Stacking the Shelves #114: All the stuff that came while I was gone

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

I accumulated a lot of books at home while I was away! I couldn't believe how awesome it was to come home to these pretties! <3 My sister and I got bored and attempted a books in bed instagram picture that failed epicly if you want to see them all in one place:



Gifted from my Aunt (Thank you!)
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

Gifted from my Mom (Thank you!)
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 10th anniversary edition

Won from Bekka (Thank you!)
The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Choski

Gifted from Danielle (Thank you!)
Blood For Blood by Ryan Graudin
Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

For Review From Bloomsbury (thank you!)
Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

For Review from Macmillan (Thank you!) 
Nemesis by Anna Banks
The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia
Blood Red Snow White by Marcus Sedgwick
Rebel Genius by Michael Dante DiMartino
A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith
Finding Perfect by Elly Swartz

Gifted from Bekka (Thank you!)
signed A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

For Review from Simon and Schuster (Thank you!)
The Imposter Queen by Sarah Fine

Traded with Brianna (Thank you!)
Noggin by John Corey Whaley

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I recently added A LOT to my shelves because of how long I was abroad. Have you read any of these? What did you think? What did YOU add to your shelves? Comment below with your thoughts!

Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes | Blog Tour & Giveaway

I will read anything Paula writes, so I am so thankful to have been placed on this tour!

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Publication Date: May 17, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 382 (eARC)
Source: Edelweiss From Publisher
Maguire is bad luck.

No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when Maguire is around. Like that time the rollercoaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or that time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash—and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch.

It’s safest for Maguire to hide out in her room, where she can cause less damage and avoid meeting new people who she could hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star. Jordy is confident, talented, and lucky, and he’s convinced he can help Maguire break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for Jordy is to stay away. But it turns out staying away is harder than she thought.

From author Paula Stokes comes a funny and poignant novel about accepting the past, embracing the future, and learning to make your own luck.

~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

I am always excited to read anything that Paula writes. She's one of two authors, next to Sarah Fine, who I am proud to call "friend" and have been with since book one many years ago. But, I will admit, I was a bit apprehensive to dive into this one. I am all for tough subjects. I think they need to be written about, and I (as I am sure many readers in general) relate to them and find solace in books who handle such topics with respect. I suppose that I was apprehensive because I was not in the mood for a tougher book when I picked this one up, but Paula finds a way to take such tough subjects seriously and handles them with infinite respect while keeping her book lighthearted and fun.

Maguire is convinced she's bad luck. Let me tell you, I totally am bad luck too, so I loved the idea behind this. My luck isn't as terrible as hers...being the only survivor of countless accidents that resulted in the injury or death of others is really going to take a number on your mental health, after all. She's easy to relate to, and very easy to love. I especially found all of her good luck charms and eccentricities to be redeeming, and they helped characterize her so well. Maguire, actually, is the reason I wanted to read this book back when it was first called Bad Luck Charm because I thought her character sounded so fascinating. Stokes really hit this one out of the park.

Then there's Jordy, the tennis star who lives a controlled life and doesn't really know who he is. He can't reconcile the Jordy he is outside of tennis with the Jordy he is while playing tennis because his parents control every aspect of everything he does. He also goes on a journey of self-discovery, and seeing as I love such journeys, it was nice to witness complexities in characters other than Maguire. Let's not forget the fact that he is totally adorable and perfect for Maguire and I ship them so hard it's not even funny. I can't say anything more without gushing for paragraphs, so I am choosing to stop there.

I also want to say that I love that this book has to do with tennis! I love sports books and have been drawn to Miranda Kenneally's books naturally because of this. A lot of my childhood friends grew up playing tennis and my aunt is absolutely obsessed with it, so it is a sport I appreciate though I severely suck at it. It was cool to live in it for a little while! It brings something different to the story than the average football/soccer/baseball bad boys, you know?

If you like contemporaries that handle tougher subjects respectfully, you should read this book!

