ReRead: The Lightning Thief – Rick Riordan

The Lightning Thief – Rick Riordan

28187Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can’t seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse—Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy’s mom finds out, she knows it’s time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he’ll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends—one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena—Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.

I don’t usually write reviews for books I’ve reread, but I haven’t finished a “new-to-me-book” this week so here we are!

I know I’ve read the entire Percy Jackson and the Olympians series a few years ago, but I haven’t read any of Rick Riordan’s other books yet (well, I read The Lost Hero, but I can’t remember anything that happens in it. Like, at all). And since it’s been a while since I last caught up with Percy & co, and only remembered the gist of the story, it was a nice refresher to start it all over again.

One of the strongest parts of the series, I think, is the way Greek mythology is so seamlessly integrated and, to a certain extent, modernized. I love the depictions of the different gods, though I did have to wait until book two (which I’m still reading) for my favourite god, Hermes, to show up. And I think the locations for Olympus/Hades are just perfect. Even though the first book is ten years old, it has an ageless feel to it.

If my life is going to mean anything, I have to live it myself.

The only thing I didn’t realize was how long it took for Percy to be claimed. The story starts off with a bang and there’s rarely a dull moment, but it takes 100 pages for SPOILER ALERT Poseidon to send a sign.

While Percy is the protagonist, Annabeth is an incredibly strong female character and the books wouldn’t be as good without her exasperated explanations whenever Percy doesn’t clue into something (he can be pretty dense sometimes). I started rereading Harry Potter just after finishing The Lightning Thief, so I couldn’t help drawing comparisons between Percy/Annabeth and Harry/Hermione and I have to say that, while I’m fully on board the Percy/Annabeth ship (and always have been), I never saw Hermione as a romantic interest for Harry, even though their relationships are pretty similar.

With all the series that Riordan is starting (the first Magnus Chase book recently came out, plus the first Apollo book is set to be released later this year), it would be easy to dismiss him as another author who just doesn’t know when to stop (*cough Cassandra Clare cough*). But his writing is so vibrant and fun, it’s easy to get sucked into his world and it will leave you wanting more.


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A Boy Called Christmas – Matt Haig

A Boy Called Christmas – Matt Haig

25882558You are about to read the true story of Father Christmas.
It is a story that proves that nothing is impossible.
If you are one of those people who believe that some things are impossible, you should put this book down right away. It is most certainly not for you.
Because this book is FULL of impossible things.

Are you still reading?


Then let us begin . . .

A Boy Called Christmas is a tale of adventure, snow, kidnapping, elves, more snow, and an eleven-year-old boy called Nikolas, who isn’t afraid to believe in magic.

If I was smart, I would have listened to my sister and read this a couple of days before Christmas, but I was busy (I guess) and didn’t get around to it until Christmas Day.

Nevertheless, it was a wonderful festive read!

A Boy Called Christmas tells the story of Father Christmas from his humble beginnings as a poor little boy Nikolas. His journey involves all the things you would expect from a Christmas legend: elves, reindeer, a red hat. But rather than making them your usual happy-go-lucky elves, reindeer, and red hats, Matt Haig puts a unique spin on them: the elves live in Elfhelm and don’t like humans; certain reindeer enjoy “weeing” on people when they fly; and the red hat belongs to Nikolas’ widowed father who makes some poor decisions.

There will be a lot of people in your life who will tell you to ‘grow up’ or to insist that you stop believing in magic.

Do NOT listen to these people.

There’s also a mean aunt straight of a Roald Dahl book, a pixie with a penchant for exploding heads that wouldn’t be out of place in a Neil Gaiman children’s books, and a series of unfortunate events not unlike those by Lemony Snicket. In short, this book is an amalgamation of some of the best children’s book authors in history, and if you’re a fan of any of the above-mentioned dudes, you need to pick this one up.

An impossibility is just a possibility you don’t understand.

A quick read, it would work well as a read-along leading up to Christmas for younger children, but most kids could zoom through it on their own in about a day. The only reason I’m docking .5 of a star (well, an interrobang) is because there were a couple of moments that dragged the story down. Highly recommended to get you in the festive spirit!


