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ARC Review: Love à la Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm

Summary

Take two American teen chefs, add one heaping cup of Paris, toss in a pinch of romance, and stir. . . . Rosie Radeke firmly believes that happiness can be found at the bottom of a mixing bowl. But she never expected that she, a random nobody from East Liberty, Ohio, would be accepted to celebrity chef Denis Laurent’s school in Paris, the most prestigious cooking program for teens in the entire world. Life in Paris, however, isn’t all cream puffs and crepes. Faced with a challenging curriculum and a nightmare professor, Rosie begins to doubt her dishes. Henry Yi grew up in his dad’s restaurant in Chicago, and his lifelong love affair with food landed him a coveted spot in Chef Laurent’s school. He quickly connects with Rosie, but academic pressure from home and his jealousy over Rosie’s growing friendship with gorgeous bad-boy baker Bodie Tal makes Henry lash out and push his dream girl away. Desperate to prove themselves, Rosie and Henry cook like never before while sparks fly between them. But as they reach their breaking points, they wonder whether they have what it takes to become real chefs. Perfect for lovers of Chopped Teen Tournament and Kids Baking Championship, as well as anyone who dreams of a romantic trip to France, Love à la Mode follows Rosie and Henry as they fall in love with food, with Paris, and ultimately, with each other.

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Review

Hey, everyone! Today, I’ll be talking about Love à la Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm. Now, I remember first hearing about this book and being really excited. Not only was it about a boarding school set in France, this boarding school is actually a prestigious cooking school as well! I was definitely getting Anna and the French Kiss vibes with some competitive drama to boot! And while it was an okay read, I wouldn’t rank it with my favourite contemporary novels.

Firstly, my main concern was with the main characters. Rosie and Henry were pretty nice together, but alone, they’re kind of boring. While I loved those cute moments between Rosie and Henry, I prefer characters that I could root for based on their personality or empathy for them. Don’t get me wrong: in the beginning, I did like both characters. However, that changes when Rosie becomes a bit bland for me (I think she would have been perfectly fine in the early 2010s, though) and Henry begins to take out his frustrations on Rosie.

I did like the school, though, as well as the experience studying in France. I’ve been a big fan of reading boarding schools since forever, and thought that this book had a fun take on boarding school life. Also, the story really goes into detail about backstory of the school as well as characters within the novel, which I really appreciated. It made things easier to imagine and gave more depth to the story.

Overall, while I didn’t get into Love à la Mode as much as I wanted to, I wouldn’t discourage readers from checking it out if they like cooking or baking. By the way, Love à la Mode can be found in bookstores on November 27th, 2018, for those of you who are interested! Do you have any recommendations for great boarding school books, though? If you do, feel free to leave them in the section below.

Take care, everyone! And keep reading! 🙂

–  Sumaya

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: Smothered by Autumn Chilkis

Summary

A humorous debut crossover young adult novel about what happens when entering the “real world” means moving back in with your mother, inspired by actress and celebrity Autumn Chiklis’ real life.

Eloise “Lou” Hansen is graduating from Columbia University summa cum laude, and she’s ready to conquer the world. Just a few minor problems: she has no job, no prospects, and she’s moving back into her childhood bedroom. Lou is grimly determined to stick to a rigorous schedule to get a job and get out of her parents’ house. Shelly “Mama Shell” Hansen, on the other hand, is ecstatic, and just as determined to keep her at home. Who else will help her hide her latest binge-shopping purchases from her husband, go to SoulCycle with her, and hold her hand during Botox shots?

Smothered is a hilarious roman à clef told via journal entries, text messages, emails, bills, receipts, tweets, doctor’s prescriptions, job applications and rejections, parking tickets, and pug pictures, chronicling the year that Lou moves back home after college. Told from Lou’s point-of-view, Smothered tells the story of two young(ish) women, just trying to get it right, and learning that just because we all grow up doesn’t mean we necessarily have to grow old. (After all, what is Juvaderm for?)