4 stars

~*~Links~*~

Disclaimer: I received no compensation of any kind in exchange for this honest review.


Giveaway

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A Disney World Induced Temporary Blog Hiatus


Hey, hi, hello! My name is Lili, I am 21 years old, and I have not been to Disney World for about 13 years. The first time I went when I was 8, it was a way to celebrate my parent's recovery from their accidents. We got to enjoy the atmosphere of Disney, but not many of the rides. 13 years later I plan on doing Disney World right! I've got this crazy awesome 9 day adventure from May 26-June 3 and I am so ready for it!

My longest friend, Cheryl, graduated college and recently moved to Florida to start working. Her celebration is a Disney trip which her parents were kind enough to invite me on, so for 9 days I'm going to indulge in everything Disney and kind of disappear from social media.

That's a lie, I won't be disappearing from social media entirely. I'll be doing some tweeting (@LiliReflects) at night probably, and of course Instagramming (lilifeinberg), and let's not forget snapchatting (lili.feinberg) this crazy fun adventure. Follow me if you want to live it with me! But I won't be focusing on social media the way I do now.

I'm really excited to embark on this adventure before I begin my five day work week this summer. While I am very excited to start at both Tor and Nickelodeon, I am extremely stressed with a few things going on at home and I am losing my valiant fight against the villainous jet lag. This will be a nice little break from reality to ease me back into everything, and also an amazing way to end my crazy travel adventure 2k16.

I have a few posts going up on the blog while I am exploring the Disney parks, but content will be a bit slow-coming until I return June 3rd because I want to immerse myself in the parks. I want to meet my favorite characters, and watch all the firework shows, and see all the animals, and eat in all the castles. This blog is going to take a temporary back seat so that I can do all of that since this is a trip I have been waiting for for, well, thirteen years.

Thanks for sticking with me! *disappears in a puff of smoke genie style*


Lili's Travel Diary #23: 20 Favorite Touristy Things To Do In London


I have spent the last 4.5 months living in London. Sure, I've done a lot of traveling, but I have spent 13.5 weeks out of those 18 weeks in London, so I have that I have a pretty decent grasp of the city. I haven't done everything, and there's so much more for me to do when I come back one day, but looking back on my time here, here's a list of my favorite 20 touristy things that I highly recommend doing if you come to London (in no particular order).

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1. Tour the Houses of Parliament- This was seriously one of the coolest tours I have taken in London. I went to do this because my friends asked me if I wanted to come. I had no idea it was even a thing before the invite, but I said sure, why not? I am so thankful I did this! The audio tour was roughly an hour and a half in length and being able to stand in the House of Lords and the House of Lords was awesome. Westminster Palace has so much history to it which was super fascinating to hear about, and the rooms were so ornate you walked into some and your mouth just dropped. I adored every second of it. Pro tip: if you do this, get the audio guide and not the guided tour. It is cheaper, and we kept passing the guided tour which was so large half the tour couldn't here what the guide was even saying.

2. Hyde Park- There is nothing to say but Hyde Park. Grab a book and read for a day while you picnic, go for a jog, rent a boat and peddle along the water, go for a bike ride, grab a bite along the Serpentine, hunt down the Peter Pan statue, people watch, beg people to let you pet their dogs, tan on the rare sunny days with everyone else, study, play football. Just go to Hyde Park, explore it, breathe it, love it. Bask in its beauty. I am going to miss it so much.

3. Warner Brother's Studio Tour- A tour that takes you through everything Harry Potter. It lasts roughly 3.5 hours at the very least depending on how much time you choose to spend there (we were there for nearly 5.5 hours). It's a quick train into the further zones out of central London, and it is so, so worth it even though it is a wee bit expensive. Need I say anything more?

