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Harry Potter and The Cursed Child by JK Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne

Harry Potter and The Cursed Child by JK Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne
Published 31 July 2016 By Little Brown UK

Goodreads

Summary: The Eighth Story. Nineteen Years Later.

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

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Wow.

Holy crap.

I had expected nothing, and so much all at once. I pre-ordered this somewhere early July, went straight to the bookstore in the morning of July 31st and on my train ride home, I began to read. I read as I walked home, I read through the parks. I just kept flipping pages.

Maybe this is what most of us needed. A closure, and a new beginning all at once. To be able to immerse ourselves into the magical world of Harry Potter and Hogwarts. Or at least, this is what I wanted.

The Cursed Child has everything and more. I flew through it, partly because its a script, but also because it was so interesting. I loved how the script stays true to the older characters and the interactions between our beloved trio is still, after all these years, as heartwarming and hilarious as ever. Its so interesting to be able to see how our trio has grown up and attempt a hand at raising their own children — the realities of being a parent; the ability to understand their children, or otherwise. But above all, they don’t forget what’s been taught to them in their younger years, from Dumbledore or their experiences for that matter.

The addition and our ability to now visualise the Potter-Granger children or Weasley-Granger children is amazing. I loved that we are now given new characters that are so different yet so familiar to us. I absolutely loved Albus Potter and his unexpected friendship with Scorpius Malfoy. Its also pretty interesting to see a Potter “deviate” from the Gryfindor loving, brave and unwithering Harry Potter prototype. It gives the Potter name a breath of fresh air.

Overall, I absolutely loved Harry Potter and The Cursed Child. I hope that the play will go wordwide at some point and that we get more books to continue on from The Cursed Child. Honestly, there are fans who are against this, fans who worry that The Cursed Child will ruin the initial story — but The Cursed Child isn’t the original story. It’s a continuation, with new (yet old) characters that are familiar and unfamiliar to us. I for one am rooting for there to be more books!

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Grace & Style By Grace Helbig

Grace & Style By Grace Helbig
Published 2 Feb 2016 by Touchstone

Summary: From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Grace’s Guide and the host of The Grace Helbig Show on E! comes a beautifully illustrated, tongue-in-cheek book about style that lampoons fashion and beauty guides while offering practical advice in Grace Helbig’s trademark sweet and irreverent voice.

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I’m disappointed. I really enjoyed Grace’s first book Grace’s Guide, but Grace & Style really fell short for me.

The first few chapters were great. They delved into why style is so important to Grace and how she overcame her eating disorder to become the healthy person she is today. I was hooked, interested to see how her style has evolved over the years and what she’s learnt about fashion. I wanted to know what she’s learnt as a person who didn’t learn fashion, or not a beauty guru — just your average girl who wears clothes.

Grace & Style was more on the humorous side of things. There weren’t any tips that I could remember after reading it, there wasn’t anything in particular that captivated me besides the first few chapters that delved into her personal story with fashion.

I wasn’t sure what I was expecting out of this out. But I certainly hadn’t expected it to be mundane, considering I loved her first book. Grace & Style will be a hit or miss for some; it is easy to read, but probably not necessary for my shelves.

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Carpe Librum Box Unboxing: Jul/Aug Box

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Disclaimer: Not sponsored. Paid for in full with my own money. 

My very first Carpe Librum box arrived today! (Squeezing in a quick unboxing post before I head out for the day).

I recently heard about Carpe Librum on instagram and when I found out the theme for July/Aug is Made In Singapore, I jumped right in. I’ve always been a fan of local books, and have always tried to advocate more people to read local. This July/Aug box is the best of both worlds! Carpe Librum is a book subscription service from Singapore. I’ve always wanted to get a book subscription box but most book boxes originate from the US, and they either don’t do international shipping, or its too expensive for me to subscribe to. In comes Carpe Librum, complete with door step delivery at only $35. Win!

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Inside the box.

I immediately noticed the NOTbook from Epigram Books, and am greatly pleased that the book selected for this box is also published by Epigram Books! Love at first sight. Did you notice that the box is filled with red and white strips? Love the little details that keeps with the theme.

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In full view.

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Let’s Give it Up for Gimme Lao! by Sebastian Sim

Finalist for the 2015 Epigram Books Fiction Prize

“I don’t aspire to be nice. I do what is necessary to get what I want.”

Born on the night of the nation’s independence, Gimme Lao is cheated of the honour of being Singapore’s firstborn son by a vindictive nurse. This forms the first of three things Gimme never knows about himself, the second being the circumstances surrounding his parents’ marriage, and the third being the profound (but often unintentional) impact he has on other people’s lives.