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Review

Hey, everyone! Another day, another review! Today’s review is on Smothered by Autumn Chilkis. Now, when I first heard about Smothered, I was pretty eager to read it. Not only is it more crossover than YA, it deals with what happens after college, how people attempt to become employed in today’s society, and whatnot. I’ll be honest: that was probably the main reason I wanted to read it. The smothered part was all secondary to me; I just really thought that the content would be relatable. But, in that regard, I was wrong…

First of all, it focused more on her relationship with her mother, which makes sense since the book is called Smothered. These moments were actually pretty funny, and I love how bold Lou’s mother could be at times, especially in comparison to Lou. She’s just trying to help Lou in the best way she knows how, even if it’s not exactly right for Lou. They just have to figure out a new dynamic to their relationship if Lou wants to be treated like an adult.

I also really liked the different formats of communication within the novel – such as emails, texts, Facebook messages – integrated into Lou’s POV. It made for some funny dialogue!

The only thing I didn’t like about the novel was that Lou’s privilege really shows. I think it’s intentional, since the writer has both Lou’s father and her boyfriend call her out, but it sure can be annoying at times. I get it; she’s from an upper-middle class family, living in LA, which probably means she will have a mindset geared towards that privilege and might not even realize it. This doesn’t mean that I didn’t cringe when she describes her hunger level at one point in a juice cleanse equivalent to Africa. Or when her friend Natasha goes to India to study and report about cultural violence against women. Firstly, not everyone in Africa is starving, and the fact that she thinks they are says a lot about her. That’s a whole continent of people! Obviously, there will be people who are struggling and people who aren’t, just like in any other place in the world. Secondly, it doesn’t make sense to me that her friend had to go all the way to India to study cultural violence when she cold have easily gone to a women’s shelter in her city. Maybe there’s some logical explanation for it all and I’m just overreacting. But just reading that one sentence got me ranting about how this all stems from the idea that Western countries are more civilized than Eastern countries, which is a dangerous idea to have. But I should cut this off before I start ranting even more.

Well, that’s all I have to say about Smothered by Autumn Chilkis. While I do appreciate more crossover novels in general and liked the mother-daughter dynamic, I feel as if this book could have benefited from removing assumptions about other cultures. If it’s meant to show how privileged Lou is, then readers can already get a sense of that without perpetuating these dangerous ideas and conceptualizing people in that way.

For those of you who are still interested though, Smothered hits stores this Tuesday, August 7th.

Have a nice day, everyone!

– Sumaya

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: Sadie by Courtney Summers

Summary

Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meagre clues to find him.

When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

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Review

Trigger Warning: emotional abuse and molestation 

Hello, fellow readers! It’s been a while, but I’m back with another review, this one being on Sadie by Courtney Summers. While I haven’t read any of Courtney Summer’s other books, as soon as I heard about this one at the latest TeensRead event, I knew I wanted to read it. It’s kind of surprising, since I’m not a huge fan of thrillers, what with me questioning every decision the protagonist makes, but this one seemed different. Possibly because of the podcast element. And I wasn’t wrong.

First of all, I loved the chapters alternating between Sadie’s POV and the podcast transcript. There was just so much story in both. For instance, as one chapter ends, the next POV would carry on seamlessly. The podcast would fill readers in on anything Sadie might have left out in her narration and vice versa. Plus, the storytelling elements for both of these POVs were superb.

Then there were the characters. These were fleshed-out people whose story cannot be contained in a single novel, but the author did an outstanding job in giving readers a glimpse. What I’m trying to say is that the author gives us characters that aren’t good or bad – with the exception of some – but have their own story to tell alongside Sadie’s. And for most of these characters, you feel some level of empathy for them. Especially Sadie. As I’ve said before, a lot of time when I try to read thriller or mystery, I find myself constantly questioning the protagonist and their motivations. Not this time. I understood exactly why Sadie was doing what she was doing and empathized with her throughout the entire novel.