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Mini Review Round-Up: September – October 2015

I realized the other day that I read a bunch of books in the past few months that I didn’t write reviews on. I’m not sure why, to be honest, but instead of writing eight (!) extra posts, I’ve condensed them all into one post of mini reviews!

The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow – Katherine Woodfine

24463265A charming middle-grade mystery. I can see it appealing to people who’ve read/want to read The Adventures of Miss Petitfour (except a lot less cats). There were certain elements that seemed “older” than middle-grade, but I feel like people in the UK have different standards for children’s books. Also, LOVE the endpapers/spot illustrations by Julia Sarda.

Rating: 4 interrobangs

Knightly and Son – Rohan Gavin

17978149Mix Artemis Fowl (or really any Eoin Colfer boy protagonist) with a hint of Sherlock Holmes, a dash of Lemony Snicket’s All The Wrong Questions series, and a lot of Spy (the hilarious British show), and you get this. I think I literally laughed out loud a couple of times (or at least snorted). Another fun middle-grade mystery, not to be taken too seriously.

Rating: 4 interrobangs

The Ghosts of Ashbury High – Jaclyn Moriarty

0-545-06973-4I’ve been a big fan of Jaclyn Moriarty’s Ashbury/Brookfield books for many years, and I was so stoked when I realized there was a fourth book (they’re loosely connected so you don’t really need to read them in order). I liked what she was doing with it – ghosts! gothic fiction! exams! – but I found it took longer to get into this installment than the others.

Rating: 4 interrobangs

Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times – Emma Trevayne

18332010This cover kills me, it’s so pretty. It had a lot of elements that I really enjoyed – clocks and London and alternate universes, to name a few – and I would compare the tone to classic children’s books like Peter Pan or The Wizard of Oz. The only thing that stopped it from being perfect was the slow-moving plot: stuff happened, but it took a while for it to really pick up.

Rating: 4.5 interrobangs

Vivian Divine is Dead – Lauren Sabel

18651963I got an ARC of this last year when I was interning at HarperCollins Canada and then sort of forgot about it until last week. It started out great, then kind of sputtered along in the middle, and the end was good in a soap opera kind of way. Now that I think about it, it’s probably similar to a really dramatic Hispanic soap opera. Decent, but not stellar.

Rating: 3 interrobangs

Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean – Justin Somper

1721141This was a re-read. I know it sounds almost like a joke (vampires + pirates?), but it’s honestly such a good series, even if the second book is a little slow. Lorcan Furey is definitely one of my book boyfriends. And I know it gets better, especially when the badass lady vampirate shows up. Really, I was just glad to see it still held up after almost ten years!

Rating: 5 interrobangs

Why is This Night Different From All Other Nights? – Lemony Snicket

25229245I’ve been reading Lemony Snicket books for literally half my life, so you think by now I’d know that a series ending is just going to leave me confused. It was about as satisfying (that is, unsatisfying) as I expected, but still so Lemony Snicket (if you’ve read his books, you know exactly what I’m talking about). Loved the references to ASOUE characters!

Rating: 4 interrobangs

Whisky From Small Glasses and The Last Witness  – Denzil Meyrick

2482053222665422I liked book one more. It was well-paced and I could easily imagine the small Scottish town where it took place. It’s interesting because some of the characters, such as DS Scott had heavy Scottish accents which were depicted in the text (think Hagrid’s way of speaking x 1000). Book two was harder to get into for because the storyline was more complicated and DS Scott played a huge role, which made reading it a chore.

Rating (Whisky From Small Glasses): 4 interrobangs
Rating (The Last Witness): 3 interrobangs

Have you read any of the books on this list? Or do you have any recs for me now that I’ve read these? Let me know in the comments!

P.S. Don’t forget to enter this giveaway for an ebook of J.P. Grider’s Naked and Far From Home, courtesy of Xpresso Book Tours!