4. Climb Saint Paul's Cathedral- The views are so gorgeous, and the climb isn't that killer. It is totally doable! I would recommend going early in the morning (and by that I mean around 10 because that is when the dome opens) to avoid a ridiculous amount of tourists. Also, if you had a relative that fought in line with the Brits in Vietnam or WWII they have a book with their names in it that they can ask to see! My friend, Lindsay, found a relative in there.

5. The Globe- There are so many things to do here! Firstly, I recommend taking a tour. Our tour guide was absolutely hilarious because most of the guides do have a background in theatre, and it made it all the more enjoyable. However, one of the coolest things I have done while in London was see an actual Shakespeare play performed at The Globe. A Midsummer Night's Dream was superb! I recommend getting the five pound groundling tickets (less than 10 American dollars). Sure, you have to stand, but it's so easy to forget you're standing when you're wrapped up in the performance, and it's a super cheap ticket for something so amazing.

6. The Tower of London- A bit on the expensive side, but definitely worth it. My friends and I spent a full six hours here because there is so much to do. We only left because they were getting hungry. Truth be told, I probably could have explored for another hour or two. It is a full day's activity and it is most definitely a day well spent. If you like history, you can't miss this opportunity.

7. Camden Market- SO MUCH YUMMY FOOD! SO CHEAP! They've got everything you'd want and more. There's also great tourist items, clothing shops, and clubs to satisfy anything you want. I prefer the food stalls--their homemade pasta station, Indian cuisine, and halloumi stands are among my favorite, but The Cereal Killer Cafe deserves a special shout out too! Just make sure you've got cash since most vendors do not have credit card machines.

8. Hampton Court Palace- My friends make fun of me because Henry VIII is one of my favorite historical figures. I mean, the dude sucks, but he is ridiculously fascinating because of that. Hampton Court Palace is in Zone 4 London, meaning you need a train that is part of the Oyster system to get there, but it's only a few pounds and it's so worth it. You can spend a solid day here exploring his family history, hearing about his wives, seeing his rooms, wandering the gardens, and getting lost in the maze. It's not built like traditional palaces either, which makes it all the more pleasing to the eye.

9. Tour Churchill's War Rooms- I feel like this is something that is seriously underrated because most people don't even know they still exist. As a history nerd, this was super fascinating to me and you can spend anywhere from an hour and a half to three hours down there depending on how much you choose to explore the museum portion of it. Churchill is such a respectable and important figure in world history--I remember learning about him in high school--so this was definitely really cool to me.

10. The British Museum- My favorite museum here in London! There is so much stuff here that you can't find anything else, such as the Rosetta Stone, but the museum is so big you can visit it multiple times and still probably not find your way through every exhibit. I am so blessed to have it located a short fifteen minute walk away from my residence hall.

11. Day Trip to Stonehenge and Bath- I love London, but I traveled outside of it a lot. Not just in Europe, but within England too. One of my favorite day trips will be discussed in a future travel diary, but it was a combination trip of Stonehenge and Bath. Stonehenge is a place that you can really only spend about an hour or 90 minutes at because it is rather straightforward, but it is a sight I am thankful I got to see. And Bath is Bath...gorgeous, home of Jane Austen, land of smelly Roman Baths. Just so worth it.

12. The West End- As a huge theatre geek, I have seen 12 shows while abroad, 10 of which were West End productions. There is something so charming about the West End and I totally think it is worth seeing a show here. In my experiences, most tickets are cheaper than theatre tickets in New York City. And while many shows are similar to those in New York City (though with a British twist, of course!), there are also many shows that are UK only. I would recommend spending an evening out on the town exploring your show options because the British sense of humor is quite fantastic. Plus original staging of Les Miserables. Could you ask for anything else?!

13. Changing of the Guards- This is just so fascinating to me because we don't have a monarchy in the states, thus we don't have something like this. Buckingham Palace is only tour-able in the summer because the Queen vacates the premises permanently for one of her other accommodations. Because of this, I didn't get a chance to tour it, but I got a chance to watch the guards change which is a nice way to spend a morning before grabbing some brunch. If you do want to tour one of the Queen's residences and the palace is closed when you visit like it has been for me, I would recommend taking a day trip up to Windsor and touring Windsor Castle instead.

