Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee {ARC Review}

I was sent an e-ARC of Tash Hearts Tolstoy in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influences my opinion. 

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After a shout-out from one of the Internet’s superstar vloggers, Natasha “Tash” 

Zelenka finds herself and her obscure, amateur web series, Unhappy Families, thrust into the limelight: She’s gone viral.

Her show is a modern adaptation of Anna Karenina—written by Tash’s literary love Count Lev Nikolayevich “Leo” Tolstoy. Tash is a fan of the forty thousand new subscribers, their gushing tweets, and flashy Tumblr GIFs. Not so much the pressure to deliver the best web series ever.

And when Unhappy Families is nominated for a Golden Tuba award, Tash’s cyber-flirtation with Thom Causer, a fellow award nominee, suddenly has the potential to become something IRL—if she can figure out how to tell said crush that she’s romantic asexual.

Tash wants to enjoy her newfound fame, but will she lose her friends in her rise to the top? What would Tolstoy do?

How can I describe my absolute admiration for this book? Tash Hearts Tolstoy exceeded all expectations I had. I’m actually having a difficult time writing this review because I just don’t know how I’ll describe it. I apologize in advance if this review is a bit jumbled.

I have fallen madly in love with Tash Hearts Tolstoy. It is a fluffy, YA contemporary that needs to be added to your TBRs IMMEDIATELY.

One thing unique about this novel is Natasha–Tash–is asexual. I have personally never read a book that features a asexual protagonist. I wrote a thread about Tash Hearts Tolstoy and what it means to me if you’d like to read it.   

I really can’t express how much I enjoyed this book. Tash Hearts Tolstoy talks about many issues, not only Tash’s sexuality. It also discusses friendships, rising to fame, family, and relationships. While Tash’s asexuality is very present in this novel, it is not the focal point. The book also explains that you can be in relationships and have romantic feelings if you are ace which is a myth that gets tossed around quite frequently.

Tash Hearts Tolstoy is just so much fun. The book is set while Tash and her friends are working on a web series. All of the characters were unique and easy to remember which is a problem I have frequently.

Tash is definitely not a perfect character which is something I really liked. In books, the characters are often seen as perfect beings. That isn’t how real humans work, though. They make mistakes and sometimes let emotions get the best of them. Tash definitely felt real. She didn’t always do or say the right things, but Tash learned from her mistakes and had strong character development by the end.

The storyline was adorable. Honestly, it reminded me of a Wattpad story in all the best ways. It was addicting and somewhat realistic but a bit idealistic. The writing style was also simple but still having the addicting style like I said before. There were many parts that were so funny I literally laughed out loud. It was overall just a heart-warming, wonderful novel.

After reading this review, you can probably tell that I LOVED Tash Hearts Tolstoy. You need to buy it as soon as you can. Read it. Love it.

So, what do I rate Tash Hearts Tolstoy?

★★★★★/5 Stars

Have you read Tash Hearts Tolstoy? Is it on your TBR yet? 

-Liv

Violet Grenade by Victoria Scott {ARC Review}

I received this ARC from Entangled Teen via Netgalley in exchange for a fair review.

28226839DOMINO: A girl with blue hair and a demon in her mind.
CAIN: A stone giant on the brink of exploding.
MADAM KARINA: A woman who demands obedience.
WILSON: The one who will destroy them all.


When Madam Karina discovers Domino in an alleyway, she offers her a position inside her home for entertainers in secluded West Texas. Left with few alternatives and an agenda of her own, Domino accepts. It isn’t long before she is fighting her way up the ranks to gain the madam’s approval. But after suffering weeks of bullying and unearthing the madam’s secrets, Domino decides to leave. It’ll be harder than she thinks, though, because the madam doesn’t like to lose inventory. But then, Madam Karina doesn’t know about the person living inside Domino’s mind. Madam Karina doesn’t know about Wilson.

If you like the trope of unreliable narrators, then this book is for you! I’ve never read anything like Violet Grenade before. In my mind, there are strong Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children and The Darkest Minds vibes in this book.

This book is so incredibly dark. I can’t stress that enough: Violet Grenade is dark. Domino falls under the unreliable narrator trope which is something I haven’t read recently. If you are a fan of that, then you’ll for sure like this book. The story follows Domino who has a voice/person in her head named Wilson. At first, I was creeped out by Wilson. By the end, I loved Wilson so much! Even the voice in her head goes through character development by the end of it.

I’d also like to say that there’s a potential TW later in the book for sexual assault and attempted rape. It’s later in the book, but it could be triggering to someone who has had history with either of these.