ARC Review: Vengeance Road – Erin Bowman

Vengeance Road – Erin Bowman

23719270When Kate Thompson’s father is killed by the notorious Rose Riders for a mysterious journal that reveals the secret location of a gold mine, the eighteen-year-old disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers and justice. What she finds are devious strangers, dust storms, and a pair of brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, she gets closer to the truth about herself and must decide if there’s room for love in a heart so full of hate.

In the spirit of True Grit, the cutthroat days of the Wild West come to life for a new generation.

Release Date: September 1st, 2015

Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

I don’t have much experience with Westerns – movies or books – so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was a quick, delightful read.

What I liked:

-this cover. My gosh, this cover. It’s gorgeous. It was done by Teagan White who also wrote and illustrated the adorable Adventures with Barefoot Critters!

-Kate is a badass heroine. When her father dies, she doesn’t sit around and wallow. She decides she wants revenge and nothing will stop her from going after the Rose Riders. Vengeance was the foremost thought in her mind and, unlike a lot of characters, she stayed vengeful for 99% of the book.

She ran around with her guns a-blazin’ and it was awesome. The entire time, I kept picturing Zee from American Outlaws, except more trigger-happy.

american outlaws

-classic girl-dresses-up-as-a-boy-and-falls-for-her-male-companion. I shipped Kate/Jesse so hard, it was ridiculous. Their banter constantly put a smile on my face, and I liked how the romance was a side plot, not the main focus.

-the writing was also really well done, and even if the plot was fairly simple, the writing moved the story along quickly. It took a minute to get used to their dialect, but it was added a bit of authenticity. There were a couple of things I guessed early on, but it was satisfying to have worked it out. It was gritty but entertaining.

What I didn’t like:

-I would have liked Lil to have a bigger role to play apart from the sidekick/guide, but I don’t think there would have been room for her character to grow in a mostly-accurate historical novel.

-sometimes Kate’s thoughts felt repetitive because she was so focused on getting revenge, but not enough to detract from her overall sassiness.

I really enjoyed Vengeance Road. I haven’t heard of a lot of Western YA novels, so this might be one of its kind, but it was enjoyable with a great female lead.


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4.5 interrobangs

ARC Review: The One Thing – Marci Lyn Curtis

The One Thing – Marci Lyn Curtis

18369372Maggie Sanders might be blind, but she won’t invite anyone to her pity party. Ever since losing her sight six months ago, Maggie’s rebellious streak has taken on a life of its own, culminating with an elaborate school prank. Maggie called it genius. The judge called it illegal.

Now Maggie has a probation officer. But she isn’t interested in rehabilitation, not when she’s still mourning the loss of her professional-soccer dreams, and furious at her so-called friends, who lost interest in her as soon as she could no longer lead the team to victory.

Then Maggie’s whole world is turned upside down. Somehow, incredibly, she can see again. But only one person: Ben, a precocious ten-year-old unlike anyone she’s ever met.Ben’s life isn’t easy, but he doesn’t see limits, only possibilities. After awhile, Maggie starts to realize that losing her sight doesn’t have to mean losing everything she dreamed of. Even if what she’s currently dreaming of is Mason Milton, the infuriatingly attractive lead singer of Maggie’s new favorite band, who just happens to be Ben’s brother.

But when she learns the real reason she can see Ben, Maggie must find the courage to face a once-unimaginable future… before she loses everything she has grown to love.

Release Date: September 8th, 2015

Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

This was actually one of the very first books I requested from NetGalley when I initially joined back in March. Clearly, I got distracted by all the other books I requested, because I just realized that this one would be archived in a couple of weeks, so I had to read it right away!

What I liked:

-Maggie. She was sarcastic and funny and sometimes rude. Oh, yeah, and blind. I’ve never read a book with a blind protagonist (except for this one short story in a Girls to the Rescue book when I was like 10 and I just remember being shocked because the girl had saved a baby from a fire EVEN THOUGH SHE WAS BLIND. Those books were fantastic), so it was fascinating to read about how she had to re-learn how to function on her own.