14. Borough Market- Very different from Camden market because it has more foreign foods. I can now say I have had Ethipoian food thanks to this lovely market. It's also a great place to go food shopping for fresh cheese, produce, olive oil, meats (if you're into that), tea, fish, and more. One of my favorite falafel stands is here, too! Also remember to bring cash if you choose to visit this place.

15. Kensington Palace- William, Kate, and Harry live here, so there's that. But there's also the actual house. About two hours is perfect to work your way through this awesome fashion exhibit with some of Diana's dresses, the history of the palace, and the very famous love story of Victoria and Albert. It is located in Hyde Park, in Kensington Gardens, right across the way from The Round Pond, so it is a great place to wander and read as well. Most people visit Buckingham, so this one is slightly underrated, but I happen to love Kensington.

16. See a Show at the O2 Arena- I am not a ridiculously musical person. I haven't seen many concerts, but I made it a point to see a concert here because it is an awesome ex Olympic venue and I thought it would be an awesome experience and it totally was! Ellie Goulding was amazing, the venue was awesome, and it's something to cross off the bucket list.

17. Westminster Abbey- I did this more out of duty than anything else. I had an open morning and nothing to do, so I thought why not? Firstly, it is gorgeous inside and, I mean, I walked where so many royals have walked before. But my favorite part was the Poet's Corner! I had no idea this existed, and was pleasantly surprised when I stumbled into it. They have an entire area dedicated to the burials of writers. Everyone from Wordsworth, Lord Byron, Dickens, C.S. Lewis, and more can be found there as well as dedications to authors like Jane Austen. It was definitely a very interesting thing to see on a random morning!

18. ZSL London Zoo- The zoo is located in Regents Park, so it's so fun to have apark day and wander in there. Tickets are a bit expensive, so I'd commit to spending a day there, but to each their own. I went with my friend and it took us about six hours to make it through the entire zoo minus the bug exhibit (ewww!!!) and including lunch. We hit up The Reptile House first because it has the famous scene where Harry accidentally breaks the glass and lets Nagini out of the cage, and then we wandered our way through the rest of the zoo. We went on a rainy day because we got most of the zoo to ourselves. Sure, it was downpouring on our way there, but it was totally fine afterwards and made avoiding too many tourists super easy.

19. The British Library- So pretty! It's easy to obtain a library card if you're long-term staying in London, but if you're just there to visit it is totally worth a visit because they have some cool exhibitions. Unfortunately, photography is not allowed. They've got awesome exhibits on Shakespeare, but my favorite is the one where you can find the original Magna Carta and Jane Austen's writing desk. It is just a quick stop and worth checking out, especially on a rainy day.

20. The London Eye- Super touristy and super cliche, but it is worth doing once. Purchase a ticket in advance online so you can skip the line and it's all good, just cross your fingers and hope you have a nice day out. London is a beautiful city, and seeing it from so high gives it such a killer view.

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Have you ever been to London? Have you done any of these activities? Do you plan on attempting to do any of these one day? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Happy 4 Year Blogoversary To Lili's Reflections!

Walking around London today, it dawned on me that today is my blog's fourth birthday. HOW CRAZY IS THAT?! High school Lili who started this blog out of loneliness and boredom would have never thought this would happen. Sitting here in my dorm before I head out to celebrate my friend's birthday, I'm still in shock.

I can't afford to host a giveaway to commemorate this occasion, as I am still wasting my money in Europe and returning home in 4 days to not so great things and some pretty amazing things simultaneously. Instead, I just want to run through some numbers and smile.