Talented, determined and focused, young Gimme is confident he can sail the seven seas, but he does not anticipate his vessel would have to carry his mother’s ambition, his wife’s guilt and his son’s secret. Tracing social, economic and political issues over the past 50 years, this humorous novel uses Gimme as a hapless centre to expose all of Singapore’s ambitions, dirty linen and secret moments of tender humanity.

Of course, the main beauty of a book box is the book itself. The selected book for the month is Let’s Give it Up for Gimme Lao! by Sebastian Sim. Have seen this floating around, and was even recommended to me on goodreads but have yet to pick it up and try. Several good reviews on goodreads — sounds pretty interesting from the back blurb. It’s a big hunk of a book, which scares me a little bit (on a bit of a reading slump 😦 ), but I’m hoping it’ll be easy to fly through.

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‘I am not Kiasu, I am Singaporean’ NOTbook from Epigram Books & What the Singlish Stickers from Zinkie Aw.

Definitely a big fan of the NOTbooks from Epigram Books, so I’m delighted to have received one in the box. My fiancé always tells me I’m a bit kiasu (which is Singlish — Singaporean English, for being afraid to lose out — google it!) and kanchiong spider (Singlish for someone who is always anxious and on their toes) so I must always do things quickly otherwise I will feel like I will lose out to everyone else. Which is true. I am both of those things. This NOTbook is so apt for someone like me. In fact, the whole line of NOTbooks is very me.

Also these lovely stickers, filled with the Singlish slangs that are often heard in Singapore. Have never heard of these stickers before, but you’ll never know when you keen to Singapore-ify your things. (Making words up now, I see.)

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IKAT handwoven bookmark from Gypsied and “Complain King” set of pencils from Souvenirs from Singapore.

I follow Gypsied on Instagram and am a fan of their goodies, though I’ve never purchased anything from them (my version of window shopping). Always happy to have a new bookmark in the family. Have been using more fabric bookmarks as of late, after I rediscovered the fabric bookmark I got when I was 7 from my cousin a while back. Am always on the hunt for more.

And I’m in love with these set of pencils from Souvenirs from Singapore. The text on these pencils are so ridiculously funny, so very Singaporean, and so very me. I’m going to sharpen them and place them in my pencil box at work. What is better than teaching a bunch of kids? Using a pencil with hilarious text on it!

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Lastly, the box comes with an Epigram Books catalogue, which is always appreciated as well as coupons for BooksActually and Epigram Books.

Definitely impressed with the items in my Carpe Librum box and will definitely consider getting the next one that they put out. Their boxes come in limited quantities, so you can follow them on instagram (@carpelibrum.sg) to check out when their next subscription box will be out and get your hands on one if you’re interested.

Many thanks to the people behind Carpe Librum for a wonderful first experience!

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Grace’s Guide: The Art of Pretending to Be a Grown Up By Grace Helbig

Grace’s Guide: The Art of Pretending to Be a Grown Up
Published 21 Oct 2014 By Touchstone

Goodreads

Summary“One of the sharpest, funniest voices on YouTube” (Forbes), comedian Grace Helbig offers an irreverent and illustrated guide to life for anyone faced with the challenge of growing up.

Face it—being a young adult in the digital era is one of the hardest things to be. Well, maybe there are harder things in life…but being an adult is difficult! So Grace Helbig has written a guide that’s perfect for anyone who is faced with the daunting task of becoming an adult.

Infused with her trademark saucy, sweet, and funny voice, Grace’s Guide is a tongue-in-cheek handbook for millennials, encompassing everything a young or new (or regular or old) adult needs to know, from surviving a breakup to recovering from a hangover. Beautifully illustrated and full-color, Grace’s Guide features interactive elements and exclusive stories from Grace’s own misadventures—like losing her virginity solely because her date took her to a Macaroni Grill—and many other hilarious lessons she learned the hard way.

Amusing and unexpectedly educational, this refreshing and colorful guide proves that becoming an adult doesn’t necessarily mean you have to grow up.

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Grace’s Guide is surprisingly refreshing and tongue-in-cheek funny with witty, yet useful tips to survive the world.

I have to address that I absolutely love Grace Helbig — but with most self-help books, I go in with minimal expectations that I would actually learn anything. Grace’s Guide took me by surprise! The stories that Grace shared in the book really resonated with me and a lot of it was really relatable. With YouTubers, it is easy to forget that they are just like us — they have problems like everyone else and they’re just trying their best to live their lives. YouTube gives us an outlet to be ourselves and create content, but at the same time, we only get to see snippets of their lives. This book really opened up another door into Grace’s life, and personally, I feel that I can relate to her a lot better now after reading her book.