Maggie has a hard time dealing with her new blindness and, even though I’ve obviously never been in the same position (knock on wood), I felt like it was mostly realistic. She’s angry about her circumstances, and frustrated that she has to “start over”, and she pushes people away because of these roiling emotions over the course of the book. I’d say her reaction was pretty believable, if a little more sarcastic than most people.

-Ben. He was also funny. Charming and adorable, even though I thought he spoke in a more mature way than most ten year old boys. He kind of reminded me of Bailey in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants: the way he meets and charms Maggie despite herself, the way they teach each other lessons and all that.

I had a inkling of why Maggie could see him, and while I was slightly off (though I really should have worked it out earlier), it also gave the latter half of the book an emotional tinge as Maggie put the pieces together.

-I’m not going to spoil the ending, but it was an intense bus ride home as I read the last thirty pages. Bittersweet but satisfying.

-even though I wasn’t a huge Mason fan, I thought their relationship was ADORABLE. As a music-lover myself, I can only imagine what it’s like to stumble into someone’s house and realize they’re related to the dude who sings you to sleep every night (through your headphones, obviously).

-the writing was fun and sort of swept you along, so while I wouldn’t necessarily call it “fluffy”, it wasn’t a chore to get through.

What I didn’t like:

-I came around to him eventually, but beginning-of-the-book Mason was a bit of a tool. I understood why he acted a certain way around Maggie, but he was still pretty tool-y until they actually started talking. Props to Maggie for standing up to him (a couple of times).

-I liked Sophie’s side plot, but it almost took away from the main plot i.e. Maggie’s blindness. Although, it was interesting how Maggie/Sophie’s friendship evolved after Maggie lost her sight.

Overall, I quite enjoyed this one! Maggie was a fun, sarcastic protagonist, and I was way more emotionally invested in her story than I thought I would be!


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4.5 interrobangs

ARC Review: Alice Takes Back Wonderland – David D. Hammons

Alice Takes Back Wonderland – David D. Hammons

22590207After ten years of being told she can’t tell the difference between real life and a fairy tale, Alice finally stops believing in Wonderland. So when the White Rabbit shows up at her house, Alice thinks she’s going crazy.
Only when the White Rabbit kicks her down the rabbit hole does Alice realize that the magical land she visited as a child is real.

But all is not well in Wonderland.

The Ace of Spades has taken over Wonderland and is systematically dismantling all that makes it wonderful. Plain is replacing wondrous, logical is replacing magical, and reason is destroying madness. Alice decides she must help the Mad Hatter and all those fighting to keep Wonderland wonderful.

But how can she face such danger when she is just a girl?

Alice must journey across the stars to unite an army. She discovers that fairy tales are real in the magical world beyond the rabbit hole. But they are not the fairy tales she knows.
Fairy tales have dangers and adventures of their own, and Alice must overcome the trials of these old stories if she wants to unite the lands against Ace.
With the help of Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Snow White and heroes old and new, Alice may have the strength to take back Wonderland.

Release Date: September 28th, 2015

Thank you to Curiosity Quills for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

I love all things Alice-inspired, so obviously I jumped at the chance to read this ARC. It was so good!! Especially because there was a lapse between when I requested it and when I actually read it so I had time to forget that other fairy tale creatures showed up and made the whole thing AMAZING.

What I liked:

-the cover, obviously, is gorgeous.

-the other fairy tale characters and the differences between their real stories and the “echoes” we have in our world. Loved Peter Pan (I shipped them hard), loved the twist on Pinocchio, loved the whole thing with the princesses…I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but it was really well done and integrated seamlessly with the plot.

The seven dwarves were especially awesome. Two words: pinstripe suits.

-Alice herself. She ended up being funny and smart and tough and pretty much exactly how you’d want a grown up Alice to be. She reminded me a lot of Tim Burton’s Alice (actually, the whole concept reminded me of that movie, so it’s a good thing I really enjoy Tim Burton’s take), which led to me rewatching the movie this weekend (never a bad thing).

