up having to look inside. I saw Roaring Twenties. I heard sci-fi. I saw “memories extracted.” I said yes. Out of all the books from my trip to St. Louis this is hands down the one I was the most excited for, which could perhaps have been a bad thing. I didn’t care. I let the hype fester within me.

Initial Thoughts After Reading:

Scream. That’s what I did after reading this book. I screamed. I screamed because the ending had my heart and shook it, making me feel so much. So I screamed to let it out. This book was short at 182 pages, but within those 182 pages I saw a world. I was faced with questions on existence that I never thought I’d have. I was faced with thoughts on memories that have sit within me.

What does it mean to exist? What would it be like to extract a memory that is unwanted? I thoroughly believe that it is the experiences we face that shape us to become who we are as humans. When I was younger I would often say “the experience is always worth it.”  In recent years I have begun to question whether this is true. Is the experience truly always worth it?  Even the horrible, the disastrous, the life shattering? I do not know it it is worth it, but I know the experience will always shape me.

So what happens when you don’t remember those experiences? What happens when you forget those changes? Do you remain stagnant? Do you try to fill in the gaps and perhaps lose yourself along the way? What becomes of you? What becomes of those memories, and are they worth it?

I’m not sure, but I am sure that this book will leave me thinking about it for a long time to come.

What I Liked:

Elsie and her existence. She is not an anomaly she exists within the frame of the world, but as an existence who thrives like all others. She is constantly growing and she is the light that her Source eliminated. Elsie is the light that all of us have within us that changes. Elsie is not a memory. She is an epiphany. She is the evolution of thought, memory, and knowledge. She is the cumulation of existence. She is just like you or I. Elsie is not a thing.

The philosophical questions in this novel are ones that leave me wanting to posed this book to far more people. They are questions I want to know other’s perspectives on. I want to know more, see more, ask more and understand how memory shapes others.

The other characters in the novel drew me in, with their perceptions of memories. A Mem was a possession, an “it,” a record. Mems were virtually abandoned. They serve as a self-serving existence and are a fascination. Some characters look at Elise as an existence within her own and fight to protect her, while others see her as a lie, an anomaly, as a product. This book focuses on Elsie’s survival, and her existence she has accepted. Where other characters fight for her, she fights for herself in a way that is entirely her own. She does not try to be her Source, and she reminds others that she is not. How the others take that is up to them, but through the book you can see how her existence shapes others.

Harvey and his decision. Harvey is a Banker (Scientist) and the son of a Banker, now dead, who once cared for  and scientifically observed Elsie. He, Harvey, is the one who Elsie falls for. He, too, loves her for who she is, but knows he can not love her for she is a memory. She will never age and he will. She will exist and he will die. They are star crossed and his decision in the end is what left me screaming. I do not want to spoil, so I will not.

It was a simple plot, a simple world. It was filled with a disjointed narrative (cut ins from the past or other times), that I am fond of. I know this throws people off, so take note. The story came from the premise. The existence of what is identity. MEM‘s story telling is vivid and I find that a first person narrative was perhaps the only way to accurately tell this story.

What I Would Have Liked or Changed:

I wish Dolores, the Source, and her story line had ended differently. I understand its necessity. I just wish she could have been helped.

Why You Should Read:

Philosophy. Beautiful characters and thought provoking stories are always a plus, but for me if I had to give you just one reason? It would be for the questions on existence and memories.

This book redefined to me, at least, a pride in my story. Bad things can happen to a person, and that’s what makes them human. It’s how we grown, change, and recover that defines us.

Time Taken To Read

1 hr and 20 min

Rating: 5/5

Can I give a 6/5?

Notable Quotes:

” ‘If people are imperfect enough to destroy their minds, perhaps they cannot perfect the procedure that allows them to do so.’

Harvey dismissed my logic. “That’s rather literal. It’s more a matter of scientific integrity. Regardless the invention in question, regardless what it does — if we’ve created it, we must strive to perfect it, if we can.’ ” – Elsie to Harvey

” ‘What’s it like to know there’s something you’ll never remember?’ ” – Ettie, a worker at the Vault

“This is the first universal truth I have ever come  by on my own and it multiples like fire. Because if this is possible — if sudden death is no respecter of person — so must every horrid thing be.” – The memory that created Elsie.

” ‘ I began as one epiphany and I never stopped having them; I’ve been having them all along, growing brighter every time while other Mems fade and expire. Real people have glimpses of me, realizations they then digest — the moments fade or time erodes them. But I am the realization separated from Dolores before I could be changed… No matter what her father hoped, extraction means I cannot be forgotten.’ ” – Elsie

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Mirage Review

Mirage Review

 

Time to get cracking on that Fairy Loot Box read, and it was fantastic.