Well, that’s all I have to say about this novel for now. If you’re into true crime podcasts, Macmillan made a fake one for Sadie called The Girls (the name of the podcast in the novel). The first episode is available right now, too! As for the novel, I honestly would recommend this to anyone who likes to read thriller or mystery; it gets you questioning the sad truths about missing girls and how people shouldn’t simply fit them into a stereotype just to make it easier. Fair warning though: the ending will leave you with more questions than answers. And for those of you are interested, Sadie comes out on September 4th, 2018.

Also, after reading Sadie, I plan to read more of Courtney Summer’s novels. If anyone has read one of them and they would like to recommend it, feel free to share the title in the Comments Section below!

Thanks for reading everyone!

– Sumaya

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: Scream All Night by Derek Milman

Summary

A darkly hilarious contemporary realistic young adult novel about growing up and finding your place in the world, perfect for fans of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and Running With Scissors.

Dario Heyward knows one thing: He’s never going back to Moldavia Studios, the iconic castle that served as the set, studio, and home to the cast and crew of dozens of cult classic B-horror movies. It’s been three years since Dario’s even seen the place, after getting legally emancipated from his father, the infamous director of Moldavia’s creature features.

But then Dario’s brother invites him home to a mysterious ceremony involving his father and a tribute to his first film—The Curse of the Mummy’s Tongue. Dario swears his homecoming will be a one-time visit. A way for him to get closure on his past—and reunite with Hayley, his first love and costar of Zombie Children of the Harvest Sun, a production fraught with real-life tragedy—and say good-bye for good. But the unthinkable happens—Dario gets sucked back into the twisted world of Moldavia and the horrors, both real and imagined, he’s left there.

With only months to rescue the sinking studio and everyone who has built their lives there, Dario must confront the demons of his past—and the uncertainties of his future. But can he escape the place that’s haunted him his whole life?

Sourced from Goodreads

Review

My rating:

Hey there, fellow readers! I recently read Scream All Night by Derek Milman and I’ve got to say that I really enjoyed it! At first, I was a tiny bit skeptical that I would like it, what with it being compared to Nice Try, Jane Sinner and all. I loved Nice Try, Jane Sinner right off the bat, so when I didn’t like this one right away, I thought it was a sign that I wouldn’t like the book as well. But it’s just that Dario is definitely his own character and comparing him to Jane Sinner wasn’t really fair of me. Thankfully, I kept on reading to see what happened next and I’m glad that I did!

What did I like about this book? Where do I begin? Other than it obviously being in the realm of the entertainment industry and Moldavia Studios itself having an elusive history, I really liked the relationships represented in this book. From Dario and his family, to Hayley and Moldavia as well, this book explores all Dario has left behind when he was forced to leave home as a child. All these connections made him the person he is today, whether he wants to admit that or not. In the end, Dario has to figure out how to accept his past if he wants to start the next chapter of his life.

I really liked the pacing of the story as well. Even though a lot of time has passed, that can easily be explained away by how oddly time can move being secluded in Moldavia. This made the story more fast-paced and less involved in the details. It also contained little articles that helped push the story along, whether it was about Moldavia Studio’s founding, Dario’s parents, or Zombie Children of the Harvest Sun, the movie Dario and Hayley starred in when he was young. Honestly, it was kind of hard to finish this book since that meant leaving the characters and their compelling stories.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book by Derek Milman and glad it was recommended to me. If you like reading about B-rated horror movies, the ongoings of the entertainment industry and people trying to figure out their place in the world, you should definitely check out Scream All Night. It comes out on July 24th, 2018. Also, if you have any questions about Scream All Night or any recommendations on books like Scream All Night, feel free to comment in the section below.

Have a nice day, everyone!