  • Lili's Reflections is 4 years old.
  • It has 350,000 page views, and this is post number 1,008.
  • I have over 6,000 followers across all platforms. 
  • I have read 305 books since starting this blog. 
  • I have been acknowledged in the back of 2 books.
This blog has seen me through...
  • 1 high school graduation, with a college graduation coming in 7 months.
  • 3 years of college (6 semesters, yo!)
  • 5 completed internships with 2 more about to happen this summer
  • 3 different jobs
  • 18 weeks spent living on a different continent
  • 3 BEA attendances and 2 New York Comic Con attendances
  • 3 terrible roommates that I only survived with your thoughts and support
  • and COUNTLESS friendships
There are too many people to list that have touched me in certain ways. Everyone who I couldn't live without knows who they are, but I owe an extreme thank you to certain people for putting up with my basket-case self: Bekka, Paige, Danielle, Mary, Jessie, Montana, Alexa, and Dana especially. Thank you.

But, most importantly, I want to thank my readers. You have stuck with me through a lot, including weird periods in my life that were traumatic or way emotional. The next 7 months are going to be the most intense of my life with my early college graduation looming and the completion of my thesis hanging over my head, so the future of my blog is questionable. But I know you will stick by me, and for that I am forever grateful.

Thank you for letting my blog live to be four years old. Here's to future and infinite warm fuzzies!


Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley Blog Tour | Guest Post


I am so excited to be part of this blog tour today because I LOVED this book. It is so important! You can check out my review here. But, for now, let's learn a little more about the book...

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Publication Date: May 10, 2016
Publisher: Dial Books
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 256 (Hardcover)
Sixteen-year-old Solomon is agoraphobic. He hasn’t left the house in three years, which is fine by him.

Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to get into the second-best psychology program for college (she’s being realistic). But how can she prove she deserves a spot there?

Solomon is the answer.

Determined to “fix” Sol, Lisa thrusts herself into his life, introducing him to her charming boyfriend Clark and confiding her fears in him. Soon, all three teens are far closer than they thought they’d be, and when their facades fall down, their friendships threaten to collapse, as well.

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What do you think teens struggling with anxiety can take away from the book? What kind of advice would you give the characters if you could speak to them (rather than be their creator).
  
The reason I needed to write about mental illness was because of how frustrated I was that I couldn’t explain how I felt when I was having a particularly bad episode of my anxiety disorder and depression a couple of years ago. It seemed too impossible, for so long, to find the right words to describe the irrational thoughts that were constantly swirling through my head. Sometimes they were brought on by triggers and sometimes they were random with no warning or explanation. And I’ve learned that this is the nature of many people’s anxiety—it’s unpredictable and it’s very damn clever.

So, the first thing I hope teens, specifically ones with mental illness, can take away from this book is the small comfort in knowing that there is no one answer to whatever they are struggling with—we are individuals who are vastly more complicated than a diagnosis and all the stigmas that come attached to it. My best hope is that teens with mental illness who meet Solomon will see at least a little bit of themselves in him and in his struggle to both come to terms with his illness and to push himself to deal with it more seriously. Solomon, you see, has decided that the best and only treatment he needs for his anxiety is to stay in the comfort of his home in Upland, California, and never face the cruel world that he could never feel safe in again. It seems like complacency at first, and perhaps most of all to our other main character Lisa, but what Solomon’s story is supposed to suggest is that teenagers with mental illness have a right to explore whatever safe means necessary to keep themselves feeling sane. In the first chapter, the narrator says: “All he was doing was living instead of dying. Some people get cancer. Some people get crazy. Nobody tries to take the chemo away.” This is our narrator’s argument for Solomon’s situation—his own prescribed treatment of never leaving his home again. And the reason I didn’t have Solomon’s agoraphobia be the actual struggle he was most trying to deal with at the outset of the novel is because I thought it important to try and represent the nuances and complexities of mental illness as much as I could in one person. Oftentimes, one mental illness leads to another and, in Solomon’s case, his extreme anxiety pushes him into a state of agoraphobia, which is currently classified as its own mental illness. So I wanted to delve into the complicated nature of that very thing—that he believes he’s treating his anxiety with his agoraphobia. And I wanted to say, most importantly, that to survive, sometimes we have to do whatever works. When I had my last bad anxiety and depression episode, I hid a way.I spent most of my time with my boyfriend playing strategy games and binging on TV and books and just trying not to freak out and have panic attacks.And it didn’t hurt anybody.Some people didn’t understand—took me for antisocial or rude, maybe—but when I was brave enough to open up about my situation, and explain how it compelled me to tell Solomon’s story, I realized that I, too, was doing what I needed to do to survive that time in my life.