Customary warning: This is a reminder that these reviews are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target  audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this in mind. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.

Spoilers ahead, be warned.

That being said…




Mirage by Somaiya Daud

Synopsis From The Book

The crown of Dihya had been stripped from me, my face changed, my body broken.

But I was not a slave and I was not a spare. I was my mother’s daughter, and I would survive and endure. I would find my way back home.

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, sixteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation, and of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day she, too, will have adventures and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes, it’s not what she expects. She is kidnapped and taken in secret to the royal palace. There, she discovers she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double to appear in public, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty — and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter and the royal court believes  a world of violence and fear, and she soon realizes that one wrong move could lead to her death…


Short Synopsis By Me

For Amani the day she becomes an adult is the day that changes her life. Living under the regime of the Vathek Empire — one that has taken so much from her people already — it is one of the few moments of true happiness to remain. Marked with the blessing of her family and history, she is ready to step forward into her new life but it comes to her in a way she least expects it.

Stripped from her family, her culture, and blessing, Amani is forced to become the body double of the cruel Vathek Princess Maram, with whom she is almost identical. Her role is be perfect so none may tell the difference. To fail would mean her death. To succeed may change the world.

It is here in the palace of fear that Amani is taught forms of love that she did not know, and how to care for those she once did not. It is here in new identity, stripped of all that once made her, her, that Amani learns that masks made hide the heart, but the marks of one’s blessings are never truly erased.


Initial Thoughts Before Reading:

Space? Check. Evil Empire? Check. Body doubles? Check. This was going to be a ride. I could tell. I already love sci-fi (although I suppose you wouldn’t know that with  my lack of sci-fi on my  recommended reading list). Something about space operas is fantastic. I’m not typically one for star-crossed lovers. I don’t tend to like the drama. However, it’s a sci-fi with an evil empire. Body Double stories are so interesting when told well. I figure keep an open mind and everything will turn out fine.

Initial Thoughts After Reading:

Space? Check. Evil Empire? Check. Body double? Check. This whole star crossed lovers that I don’t typically like: sign me up! Perhaps I’m biased, simply because this is a sci-fi novel, but I was in love. The cultures, the history, the religion. It was  simplistic to understand, with a premise that is no where near complicated to follow. Girl gets taken by the royals for something she can’t control, made to play a part she never wanted, and brought into the rebellion. Sound like a bunch of books? Probably.

I can not wait to read the sequels that will come out. I can not wait to see where the story goes. Chances are it will end  in a way  much like these novels tend to end, but I am excited.

What I Liked:

What Mirage does so clearly, is it builds the world. I’m have a great love for beautiful histories and cultures. Spoiler: this book had that. The world is established instantly. You are thrown in, jargon and all, with no room to do anything but hold on and keep going. The religion is solid, clear cut, and mythical. The cultures are vastly different and in their own ways charming and understandable. Then there is the history that is simple, but very important. Together we get a very well established world for what we do see.

Speaking of culture I want to talk about daans. What is a daan? It is the marking of a skin (think tattoo) that marks a child into adulthood. In Kushaila culture the designs are elaborate, beautiful, with symbolism, heritage, and blessings wrapped up into one marking upon the face: the daan. What strikes me as so important about a daan is the cultural significance. In Kushaila culture it is so packed full of meaning but for the Vath? For the Vath, our beautiful evil empire, it is savagery or barbaric. They are considered ugly amongst so many other things, and within the few remaining Kushaila nobles: outlawed. It is an erasure of their culture and from my perspective I understand both sides. Perhaps the Vath did it because of their lack of knowledge on the markings, but for an empire such as their’s, I’m more inclined to believe it is because they did know. What better way to take a person’s identity and history, than to literally strip it away. I’m a sucker for beautiful metaphors wrapped in culture  and myth.

Our main character Amani is stripped of her culture, identity, and existence in a multitude of ways when she is taken to be Maram’s body double. The cumulation of this stripping happens in the early chapters when her daan is taken from her.  Amani  changes. She hardens. She becomes unlike the village girl she once was, with sharp words and a mastery of cruelty. Only she can never be truly cruel, and that shows in the way she treats others and treats her own culture and identity. Her change to become Maram may change her, but it does not erase her, only strengthens her. Early in the book Amani reflects that she will never be like her mother who was hardened by two wars having to survive horrors Amani could never fathom. The trails Amani faces and will face will harden her to become someone like her mother: hardened.Too often in books like these I’m dragged along trying to believe that the main character is smart, or changed, or different with little to no real belief on my part. I find these transformations of MC beginning to MC end, as little more than a farce — at least as of late. I don’t feel as if the main character has changed despite how much she says she has and repeats she has to herself. Amani feels changed to me, changed in a way will retaining what made her Amani, and that is important for me. How she develops from here will either break or reinforce my beliefs, but I have hope.