I especially liked how, when she was changing outfits because her dress was ruined, she turned up her nose at the other dresses that were offered to her, choosing instead pants and a shirt because she didn’t “need it to be pretty”. Plus her pants had pockets for her shotgun shells, so it was more convenient than a frilly dress.

-at first I, along with other characters, was perplexed as to why exactly Alice wanted to take back Wonderland. It was like she had a goal, but she herself couldn’t reason why this goal was so important to her. That should have been annoying, but it actually made sense in a confusing way. I think this quotation from the book sums it up:

Magic, it seemed, showed no sign of scientific reason. It was frustrating, yet made me feel joyful to know that something existed in this universe that was completely devoid of rational explanation”.

-this quote

If acting outside a set list of thing to do is what you call mad, then we’re all mad here.

Sidenote: I already love the original “we’re all mad here” line (enough to get it permanently inked on my skin), so of course I liked this more detailed version.

What I didn’t like:

-attacking the pirates’ ship in Neverland seemed to take a long time, plus I don’t know what a Gatling gun is, so I had a hard time imagining it.

-there were some emotional moments that felt like they were glossed over so that it didn’t slow the action down which was understandable, but they were the moments where I actually wanted Alice to stop and process what was happening. Chalk it up to her being mad, I suppose.

Overall, I think he did a fantastic job capturing Alice’s whimsical voice, even making me laugh a few times, and as a fan of mixed up fairy tales, I loved seeing other characters outside of their stories.

I wish I had read this a couple of weeks earlier so that I could have added it to my top ten list of fairy tale retellings.


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ARC Reviews – May 2015

This month, I’ve read four ARCs – one of which was for a blog tour – and just started a fifth. Here’s a round-up of what I read! (please click the titles for a full review)

  • Sing for Me – Gracie Madison: “I have complicated feelings about this book. It wasn’t bad per se, I just didn’t really enjoy it. I read the whole thing, though admittedly I started skimming at about 30%.” (2 interrobangs)
  • The Rearranged Life – Annika Sharma: “This book read like a cross between Bend it Like Beckham and My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and it was definitely interesting to read the descriptions and think about the differences between cultures…a cute summer read.” (3.5 interrobangs)
  • The Blooming Goddess Trilogy – Tellulah Darling: “I really enjoyed this series: it was fluffy at times but still had a strong plot. The writing was funny and compelling, and if you like contemporary takes on Greek mythology, you’ll love Sophie’s world.” (4.5 interrobangs)
  • Beyond Clueless – Linas Alsenas: “I’m sure there’s an audience for it, but this is one of those rare cases where I feel too old to read this and I think it would be better received by readers aged 12-14.” (2 interobangs)

I just started reading Devil’s Daughter and it’s interesting so far – hopefully I’ll have a review for it up next week!

What ARCs have you read this month? Anything I should look forward to?

ARC Review: The Blooming Goddess Trilogy – Tellulah Darling

The Blooming Goddess Trilogy – Tellulah Darling

25389347Perfect for fans of Meg Cabot, Rachel Hawkins, and everyone who loves their kickass girls sassy and their infuriating gods swoony.

The Persephone myth gets a YA romantic comedy makeover when Sophie Bloom, slacker girl extraordinaire, receives a midnight kiss from a bad boy and discovers that she’s actually Persephone, Goddess of Spring. Somehow she’s got to save humanity in the war between Hades and Zeus, survive God-ordered assassination attempts, deal with mean girls and teen drama, and stop being kissed by the aforementioned bad boy, a.k.a. Kai, Prince of the Underworld.

Compared to Kai and Sophie, Romeo & Juliet had it easy.

The Complete Blooming Goddess Trilogy contains: My Ex From Hell (#1),My Date From Hell (#2), A Date of Godlike Proporitions (short story #2.5), and My Life From Hell (#3) and is available exclusively for Kindle.

Release Date: April 30th, 2015

Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

I’ve always been fascinated by the Persephone myth, so I was pretty stoked when my request was approved and I’m happy to report that I really enjoyed this trilogy!