My advice to my characters is also what I’d like teenagers, and readers of any age, to take away from this story: That you don’t have to understand someone’s mental illness to be there for them, and you don’t have to cure them either.You just need to be there.And to understand that mental illness, as confusing as it is to outsiders, is equally confusing to those suffering from it, but that confusion is attached to fear, shame, embarrassment, and the frustration that we live in a society where being “crazy” is so easily stigmatized and, very often, still a source of amusement. But, we are trying to share a place—not just a society, but a place in history—and that requires us to keep evolving in the best ways we can. For me, this book is my way of adding some small piece to the conversation about mental illness and how important it is that we talk about it.All of us.The more everyone knows about it, the more people can survive it, no matter how it decides to attack them.

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This is such an important guest post, and I am honored to be the one to post it. Thank you!

Review: The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: February 23, 2016
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 340 (ARC)
Source: From Publisher For Review
She is the most powerful Jinni of all. He is a boy from the streets. Their love will shake the world...

When Aladdin discovers Zahra's jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn't seen in hundreds of years—a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra's very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes.

But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?

As time unravels and her enemies close in, Zahra finds herself suspended between danger and desire in this dazzling retelling of Aladdin from acclaimed author Jessica Khoury.

~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

I did not know what to expect going into this book. I've enjoyed Khoury's previous works, but I didn't love any of them, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that this is her best novel yet. Khoury takes the tale of Aladdin and twists it and turns it into something so awesome that I read all through my flights instead of taking the precious time to sleep. She had me hooked with the magic of her writing.

One of the coolest things about this book is that it is told from Zahra's perspective. We are getting the story from an all powerful jinni! How cool is that!? It gives Khoury the ability to explore unexplored territory because a human like Aladdin--whose perspective we typically get--cannot compare to this. She also takes advantage of this by telling the story to Zahra's friend, Habiba, who we slowly discover the identity of. It makes the story more personal, and makes such a strong figure even more real.
 
Khoury's writing experiences great growth in this novel as well. It's just beautiful. She threw herself into describing vivid worlds...deserts, palaces, jewels, what it feels to experience magic, and I was 100% enthralled. I could picture it all, I could feel it all, and it made me really focused on the story she had to tell.

This can also be attributed to the killer characterization though. This story is all about girl power, and I am totally behind that. We have Zahra who fights to the end, takes no crap from nobody, but is still supremely flawed and even scared because of the life she lives. We also have the Princess who is extremely strong and capable, but bound by her laws so she fights against them silently. And then we have her Watchmaidens who surround her, all also powerful and very skilled. Each of these girls are strong in their own right, and it is even better that they are friends. They bond. They have a sisterhood that cannot be broken. It is nice to see no petty squabbling among female characters and instead see them come together against an evil vizier.

The last thing I want to mention is the romance. This book is super romance heavy, even if I didn't think it would be. I am satisfied with that because I am all for romance when it advances the plot, and it totally does so in THE FORBIDDEN WISH. Khoury weaves a ridiculously tangled web with a forbidden romance and its heart, and as a reader you become so wrapped up in the story that you will hold your breath until the very last page. I never thought Aladdin could turn into a romance quite like this before, but I am oh so happy that Khoury explored this new territory.

Fun, inventive, and beautifully detailed, I think every retelling nut like myself needs to give this book a chance!

4 stars

~*~Links~*~

FTC Disclaimer: I received no compensation of any kind in exchange for my honest review.