Grace understands. The anxiety problems, being an introvert — these are things that I could really relate to. Its always great to read about someone else’s struggle and how they overcome it — just like how Grace feels her reading about others’ stories give her encouragement and believe that there is a way out, I feel that way reading about her story.

There’s a lot of useful takeaway from Grace’s Guide. Its not just funny or witty, but there are real information in there that can be useful to so many people out there who feels like they’re struggling and need someone to just understand. (Again, I have to stress that the amount of takeaway from this book varies from reader to reader).

Overall, Grace’s Guide is a pretty good quick read. Definitely recommended for fans of Grace Helbig, and anyone who just wants to see what she has to say.

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Girls on Fire By Robin Wasserman

Girls on Fire By Robin Wasserman
Published 16 May 2016 By Harper

Goodreads

Summary: Girls on Fire tells the story of Hannah and Lacey and their obsessive teenage female friendship so passionately violent it bloodies the very sunset its protagonists insist on riding into, together, at any cost. Opening with a suicide whose aftermath brings good girl Hannah together with the town’s bad girl, Lacey, the two bring their combined wills to bear on the community in which they live; unconcerned by the mounting discomfort that their lust for chaos and rebellion causes the inhabitants of their parochial small town, they think they are invulnerable.

But Lacey has a secret, about life before her better half, and it’s a secret that will change everything…

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Trigger Warning: mental, physical and sexual abuse + religious / cult elements

This book scared me.

The Virgin Suicides is one of my favourite books, and when I saw it on the blurb, I knew I had to read it. After reading the book description on Buzzfeed, I was intrigued.

The book opens with a suicide of a boy in Hannah Dexter’s class. He was a popular, well beloved golden boy who decided to shoot himself in the woods. Nobody understood why, but people were convinced: he joined a cult, brainwashed, messed with things bigger than all of us. The 90s setting of this book was amazing; Robin Wasserman did a great job setting everything up. Having been born in the 90s, it was interesting to read about how witchcraft, cults and Kurt Cobain became a great part of many people’s lives or how it affected them and their town.

In comes new girl Lacey, who decided to befriend Hannah, or now lovingly known as Dex, after being publicly humiliated by Nikki Drummond, the most popular girl in school.

Does the plot sound familiar to you? Good girl gets bullied, befriends mysterious new girl and transforms into someone else? Yeah, I thought so. But believe me when I say that Robin Wasserman makes the story her own. Her writing will draw you in, suck you up and force you to turn the pages.

The reality is, Girls on Fire is hella scary and hella good. Wasserman makes you get inside their heads, make them tell you the story, everything that they’re thinking. The chapters alternate between Dex, telling her story and Lacey, telling Dex her story. There are several chapters of “US” that’s just stories from outsiders, namely, their parents and how they’re just trying their best, but it gives you a glimpse of why things are the way they are.

Lacey is psychotic. There is something about her character and the way she mentally gets to you is extremely terrifying but you need to keep reading to know what she’s done, what she’s going to do, her train of thoughts.

While Lacey orchestrates the show, Hannah’s character serves to move Lacey’s ideologies. She is the typical average follower, but its so scary how much of Lacey is within her and how eventually her own ideologies are planted by Lacey herself. And Nikki, oh. Nikki, she isn’t so simple either. I wish there were more of her, and towards the end I wanted to hear more about her story.

Girls on Fire stands on its own. The familiar plot or typical characters doesn’t matter here. Robin Wasserman took something familiar, and spun it to the beat of her own drum.

You need to read this. This book will haunt me for years to come.

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The Worrier’s Guide To Life By Gemma Correll

The Worrier’s Guide To Life By Gemma Correll
Published 26 May 2015 by Andrews McMeel Publishing

Goodreads

Summary: If you’re floundering in life, striking out in love, struggling to pay the rent, and worried about it all — you’re in luck! World Champion Worrier and Expert Insomniac Gemma Correll is here to assure you that it could be much, much worse.

In her hugely popular comic drawings, Gemma Correll dispenses dubious advice and unreliable information on life as she sees it, including The Dystopian Zodiac, Reward Stickers for Grown-Ups, Palm Reading for Millennials, and a Map of the Introvert’s Heart. For all you fellow agonizers, fretters, and nervous wrecks, this book is for you. Read it and weep…with laughter

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I was so excited to discover this book on goodreads that I immediately looked it up at my local library.