I didn’t completely love Violet Grenade, but it did meet my expectations. I feel like I always have an issue or two with each of  her books. Her writing style is very quirky and addicting which is one of my favorite things about her books. This isn’t my favorite of Scott’s books, but I did enjoy it more than her previous book. If you enjoy twisted/dark books, you will enjoy Violet Grenade

So, what do I rate Violet Grenade?

★★★★/5 Stars

Have you read Violet Grenade? What did you think of it? 

-Liv

 

Love, and You by Gretchen Gomez {Book Review}

34335011one day i met a guy
who stole my heart,
we created a world
for ourselves.
and another day
he broke my heart
and shattered
my soul.

i took the tattered
pieces of this
broken soul and
became anew.

– here lies the hurting, the healing, and the learning

If you liked poetry books like Milk and Honey and The Princess Saves Herself in This OneTHIS BOOK IS FOR YOU. I used to really not enjoy poetry. I thought of it as a piece of work that I had to analyze during English class. I also thought of scenes in movies/shows when a group of people sit in a cafe and a hipster guy stands at a front and proclaims an exaggerated poem while everyone snaps. So needless to say, I used to snicker at the idea of poetry. And I know I’m not alone in feeling this way.

I have changed. I read Amanda Lovelace’s The Princess Saves Herself in This One and fell in love. Just between me and you, I think I enjoyed love, and you just as much. The poems are absolutely stunning. While reading it, I could really tell Gretchen poured her heart out in the book. It’s so honest, personal, emotional, and just raw. Even though I couldn’t relate to all the poems, I certainly connected with them and learned from them.

Everyone needs to read this. Whether you were broken in a relationship, you are in an unhealthy relationship, or you don’t want to touch relationships with a ten foot pole. You will not regret reading love, and you. Even if you are not generally a ‘poetry person’, try it out! It doesn’t hurt to try. I used to be in your shoes, and now I love poetry.

I’m so excited to see Gretchen’s work take off. This was just her debut, and I’m so excited to see what comes next. love, and you is for sure a new favorite of mine.

So, what do I rate love, and you?

★★★★★/5 Stars

Have you purchased love, and you yet? 

-Liv

You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner {ARC Review}

I received this ARC from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influences my opinion.

25701463When Julia finds a slur about her best friend scrawled across the back of the Kingston School for the Deaf, she covers it up with a beautiful (albeit illegal) graffiti mural.

Her supposed best friend snitches, the principal expels her, and her two mothers set Julia up with a one-way ticket to a “mainstream” school in the suburbs, where she’s treated like an outcast as the only deaf student. The last thing she has left is her art, and not even Banksy himself could convince her to give that up.

Out in the ’burbs, Julia paints anywhere she can, eager to claim some turf of her own. But Julia soon learns that she might not be the only vandal in town. Someone is adding to her tags, making them better, showing off—and showing Julia up in the process. She expected her art might get painted over by cops. But she never imagined getting dragged into a full-blown graffiti war.

In 2016, I became interested in a musical called Spring Awakening. It is a rock-musical based in 1800s Germany. A few months ago, I discovered Spring Awakening had a second run on Broadway. The second production was different because of this: a majority of the cast was deaf. The production was put on by the Deaf West Theatre in LA. As soon as I saw the Deaf West production of it, I became interested in sign language. I was fascinated that this language is entirely spoken by hand movements. I’m slowly trying to learn it now (I can say my name is Olivia and how are you woohoo).
I then began my research to find Young Adult books with a hearing impaired main character. I sent a request to Penguin Randomhouse and received an ARC.
I was really excited to finally read a book with deaf representation. With that being said, I think my expectations for You’re Welcome, Universe were a bit too high. The book was definitely good–don’t get me wrong. It just didn’t live up to the hype I felt. I really expected to be BLOWN AWAY, but I sadly didn’t feel that way.
Firstly, let’s talk about the diversity in You’re Welcome, Universe. We have an Indian-American teen, who is deaf, with two moms who are also deaf. Julia’s deafness was *what I believe to be* very accurate. In many other books/movies/TV shows, it depicts that there is no communication barrier between a deaf person and a hearing person. However, that is definitely not the case. Many deaf individuals can’t lipread very well, and most hearing individuals only know minimal sign language. It was very interesting reading a story like this in a deaf person’s POV.
Within the book, there are many pages with spray-paint artwork. I really admired this extra feature on the book, especially that it fit really well with the story. Julie is a graffiti artist which was really cool because I’ve never seen someone with that interest in a YA novel.
This book was not perfect. That’s quite an obvious statement because no book is truly perfect. In particular, I wasn’t super in love with the writing style. It felt very blatant; I just really wasn’t a fan. Also, the characters didn’t really grip me like I wish they would. The characters weren’t very unique. They were pretty ‘black and white stereotypical high school’ personalities.
With all that being said, I’m still really glad I read You’re Welcome, Universe. I really enjoyed the different areas of diversity within this novel.