– Sumaya

I received this copy from a publicity agency via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: Star-Touched Stories by Roshani Chokshi

Summary

Three lush and adventurous stories in the Star-Touched world.

Death and Night

He was Lord of Death, cursed never to love. She was Night incarnate, destined to stay alone. After a chance meeting, they wonder if, perhaps, they could be meant for more. But danger crouches in their paths, and the choices they make will set them on a journey that will span lifetimes.

Poison and Gold

Now that her wish for a choice has come true, Aasha struggles to control her powers. But when an opportunity to help Queen Gauri and King Vikram’s new reign presents itself, she is thrown into the path of the fearsome yet enchanting Spy Mistress. To help her friends, Aasha will have to battle her insecurities and perhaps, along the way, find love.

Rose and Sword

There is a tale whispered in the dark of the Empire of Bharat-Jain. A tale of a bride who loses her bridegroom on the eve of her wedding. But is it a tale or a truth?

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Review

My rating:

Hello, fellow readers! Another day, another book read! Today, I’ll be reviewing Roshani Chokshi’s Star-Touched Stories, short stories set in the same world as The Star-Touched Queen and A Crown of Wishes. I was so happy to get a chance to read this as I’ve loved the author’s previous books! And I’m glad to say that these short stories didn’t disappoint!

The collection is comprised of three short stories, focusing on the relationships of Night and Death, Aasha and Zahril, as well as Gauri and Vikram. These stories were pretty engaging in getting into the heads of the protagonist, describing the plight in such exquisite detail! And the romance! Oh, my! The romance between these characters was just amazing! It reminded me of old relationships within the previous books as well while also giving me a burgeoning new relationship that make my heart flutter!

Also, I’ve got to say that I’m a big fan of Roshani Chokshi’s writing style. It’s beautifully descriptive, with imagery that gets you right inside the stories. Even when nothing’s going on at that specific moment, I couldn’t help but enjoy the story because of the writing.

Overall, I really liked reading these short stories, with the only thing I can comment on is the fact that they’re way too short for my liking! 😉 But such is the way of a lot of the stories I’ve been reading and loving lately. I just hope to see more stories from this series! If anyone is a fan of this author’s work or would like a taste of her writing, I would definitely recommend reading Star-Touched Stories. And to those who are interested, the book comes out on August 7th, 2018!

That’s all for now! Have a wonderful day, everyone!

– Sumaya

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

Review: Final Draft by Riley Redgate

Summary

The only sort of risk 18-year-old Laila Piedra enjoys is the peril she writes for the characters in her stories: epic sci-fi worlds full of quests, forbidden love, and robots. Her creative writing teacher has always told her she has a special talent. But three months before her graduation, he’s suddenly replaced—by Nadiya Nazarenko, a Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist who is sadistically critical and perpetually unimpressed.

At first, Nazarenko’s eccentric assignments seem absurd. But before long, Laila grows obsessed with gaining the woman’s approval. Soon Laila is pushing herself far from her comfort zone, discovering the psychedelic highs and perilous lows of nightlife, temporary flings, and instability. Dr. Nazarenko has led Laila to believe that she must choose between perfection and sanity—but rejecting her all-powerful mentor may be the only way for Laila to thrive.

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Review

My rating:

Hi, everyone! I’ve recently finished reading Riley Redgate’s newest novel, Final Draft! I think I liked this one even better than Noteworthy, the other novel I’ve read by her! At first, I was a bit apprehensive about the story not being as good, and didn’t want to read it as much when I thought about it. But I’m glad I did, because I liked it a lot!

If I had to pin down what I liked most about this book, it would be the character development. Our protagonist Laila starts off as unsure and scared to show other people her work. But throughout the novel, we are constantly being shown ways she is taken out of her comfort zone, which definitely helps her grow. Not to say that she didn’t go down a dark path for a bit, but overall, it benefited her to hear criticism about her work and how she should strengthen it.