What I liked:

-the characters. The core four – Sophie, Kai, Theo, and Hannah – were all amazing. They were fairly well rounded and had amazing chemistry. I also loved the “updated” versions of the gods, especially Festos (Hephaestus) and Pierce (Eros). My favourite god is Hermes, so I was excited when he played a substantial role in the second book. I do wish Poseidon had shown up, but I liked that she introduced some of the lesser known gods, especially in the Underworld.

-the Sophie/Kai relationship. I ended up falling for them harder than I thought I would. Sure, Kai’s your standard brooding YA lead, but a) he has his light-hearted moments and b) he’s the prince of Hades, so what do you expect?

-the other relationships that I won’t spoil for you, but they were equally adorable.

-the humour and sarcasm. Sophie has a great narrative voice and she – and her friends – often made me giggle out loud. They were snappy and sassy and sounded like real teens and didn’t use weird “teen-speak” (i.e. the way some adult authors think teens speak which makes everyone sound like a vapid Valley girl).

-It takes place in Canada! Or, at least, the school is on Vancouver Island. Which I wasn’t expecting, so I thought that was pretty fun.

-a couple of paragraphs in, there was a Tim Burton reference. And then later someone is reading a Neil Gaiman book. WAY TO GET STRAIGHT TO MY HEART, TELLULAH DARLING.

-the mini story in between books 2 and 3. I don’t want to spoil it, but oh my glob, it’s so cute. And featured my favourite couple!!

-there was a moment near the end of the third book that had me so stressed out because I was desperately worried for a particular character, but, thankfully, it all worked out (otherwise I would have cried).

What I didn’t like:

-there were some moments that lagged (as is natural), and I skimmed part of the second book. I think the problem was reading the whole series in one shot (they were all in one file), so it felt like it was longer than if I had three physical books to start and finish (or even three separate files).

-I understood why Sophie and Hannah argued in the third book, but it was a very “dramatic teen girl” subplot that felt a little jarring compared to the “fate of the world” plot. It was handled realistically though.

I really enjoyed this series: it was fluffy at times but still had a strong plot. The writing was funny and compelling, and if you like contemporary takes on Greek mythology, you’ll love Sophie’s world.


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I Am Half-Sick of Shadows – Alan Bradley

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows – Alan Bradley

13531853Colonel de Luce, in desperate need of funds, rents his beloved estate of Buckshaw to a film company. They will be shooting a movie over the Christmas holidays, filming scenes in the decaying manse with a reclusive star. She is widely despised, so it is to no one’s surprise when she turns up murdered, strangled by a length of film from her own movies! With a blizzard raging outside and Buckshaw locked in, the house is full of suspects. But Flavia de Luce is more than ready to put aside her investigations into the true identity of Father Christmas to solve this yuletide country-house murder.

I think this might be my favourite Flavia book so far.

Christmas at Buckshaw is just as delightful as you’d imagine it to be! I like picturing a grand old manor completely decked out…though of course, this time the de Luces can’t deck the halls thanks to the intrusion of a film crew.

I like how this book started to scratch below the surface of Flavia’s relationships with her sister. There’s a hint that Ophelia, at the very least, has some sort of affection towards her baby sister. And I felt like we got to know Daphne a bit better in this one, which is great – as the middle sister, she was sort of getting lost, but she’s starting to emerge a little bit more and I think it’s great.

And we’re getting a little more information about Dogger – who, apart from Flavia, is my favourite character – so of course I’m fascinated and hoping to learn even more.

I also love how Flavia’s relationship with Inspector Hewitt is growing – how he’s gone from considering her a pest to having a bit more respect for her.

I also like the multiple plot lines – the salacious secrets of the film crew and subsequent murder, of course, but also the bigger question of whether or not the de Luces can continue to live at Buckshaw.

This is a short review and probably repeats a lot of what I’ve said about the first three books, but it was the shortest book of the series, so there’s not really much to talk about!

4.5 interrobangs

4.5 interrobangs