So, what do I rate You’re Welcome, Universe?

★★★★/5 Stars

 

Have you purchased/read You’re Welcome, Universe yet?

-Liv

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli {ARC Review}

I received this book from Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influences my opinion.


5139zwihtyl-_sx329_bo1204203200_Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid. He’s a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.

Right?

I genuinely believe that Becky Albertalli is the queen of YA contemporary. I’m serious. Fun Fact: I have never read a Becky Albertalli book. After reading The Upside of Unrequited, I know I need to quickly change that. I was waiting for the release date to read this book, until I checked my email and found an email from HaperCollins with a link to download from Edelweiss. You can imagine my excitement as I downloaded it.

Let’s discuss one of the many qualities of this book: diversity. This book intertwines diversity so flawlessly within the book. There was representation for both LGBTQ+  and PoC. It is very evident that Becky used sensitivity readers throughout this book (she also includes them in her acknowledgements).

The protagonist, Molly, is one of my favorite characters of all time. She’s a fat, Jewish, Pinterest-Queen, seventeen year old teenager. It’s quite common for fat girls to be comic relief in movies, books, TV shows, etc. Yes, Molly was hilarious, but not because of her weight. In fact, there is even a scene where she is told that she is told that she’s “gorgeous for a big girl”. Molly’s narrative definitely tells the truth that big girls can love and be loved too. It’s pretty sad that, in 2017, this is a truth that needs to still be taught.

The writing style is also something I would like to note. Becky’s writing style is one of the best I’ve seen in the YA community. It grabs you from the beginning and will not let go until you’re done. Even once you’re done, you want more. All the characters were perfectly imperfect. They were all far from perfect which made it absolutely perfect.

I really wish everyone could read Upside of Unrequited. Even if you are not normally a fan of contemporary, I’m certain you will still enjoy it.  The overall story felt like a warm hug. I really can’t form my thoughts into words; I’m so in love with The Upside of Unrequited. This book is a definite must-read.

So, what do I rate The Upside of Unrequited?

★★★★★/5 Stars

Have you read The Upside of Unrequited yet? If not, is it on your TBR?

-Liv

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas {Book Review}

32075671Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, Khalil’s death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Starr’s best friend at school suggests he may have had it coming. When it becomes clear the police have little interest in investigating the incident, protesters take to the streets and Starr’s neighborhood becomes a war zone. What everyone wants to know is: What really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could destroy her community. It could also endanger her life.

Is it too early in the year to declare a book to be your favorite read of 2017? If it isn’t too early, then The Hate U Give is my favorite read of 2017. Saying this book is ‘important’ doesn’t give it justice. The Hate U Give is a masterpiece. Despite its release date only being ten days ago, I already know this book will change YA literature forever. Before I start into my main review, I would like to clarify something. This novel is about a black female protagonist, and I am a white female. I encourage you to check out reviews by bloggers of color to get their interpretation of this novel. I will link some reviews at the bottom of this post.

The Hate U Give is 444 pages. However, as the end approached, I didn’t want it to end. Also, I normally do not cry in books. In the past few years, there have been very few books that I cried in. With all that being said, I cried four different times in The Hate U Give. What disgusted me even more is this: this book is not completely fiction. It’s a bit obvious that this book was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. The events that unfold in the book are not uncommon. THUG sheds light on how the media and people in general treat unfair killings. The book is really an analysis of how these killings affect the black community. It describes the nightmares and the visions that Starr feels after she witnessed the murder of her unarmed, black best friend.

One of Thomas’s strongest suits is characterization. All the characters, no matter how influential they are to the plot, act as though they are important. They all have detailed pasts; they are all flawed and unique in their own way. Starr’s family is one of my favorite fictional families of all YA books. They’re messy; they fight, laugh, and cry. Most importantly, they are a family. They support and love each other no matter what. Of course, they definitely have their issues, but ultimately you know they love each other and that’s all that matters.

Everything about THUG was perfect. The characters, the writing, the dialogue, the descriptions, everything. The Hate U Give is a 2017 debut that you DO NOT want to miss. THUG is definitely a game changer in the YA genre. 