Amani, however, was not my favorite character but before we get to Maram, I will speak of the other characters. I liked this cast. Idris was dreamy, Nadine was horrific, and Tala was a great support. Each character played their role of support, with Idris getting a lot of development — which I loved, by the way. I can not wait to see how each of them go on from here.

Maram. When I was introduced to this character I knew I was going to like her. I did. I love her. I still love her. I see her. I see her hardened heart that was starting to open before Amani sealed it shut and I say to her, “I still love you.” This is a girl hated on one side (Vath) for not being pure, and mourned on another (Kushaila) for not being her mother. This is a girl who was taught to be cruel because she believes everyone hates her. This is a girl forced out of both cultures because she doesn’t belong and she can’t embrace the other while trying to belong. (i.e. she can’t embrace her Kushaila to be Vath.) She is hard. She is cold. She is cruel. She is beautiful. She is a true ice princess, and she will be Queen. This is to say I hope she becomes Queen. I hope in some way Amani is able to redeem her trust, and get Maram to be the Queen the people deserve to have, the Queen she is destined (in my opinion) to be. I believe it is possible. I love her and I will go down loving her.

Other things

  • Amani’s love for Idris and vice versa was nicely developed, in my opinion, and was not the focus of Amani’s story.
  • Poetry is so big in this book. I love it.
  • The imagery and other metaphors
  • The jargon that you are thrown into. I can not reinforce that for me, the best built worlds are the ones that exist outside the bounds of the pages.
  • The book begins where it ends, which is always nice for me. I love it, when things  come full circle.

What I Would Have Liked or Changed:

I want more on the Vathek Empire. I want to know more of their history and culture  outside of what I know about the royal family. Amani doesn’t know much, other than their cruelty but they were not always cruel. It was alluded to that at one time they were peaceful upon their own planet. I want to know what God or Gods they worship. What histories and myths do they tell? Where does the cruelty come from? I want more on this empire so I can understand them better outside being the “evil empire.”

To say I was surprised with the King, King Mathis, having killed his family to succeed the throne, would be a lie. I am not angry with this plot development. I feel that it is placed to make him seem cruel and redeemable, but I don’t always like this plot. I want to know more of why, other than just a want for the throne. However, I would have been more angry by this if it was his only displayed form of cruelty. However, his immediate decision to kill hundreds of people when dissonance occurred later in the book was good enough for me. He is cruel. I suppose I’d just like to have seen more of him.

More Vathek politics. What is happening with the other colonies? What is happening with the other planets?

I don’t particularly love first person narratives, but I do understand when they are necessary. I do think, however, that this book could have been told in the third person.

Why You Should Read:

Culture, world building, and strong female leads. If what all I said above interests you, then that is fantastic. Mirage captivated me, and held me in. It made me excited from beginning to end. I would recommend this to my friends in a heart beat. Maram as a character is enough to recommend this to my friends. If you love Sci-fi and a bit of romance, this book is for you. Does it read as a Sci-fi novel? No. It reads more like a fantasy.

Only that matters naught, for fantasy and sci-fi are often one in the same.

Time Taken To Read

2 hours

Rating: 5/5

Notable Quotes:

” ‘I wonder which of us is more cursed,’ She said, soft enough that Nadine would not hear. ‘You for looking like me, or I for looking like my mother?’ ” – Maram

“Silence is the most damning criticism.” – Idris

“Change takes bravery…” – Naimah, a woman of Kushaila

“And so I lost the game before it ever began.” – Amani

“All may see the stars, but few will see their forebears. And to those whose eyes see golden fire We say  heed Us and listen.” – Words of Kushaila

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the sun and her flowers Review

the sun and her flowers Review

 

My first review, and on poetry not a YA novel. I’m really excited for this to be my first official review. Let’s jump in!

Customary warning: This is a reminder that these reviews are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target  audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this in mind. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.

That being said… I capitalize author names like the way they are in books.




the sun and her flowers by rupi kaur

Synopsis From The Book

(On the inner pages of the work, done to not ruin formatting)

the sun and her flowers is a

collection of poetry about

grief

self-abandonment

honoring one’s roots

love

and empowering oneself

it is split into five chapters

wilting, falling, rooting, rising, and blooming

– about the book


Short Synopsis By Me

See above.