The Worrier’s Guide is essentially a collection of pictures that reflect a worrier and their view of the world.

I had expected the Worrier’s Guide to be a funny tongue-in-cheek way of describing what anxiety is. Sadly, I couldn’t find it too relatable. Very little pages resonated with me, and I am someone who has anxiety. Then again, I should say that different people go through different things and anxiety isn’t the same for everyone.

The book fell short of my expectations. It isn’t a book you need, but it’s a book that you can flip through quickly at the library or the bookstore. Interesting pictures, hilarious in parts, but nothing to really hold my attention.

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Love, Tanya By Tanya Burr

Love, Tanya By Tanya Burr
Published 29 Jan 2015 By Penguin Random House UK

Goodreads

Summary: Hi everyone and welcome to Love, Tanya! This book is really close to my heart, because it’s inspired by my journey to becoming confident and feeling happy about who I am. I wanted to write a book to share the things I’ve learnt with you – to reveal my top tips on fashion, beauty, love, friendship, YouTube… and loads more! Plus, there is room for you to list your own hopes and dreams alongside mine – so get creative and get involved! I’d love it if this book became a keepsake you can turn to whenever you need some guidance or a little pick me up. I hope you enjoy it!

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OK, I know what you’re thinking. Another book from another Youtuber, what could they possibly know?

But Tanya Burr knows her stuff.

One thing that works in Tanya’s favour is that the book is a non-fiction. It isn’t a fiction novel nor is it a memoir. Love, Tanya is a cross between a self help book and an autobiography. Tanya discusses her experiences, her background, shares tips and tricks about fashion and even recipes. Love, Tanya probably doesn’t fit into one genre because it just encompasses everything that Tanya loves.

I do enjoy watching Tanya’s videos. She comes across as this genuine, bubbly and incredibly positive ball of sunshine that I’d love for her to be the big sister I never had.

It seems that a lot of youtubers are getting a lot of flack for putting out their own book, but I think how good or bad a book is really boils down to the contents of its book and how the reader perceives it to be. Love, Tanya isn’t a work of fiction so you’ll just have to use your own judgement about how good it is. To me, Love, Tanya is one of the better self help books for beauty and fashion that I’ve read and I personally found it helpful.

I’d recommend it if you’re looking for a simple self-help book with easy tips to follow.

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The Rest of Us Just Live Here By Patrick Ness

The Rest of Us Just Live Here By Patrick Ness
Published 27 Aug 2015 By Walker Books

Goodreads

Summary: What if you aren’t the Chosen One?

The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.

Award-winning writer Patrick Ness’s bold and irreverent novel powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable.

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If you’re looking for a book about superheroes, then this book isn’t for you.

I’ve never read any of Patrick Ness’ previous work, so I went into this without expectations. But now I see why people say he’s brilliant. What I like about this book is that Patrick Ness took a typical story about Chosen Ones and made it into something simpler. Something so uncool that it became cool. Patrick Ness wrote a book about a group of ordinary friends who just want to graduate. How much simpler can you get?

The book begins with a group of friends discussing graduation, and noticing a group of Indie kids disappearing. The Indie kids are described as the Chosen Ones — constantly worrying and busy trying to save the world, where all Mikey and his friends want to do is graduate and talk about that new transfer kid.

What makes this book more interesting is that every chapter starts out with whatever is going on with the Indie Kids. In a way you’re getting a story within a story that correlates and helps complete the bigger picture.

Now, if the plot is too simple for you (yeah, I know, a bunch of kids and an apocalypse plot, sheesh) the characters are going to sell it to you. Seriously. The Rest of Us Just Live Here is character-driven. I appreciate that Patrick Ness took the time to create such a diverse group of friends. They’re so diverse that they become relatable. There’s bound to be someone in the group that you can relate to, or know someone just like them. The characters are what makes the book special to me. I honestly believe that if this book was real and in present moment, we are these group of friends.

Personally, I wanted to give up on this book. The first few chapters were confusing, and slightly boring that I just wanted to return the book and move on. But I’m glad I continued reading because I became completely invested in it.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here is maybe not everyone’s up of tea. Maybe it’s too simple, or too boring for most. Maybe it lacked the plot that people are looking for. But throw away all your expectations and strip it to its bare minimum — The Rest of Us Just Live Here is an average book about average people. And that’s all there is to it.