So, what do I rate The Hate U Give

★★★★★/5

Links to THUG Reviews by Black Reviwers:

https://booksmcghee.wordpress.com/2017/03/01/the-hate-u-give-by-angie-thomas-review/

https://afroboricuareads.wordpress.com/2016/12/05/afroboricua-reads-book-reviews-the-hate-u-give-by-angie-thomas/

http://dulivre.blogspot.com/2017/02/book-review-hate-u-give.html?m=1

*If there are any more THUG reviews by black reviewers please let me know so I can include them*

(I have a giveaway for THUG on Twitter! Ends April 7th).

Have you read The Hate U Give? Did you like it? Why do you think this book is so important?
-Liv

Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History by Sam Maggs {Book Review}

I received this book from Quirk Books in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influences my opinions.

28503941Goodreads Link

Ever heard of Allied spy Noor Inayat Khan, a Muslim woman whom the Nazis considered “highly dangerous”? Or German painter and entomologist Maria Sibylla Merian, who planned and embarked on the world’s first scientific expedition? How about Huang Daopo, the inventor who fled an abusive child marriage only to revolutionize textile production in China?

Think of a scientist in all of history. You may be thinking of Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, or even Sir Isaac Newton. What is one thing they all have in common? They are all men. No doubt, they did some incredible work. However, what I learned from Wonder Women is that there are countless women who have made groundbreaking discoveries in STEM, but they have been overlooked due to their gender.

I was surprised with how much I enjoyed Wonder Women. I went into this book with ‘meh’ expectations, but I was blown away with how much I loved this. The book covers everything from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) to even Espionage (spy stuff…it’s as cool as it sounds). I was a bit worried that Wonder Women might be like a school-required reading assignment. I am not a big fan of science and math; I *usually* struggle in both of those subjects in school. With that being said, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist or a math wizard to enjoy Wonder Women. 

Sam Maggs wrote Wonder Women for people who aren’t experts in STEM. Sure, there are terms and phrases that may go over your heard. It’s nothing too extreme that will make you not understand the overall story. The book covers women from all backgrounds, ethnicities, sexualities, etc. It also includes interviews and short essays from women who currently work in STEM careers. Wonder Women not only talks about women through history, but it also encourages girls to pursue careers in STEM. This book is perfect for anyone who is a feminist and wants to learn about different contributions women have made in history. Overall, I enjoyed Wonder Women and will be rereading it again in the future.

So, what do I rate Wonder Women?

★★★★/5

Are you a feminist? Are you interested in reading Wonder Women? Have you read it already?

-Liv

The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace {Book Review}

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Goodreads Link

“ah, life-
the thing
that happens
to us
while we’re off
somewhere else
blowing on
dandelions
& wishing
ourselves into
the pages of
our favorite
fairy tales.”

a poetry collection divided into four different parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen, & you. the princess, the damsel, & the queen piece together the life of the author in three stages, while you serves as a note to the reader & all of humankind. explores life & all of its love, loss, grief, healing, empowerment, & inspirations.

A month or two ago, in the book community, there was a an event that triggered a huge discussion about diversity. When that happened, I wanted to make myself read more diverse books. I heard about this book and instantly fell in love with it. Even if you don’t think poetry is for you, you will still love this book. It’s hard to review a book like this because of how personal it is. There were many poems in here that I could (sadly) relate to. Honestly, all I can say is you need to read this book. No matter who you are, you need to read this book. It’s been almost a month since I read this book, and I still can’t string together words to describe how much I love this poetry book.

So, what do I rate The Princess Saves Herself in This One

★★★★★/5

-Liv

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness {Book Review}

a_monster_callsGoodreads Link

The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth.

 

There is one factor about the book that I want to talk about before I get into the actual story. This book is not only written by Patrick Ness, but the concept of the book was originated by Siobhan Dowd. However, she died of cancer in 2007. Patrick was asked to complete the concept Siobhan had created and he did. This factor, I think, made me enjoy the book quite a lot more. It was interesting to me how this person’s original idea was taken on by another person because she was unable to.

I have honestly had A Monster Calls on my shelf for about half a year. I had no intention of reading it soon. However, my friends and I wanted to read a book as a group. I selected A Monster Calls because it’s been on my shelf for so long. (After the book is done traveling, I will do a more in-depth blog post about where the book traveled to). I actually went into this book with very high expectations. People have raved about Patrick Ness’s books which caused my expectations to be through the roof. However, Patrick Ness did not disappoint with this book.

A Monster Calls is an incredibly short book. The edition I read was only 237 pages. I read it in a few days (which is really good for post-reading-slump me). However, there is so much depth and character development within those few number of pages. It will grab you by your heart and won’t let go until you set the book down. The writing style was nothing extraordinary; I feel like the simplistic nature of the writing style added to the story, though. Honestly, I think A Monster Calls will go in as one of my favorite books ever.