Initial Thoughts Before Reading:

Excitement. I have been waiting to get my hands on this for forever. I loved milk and honey but do not own it. I still need to buy it and for me to buy this first is, in truth, not surprising. I love poetry, especially her poetry. There is something so tangible, but untouchable about poetry in general. It reminds me of the deepest parts of myself and gives me strength I can never truly put to words. The anticipation to read this collection was the kind of mouth watering need that you have when you crave your favorite food. I could taste it, but I still wanted it and my soul did too.

Initial Thoughts After Reading:

Yes. There isn’t much I can say other than “yes.” This was everything I thought it  would be and more. Tears. Tired soul, but also a new found passion. I feel that there are many things I could say about this, but poetry affects all differently. I hope others will read her work. Always.

What I Liked:

  • So many of the poems that I have picked specific ones if you aren’t into reading full books of poetry.
  • Art –> Like always
  • The continued themes
  • The female and self empowerment.

What I Would Have Liked Or Changed:

N/A

Why You Should Read:

Poetry, in my opinion, opens the soul to a new array of emotions and thoughts that typically literature or novels does not. There is a certain rawness to it that can stick with  a person and really get into them. I think you should read this book, because perhaps you can learn something. You can learn something about others, about yourself, about the world, about so many things. What I’ve learned is perhaps not what you will learn and vice versa.

Self care is always important when reading poetry, as poetry, by nature, can be visceral. There are many triggers within these pages that many may feel off put by, and may need time to work through.

Time Taken To Read

50 minutes

Rating: 5/5

While I did like milk and honey better, there were quite a few noteworthy and heart wrenching moments within this.

Notable Poems/Quotes:

Time pg 55

Untitled Poem pg 59

“It takes monsters to steal souls / and fighters to redeem them” – Home, pg 71

Growth is a Process pg 87

The Art of Growing pg 94-96

Self-love pg 105

Untitled Poem pg  114

Accent pg 139

Untitled Poem pg 179

Untitled Poem pg 202

Legacy pg 213

Human pg 225

A Simple Math pg 229

Timeless pg 234

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Reviews Information

Reviews Information

 

As I start up my reviews, I would like to note a few things for others to understand.

I have mentioned before that I read a lot. I also read quickly. I am able to read what most people would not be able to even fathom in a single day or night. This is to say my reading speeds may not seem normal to you, but I am reading. Slowing myself down actually makes me less inclined to read a book.

This is why I love reading plays and poetry, because they typically flow quickly.

This is also why if your YA book of 300 type set pages at a specific font for books takes me more than a few hours to read, chances are it hasn’t grabbed me. This does not happen often, if at all,  but it has.

Secondly, I read cover to cover. This means I like to read a book from start to finish and there are rare exceptions to this: text books, rereads, books that I love but are massive and taking time for me to read (exs: Lord of the Rings, The Night Angel Trilogy).

I am someone who likes to remain completely immersed in books, for good or for bad. Take that as you will. Here are some recent reading times for you in order to understand.

I read Brent Weeks’ The Night Angel Trilogy in 5 days, where I read the first book in two days and then last book in two days, but the middle book in one. These were not continuous reading hours, due to work more than because of the story. If I had the time to read them in one sitting, I would have.

The Endgame series by James Frey (3 books, plus  3 companions): 2 days, and I probably was reading other books in the same time and at the beach.

On Average:

1 to 2 hours for a book of poetry, depending on the poetry

1 to 4 hours for a play, depending on the play and it’s complexity.

1 to 4 hours for YA novels. Depends on the length, the complexity, and how much I like the characters.

I haven’t really read a lot of non-YA in a while so I  don’t have an average time for them. I know that I read The Night Angel Series in a week, but the last “adult” novel I read before that was Anne Rice’s Lives of the Mayfair Witches Trilogy (The Witching Hour, Lasher, Taltos) and I remember it taking me a week once I got through the beginning of The Witching Hour. (The beginning of the Witching Hour is rough.) I will try to keep an eye out for times, with this next set of novels.

 

My reviews will not be overly elaborate. I don’t feel that I can write beautiful and eloquent essays about every single book that I read. Instead I’ll write it with a sort of format.

  • Customary warning and all tags for the books
  • Name, Author (Obviously) and a picture
  • Short Synopsis from the book and Short Synopsis by me
  • Initial thoughts before reading
  • Initial thoughts after reading.
  • What I liked.
  • What I would have liked or changed
  • Why you should read.
  • Time Taken to read
  • Rating scale on a ?/5 rating
  • Notable Quotes:

I will be making a more eloquent version of this as a set page for reviews in the future. Thanks!

I think that will be it for now, and if formatting changes. I’ll let you all know. Thanks! Happy reading!