I did like reading about the other characters as well! I’m liking what I see lately in the books I read where the book isn’t solely focused on the main character and everyone fades into the background. I loved learning more about Hannah, Leo, and Felix. I even got to learn more about Laila’s family and its history. I hope I can read more books like that in the future.

Well, that’s all for now! Overall, I really liked reading this book – way more than I expected, in fact! Have you read Riley Redgate’s other novels? Did you like them? Feel free to answer in the Comments Section below! And any questions you may have are welcome as well!

Have a nice day, everyone!

– Sumaya

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

Summary

On Christmas Eve five years ago, Holly was visited by three ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she’d become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways.

She didn’t.

And then she died.

Now she’s stuck working for the top-secret company Project Scrooge–as the latest Ghost of Christmas Past.

Every year, they save another miserly grouch. Every year, Holly stays frozen at seventeen while her family and friends go on living without her. So far, Holly’s afterlife has been miserable.

But this year, everything is about to change. . . .

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Review

My rating:

purple2.5

I received this copy from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Hi, fellow book lovers! I’m finally back with another review, this one being on The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand. Well, this review has been in the works for a long while now! But it’s finally done! To be honest, that’s kind of how I felt reading the novel, especially near the end. I loved Cynthia Hand’s other books, so this was kind of a let-down for me.

First of all, the retelling sounded pretty interesting. I’ve never read or watched A Christmas Carol, but I’ve heard of Ebenezer Scrooge, bah humbug, and all that jazz. Anyways, it was really nice to read and learn more about the tale in general, the roles people play in the Scrooge’s life and vice versa. I loved the concept of what would happen if the story wasn’t tied up with a happily ever after once Scrooge learned the error of his ways. What would happen if he thought it was all a big joke? Well, this book goes into detail answering that and more by creating a world where people are trying to save others before it’s too late. It did bring up some questions for me, though. Like, why couldn’t it be certain times of the year instead of just Christmas? Or why is it only one person at a time?

While I loved the world building, I didn’t like the characters as much. Don’t get me wrong, I liked them well enough in the beginning, but by the end, I lost the idea of what the story was about and how it even got there. What was it more concerned about: Holly’s character development or romantic development? I’m not really sure. Once the romantic aspect of the novel started, I felt myself getting less interested in the book to the point where I could put it down easily and continue onto other books. It’s not that I’m against romantic entanglements in novels; it’s just that I didn’t feel like it was balanced well against Holly’s character development…

Well, that’s all I have to say about The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand. It wasn’t my favourite by the author, but I loved the concept! Has anyone else read this book or others by Cynthia Hand? And if so, what did you think of it? Let me know in the Comments Section below!

Have a nice day, everyone!

– Sumaya

ARC Review: Far From the Tree by Robin Benway

Summary

A contemporary novel about three adopted siblings who find each other at just the right moment.

Being the middle child has its ups and downs.

But for Grace, an only child who was adopted at birth, discovering that she is a middle child is a different ride altogether. After putting her own baby up for adoption, she goes looking for her biological family, including—

Maya, her loudmouthed younger bio sister, who has a lot to say about their newfound family ties. Having grown up the snarky brunette in a house full of chipper redheads, she’s quick to search for traces of herself among these not-quite-strangers. And when her adopted family’s long-buried problems begin to explode to the surface, Maya can’t help but wonder where exactly it is that she belongs.

And Joaquin, their stoic older bio brother, who has no interest in bonding over their shared biological mother. After seventeen years in the foster care system, he’s learned that there are no heroes, and secrets and fears are best kept close to the vest, where they can’t hurt anyone but him.

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My rating:

black4.5

Hi there, fellow readers! I’m back with another review, this one being on the book Far From the Tree by Robin Benway! I was pretty excited to read this book since it’s by Robin Benway, author of Emmy and Oliver! I remember how much I loved that book and couldn’t wait to get into this one because of it. While I didn’t read it in one sitting (I never get to these days 😦 ), I did read it fervently, wanting to know more about Grace, Maya, and Joaquin. I read anywhere I could, making sure that these characters had my full attention.