So, what do I rate A Monster Calls? 

★★★★★/5

Have you read A Monster Calls? Did you like it? Are there any other Patrick Ness books I need to check out? 

-Liv

I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You (Gallagher Girls #1) by Ally Carter {Book Review}

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Goodreads Link

Cammie Morgan is a student at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women, a fairly typical all-girls school-that is, if every school taught advanced martial arts in PE and the latest in chemical warfare in science, and students received extra credit for breaking CIA codes in computer class. The Gallagher Academy might claim to be a school for geniuses but it’s really a school for spies. Even though Cammie is fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man in seven different ways, she has no idea what to do when she meets an ordinary boy who thinks she’s an ordinary girl. Sure, she can tap his phone, hack into his computer, or track him through town with the skill of a real “pavement artist”-but can she maneuver a relationship with someone who can never know the truth about her?

I actually went into I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have To Kill You with very low expectations. The cover seemed cheesy, and I read All Fall Down by Ally Carter and I didn’t really like it. With that being said, I loved the first Gallagher Girls novel.

Cammie, the main character, attends an all girl school for spies. If you didn’t know, boarding school is one of my favorite YA tropes. I love learning about characters without having that ‘well, where are their parents?’ feeling. All the characters in the book had really interesting backgrounds which made me love everyone even more. The school itself is really interesting. There are several passageways and hidden corridors that make the school really complex and interesting. The school, students, and teachers kind of remind me of Hogwarts.

While doing an undercover mission, Cammie meets a boy named Josh. Josh and Cammie’s relationship felt a bit ‘insta-lovey’, but the book was under 300 which made events feel a bit rushed. Although the events in I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You felt a bit rushed, I really enjoyed the book and have already started the next book.

So, what do I rate I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have To Kill You?

★★★★/5 Stars

Have you read I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have To Kill You? Who are your favorite characters?

Gracie’s Song by Michelle Schlicher {Book Review}

(I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my opinion).

*Trigger Warning for physical abuse and mental abuse*

Goodreads Link28856122

“Everything can be undone.” That’s what someone tells Gracie Brannen, but she’s doubtful. After graduation, she walked away from everyone she knew with barely a word. Ten years later, she’s back. Even as familiar places and faces bring back old pain, Gracie finds hope in rebuilding old ties and forging new ones. Maybe everything can’t be undone, but perhaps everything can be overcome.

I actually went into Gracie’s Song with pretty low expectations. I was very happy when it turned out to be an absolutely beautiful book. This novel follows the story of a girl name Gracie as she goes back to her home town. Her hometown is like many where once you go, you never leave. Gracie finally returns for a visit after her mother passes away. No one knows why she left: her sister, her best friend, even her childhood best friend/high school sweetheart doesn’t know.

Gracie’s Song is told primarily in flashbacks which is an element I really enjoyed. Gracie’s broken past is slowly revealed to the readers throughout the story. The novel was very heartbreaking yet heartwarming. The writing is quite simplistic yet beautiful. This book took me forever to read because I had it on my phone, but when I would read I would read for hours upon end because the story really engrosses you. This book isn’t a typical contemporary novel, and I really appreciated the originality. I really enjoyed Gracie’s Song, and I hope to read more of Michelle’s novels in the future.

So, what do I rate Gracie’s Song?

★★★★★/5 Stars

Are you guys interested in reading Gracie’s Song? 

-Liv

Book Review: Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell

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Goodreads Link

‘Everybody likes everything these days. The whole world is a nerd.’
‘Are you mad because other people like Star Wars? Are you mad because people like me like Star Wars?’
‘Maybe.’

If you broke Elena’s heart, Star Wars would spill out. So when she decides to queue outside her local cinema to see the new movie, she’s expecting a celebration with crowds of people who love Han, Luke and Leia just as much as she does. What she’s not expecting is to be last in a line of only three people; to have to pee into a collectible Star Wars soda cup behind a dumpster or to meet that unlikely someone who just might truly understand the way she feels.

I received this book from a giveaway I won, but Kindred Spirits is now available in e-book format. To be completely honest, I mainly wanted this book because I love Rainbow Rowell. Her books always leave you wanting more from the characters and the story. With that being said, this short story was no different. The characters and the story grasp you right away and makes you want more at the end. It’s about three people who are in line for the new Star Wars movie (The Force Awakens). Even though Kindred Spirits is about a Star Wars line, both Star Wars fans and non-Star Wars fans will love it.

So, what do I rate Kindred Spirits?

★★★★/5 Stars

Have you read Kindred Spirits? Do you want to?

-Liv