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Drama By Raina Telgemeier

Drama By Raina Telgemeier
Published 1 Sept 2012 By GRAPHIX

Goodreads

Summary: PLACES, EVERYONE!

Callie loves theater. And while she would totally try out for her middle school’s production of Moon Over Mississippi, she can’t really sing. Instead she’s the set designer for the drama department stage crew, and this year she’s determined to create a set worthy of Broadway on a middle-school budget. But how can she, when she doesn’t know much about carpentry, ticket sales are down, and the crew members are having trouble working together? Not to mention the onstage AND offstage drama that occurs once the actors are chosen. And when two cute brothers enter the picture, things get even crazier!

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Two years ago I read Raina Telgemeier’s Smile for the #AntiBullyingReads challenge and absolutely loved it. Last year, I decided to pick up her other book, Drama and fell in love again. (Note: I wrote this review when I read it last year. Posted it on Goodreads — forgot to post it here. Enjoy!)

Drama offers the same writing and illustrative style that will be familiar to those who have read Smile. Drama revolves around Callie, an enthusiastic set designer for her school’s productions and theatre lover. Similarly to Smile, Drama not only focuses on Callie’s journey as a set designer for Moon Over Mississippi, but also touches on other relatable issues like fitting in, falling in love and acceptance.

Drama is Raina Telgemeier’s original work (unlike Smile which is an autobiography of the author), and is also told in a graphic novel format, but Drama is just as good as Smile. Drama offers the same qualities that Smile had — it was relatable, it was funny but it was also heartwarming. Drama also delved a little bit LGBT, with some gay characters and I loved how Callie had interactions with them and the different storylines that she had with them.

Drama is a wonderful book that talks about important and relevant issues in an approachable manner and I think people of all ages could enjoy reading this book. I would have given this a full 5 stars, but I knocked off 1 star because sometimes I felt that it was a wee bit too focused on the relationship aspect rather than the theatre production, though I definitely appreciate the author’s efforts in trying to bring in the theatre element as much as possible.

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Diamonds Are Forever By Michelle Madow

Diamonds Are Forever By Michelle Madow
The Secret Diamond Sisters #3
Published 27 Oct 2015 By Harlequin Teen

Goodreads

Summary: It’s cold outside, but the drama is hot!

The Diamond sisters jet to the mountains for spring break, and Savannah’s flirt-mance with an international pop star heats up as her pursuit of stardom succeeds. But is this romance meant to be, or has the right guy been in front of her all along? Meanwhile, Courtney takes the next step with her secret boyfriend—and future stepbrother—and as their parents’ wedding approaches, the pressure’s on to reveal their relationship.

Peyton’s figuring out a plan for her future, but she still feels guilty about getting her former bodyguard fired and wonders if she can get over him in the arms of someone else. But the biggest bombshell will change everything once again, because Madison’s ready to tell the huge secret she’s uncovered. And with the boy who betrayed her but who could be the love of her life fighting for his own life, she might need the Diamond sisters more than ever.

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The end.

I am so sad to say goodbye to the Diamond girls. It had been such a good series. I admit, this book isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. It isn’t one of those action packed, super intelligent Young Adult books. The plot of this series (and this third instalment) is simple. Perhaps a little cliche, and this time, a little predictable but it is still good. I’m not going to knock it down because it isn’t what people would call an “intelligent” book.

Diamonds are Forever picks up a little after the ending of its second book, Diamonds in the Rough. After the ending of Diamonds in the Rough, I anticipated and expected a lot from Diamonds are Forever. Diamonds are Forever was predictable and its ending was a little rushed. Nevertheless, Diamonds are Forever came to a good conclusion. Everyone had their own happy endings, and I like that about this series. One of the main things that hooked me about this series from the start is the characters. Madow weaved in the different characters well. The sisters had their own colour and personalities. They are as typical as they come, but they had their own merits.

I wish that Diamonds are Forever would have elaborated more on Adrian’s back story. After the crazy revelations in the second book, it would have been good to know what really went down with Adrian back in the day. Still, the main focus of the story is about the Diamond sisters — so I won’t complain about that much.

I am so intrigued by the ending. I hadn’t expected Brianna to get her own chapter at the end, but she DID. And now I’m expecting a whole spin off based on Brianna’s story. Kind of like what they did with the Gossip Girl series, with Jenny Humphrey’s character. I don’t know if that is what Madow wants to do or has in mind, but I am all for it!

Now… can someone pick it up as a TV show already? This series is just as crazy addictive as Gossip Girl. I don’t see why it shouldn’t get its own TV series!

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