As I said, it was all about the characters for me. Benway has done it again by portraying this lovely complex characters that you’d like to know in real life and just hug them. Each one was going through their own struggles, but together, they took that step to moving forward. I loved this immensely! It was as if they needed each other this whole time without realizing it. I also am a fan of each of their POVs, how they fit and correspond with one another. I’m really glad that she chose to write it that way because I first thought it was only through Maya’s perspective for some reason. It was really gratifying to read and easier to empathize with these amazing characters!

I’m not going to lie: this book had me in tears by the end. These characters got to develop and learn more about themselves in the duration of the novel than in years! My only qualm is that the end was a bit too fast, which made wrap-up a bit short and simple. The ending, while satisfying, was kind of jarring since the pacing didn’t really match up to the rest of the novel…

Well, that’s all I have to say about Far From the Tree by Robin Benway. It was a pleasant surprise to read another book of hers, especially after Emmy and Oliver. I can’t wait to see what she writes next! Full disclosure, though: you might end up needing a Kleenex box or equivalent with you near the end. But for those of you who are still interested after the sniffles warning, the book comes out this Tuesday, on October 3rd, 2017!

Take care, everyone! And keep reading!

–  Sumaya

I received this copy from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

 

ARC Review: As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti

Summary

What if you could ask for anything- and get it?

In the sandy Mojave Desert, Madison is a small town on the road between nothing and nowhere. But Eldon wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, because in Madison, everyone gets one wish—and that wish always comes true.

Some people wish for money, some people wish for love, but Eldon has seen how wishes have broken the people around him. And with the lives of his family and friends in chaos, he’s left with more questions than answers. Can he make their lives better? How can he be happy if the people around him aren’t? And what hope is there for any of them if happiness isn’t an achievable dream? Doubts build, leading Eldon to a more outlandish and scary thought: maybe you can’t wish for happiness…maybe, just maybe, you have to make it for yourself.

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Review

My rating:

blue4.5

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Hi, lovely readers! It’s been a while, but I finally have my review up for As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti! And as you can tell from the rating, I loved it! The whole concept was intriguing when I first heard of it. A town where wishes are real and that everyone has access to them? Enter Eldon, a guy who doesn’t know what to do with his wish, try and save his sister or find the perfect wish to set his life right. After all, according to Eldon, everyone else in the town regrets the wish they’ve made. Thankfully, the overall reading experience failed to disappoint me! 🙂

As I’ve said, I really like the paranormal world set up in this book, with it being set in a town called Madison, Nevada. I think it explains how a whole magical town can go unnoticed by the world pretty well, even though it doesn’t really explain how wishing came to be (although it does hint at it near the end). That being said, I like how wishing is connected to adolescence and growing up. You get one wish on your eighteenth birthday, and it’s practically a rite of passage that sets up the rest of your life. After that, you have to take responsibility for your actions (in this case, wishing). You learn so much about people just on their wishes and how they came to be! It makes me really wish an anthology of Madison’s wishes was published for me to read, just like the one in the town museum! 😉

Then there’s Eldon, our protagonist that readers obtain all their info from. At first, you don’t know much about him and just assume that he’s being hard on himself. But as the novel progresses, readers learn more about Eldon of the past and how he was towards others. I found it kind of a funny setup. Usually, the character is made more redeemable by the end of the novel. In this case, Eldon kind of isn’t after learning that he wasn’t so nice to begin with. It was more about rounding out his character than any development really, if that makes any sense. 😉

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book and now want to read more by Chelsea Sedoti! Are any of you excited to read As You Wish? I hope you like it just as much as I do! By the way, all comments and questions are welcome in the section below! And for those of you who are interested, As You Wish comes out on January 2nd, 2018! Thanks for reading everyone!

–  Sumaya

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