Release by Patrick Ness ☆

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5starsplus

“Ain’t no shame in a broken heart.”

Title: Release
Author: Patrick Ness
Good things about this book: The way Ness writes is bewitching!
Bad things about this book: Nothing, at least for me. Check the trigger warnings before reading, though.
Do I recommend it? Yes, absolutely.
Rate: 5+++/5
☆: It made my “favourite books” list

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

I couldn’t put it down and this is the third Ness’s book that has done this to me. I loved it with all my heart; there is something in Ness’s books that resonates with my soul and I feel them embracing me and cuddling me. The magic touch, at first peculiar, settles into the narration almost unnoticed and unforced. All of this makes Release one hell of a book to read and treasure.

This is not the easiest of books, it is a book about life and the obstacles it throws at you; it gives you hope in a better future if you’re willing to fight for it. It is so hard to fight for something you don’t think you deserve because you’ve been “taught” that what you are goes against nature, against the will of a lord you think doesn’t really care how you live your life.

“Through prayer, everything is possible-“
“I don’t know, I’ve prayed for years to change your heart. Nothing’s happened so far.”

Adam Thorn doesn’t believe he deserves being loved. He grew up in a very religious family being the son that’s different in a way they don’t dare to say out loud. Adam is gay and his family thinks it’s merely a phase, they think what he feels is not real. How much realer can it be if it breaks his heart in a million pieces? Adam Thorn has loved and his broken heart is the result of it. Will he ever let go of the past and fight for a future worth living? Will he ever let go of the boy he gave his all to but apparently was never willing to give anything back?

Where on earth had this day come from? And where was it headed?

We follow Adam throughout one day of his life; one day that will change everything. He will wake up, run errands, exercise, go to work, help his father and say goodbye to the boy who broke his heart. It’s going to be a long day, a day of news that will test his mind and episodes that will test his heart. Today everything changes.

He starts his day going to buy flowers his mother will certainly hate, and then running to clear his mind thinking how everything he does is never and will never be enough. He wants to go away and be himself but at the same time he is struggling to find some kind of peace in a home that has conditions for you to be worth being in it.

He can’t evade and find peace at work either with a boss sexual harassing him who knows pretty well how these accusations will go away easily; after all, who will believe a 17-year-old gay boy saying his boss touches him inappropriately? Here comes the frustration, the realization that a teenage boy is helpless, unable to reach for help because the world has this unbelievably twisted conviction that teenagers can only say lies and you should never believe them.

“They’re your parents. They’re meant to love you because. Never in spite.”

Adam finds his peace with Angela, his best friend. She is a tough girl and she is there for him whenever he needs it. Her family is different, open minded and kind, a safe refuge when he needs to get away from his cruel reality. Angela and Adam are a wonderful duo, ready to take the world head high. Their flashbacks show how incredible their friendship is.

“I’m always gay?”
“In every universe.”
“That makes sense. Are you always short?”
“Except in the universes where I’m Beyoncé.”
“In some universes, we’re all Beyoncé.”

I was so happy about Angela because at this point in the book I was ready to fight everyone who was in the way of my big blonde guy and his happiness. Adam deserves the world and I was more than ready to give it to him. Letting go is hard, painful, but once it’s done you’re free to live and start again. Our brain is one hell of an instrument: it tortures us when it decides on its own accord to fish memories you wanted hidden. Mastering the cohabitation with your bad memories is the way to keep them at bay and not letting them hurt you ever again. They are there, you sense them, but they don’t control you; you don’t allow them to do it.

Will Adam be ready to let go? This day will decide it; it will decide his fate.

While we follow Adam on the day his life is going to change forever, a spirit called by one single, an apparently innocent, action will leave the safety of her home to answer questions she doesn’t even know were asked. The magical realism, very similar to the one in the other Ness’ favourite of mine “The Rest of Us Just Live Here”, can seem out of place but you need to let it flow, no questions asked. It’s a parallel quest, seemingly unrelated, to our Adam’s journey, that will set in motion the end of the world, as we know it.

This book left me shaken. I related to parts of the book and sympathize with everything else. I was frustrated and angry, I wanted to scream, I wanted to cry but I also wanted to have hope and believe that maybe the world doesn’t really hate us the way we sometimes think. That maybe we can build ourselves a safe heaven in the midst of our not so very perfect lives.

I loved Release and it confirmed my love for Patrick Ness and the way he writes. It’s a hit or miss in my opinion and I understand when the story doesn’t reach everyone the way it reached me. Nonetheless, it is a story worth reading.

“Never pass up the chance to be kissing someone. It’s the worst kind of regret.”

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The Dark Prophecy (The Trials of Apollo #2) by Rick Riordan

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5stars

“The longer you live, the weirder the world gets.”

Title: The Dark Prophecy (The Trials of Apollo #2)
Author: Rick Riordan
Good things about this book: I loved everything so maybe you will, too!
Bad things about this book: I would love to see again old characters but that’s not really a bad thing.
Do I recommend it? Yes, I always recommend a Riordan.
Rate: 5/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

If there’s a certainty in my life is that any book Mr. Riordan writes is a book that’s not going to disappoint me. So far it has never happened and I’m positive it’s not going to happen anytime soon. I may be 31 years old but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to like stories about teenagers saving the world. Add mythology to the mix and you got me hooked for life.

Apollo is still very human and very mortal and he has to go on quests to get his father, the mighty Zeus, to make him a god again. This time he is flying to Indianapolis with Leo and Calypso riding the metal dragon Festus. I loved these quest companions! I already loved Leo from the Heroes of Olympus’ books and now we get to know the half titan Calypso, newly freed from the exile on the prison island Ogygia.

“Don’t test me, Valdez. When I am a god again, I will make a constellation out of you. I will call it the Small Exploding Latino.”

Apollo is starting to understand how is it to be human a little better than in the previous book but he still has a very long way to go. In order to become a god again is pretty obvious that he has to start seeing things the way demigods and mortals see it. He has to understand sacrifice. He has to understand love. He is starting to see it but it’s still not enough. Well, there are still 3 books to go so I guess we’re going to see funny and frail human being Lester Papadopoulos fight against powerful immortal emperors for a little bit longer.

“It’s not how long you live that matters. It’s what you live for.”

There is a new set of amazing characters that are involved in this quest, and there are also old friends we already knew and surely missed. Hunters, former hunters, a headless cheddar-colored ghost, demigods, griffins, ostriches, a sweet elephant called Livia, and many others. There weren’t plot twists but the story unfolded a little at a time and mysteries were revealed when they were supposed to be revealed.

I guessed the name of the new Emperor they were facing this time because I am a little familiar with roman history, living in Italy and having studied like a good student back in the day. I have to say that I may have not paid much attention in class because a lot of things were new to me; it was nice learning new stuff. I have to admit that my knowledge may have come from movies. A lot of my knowledge nowadays comes from TV shows, movies and books. That’s me, always quoting The Simpsons in everyday conversations!

His eyes gleamed with confidence as if to say, That’s right. I just crawled out of a tunnel, and I still look gorgeous.

As usual, the diversity in Riordan’s books is a breath of fresh air. I love to imagine a world in which no matter who you love, the gender you identify with, the color of your skin, or where you come from, you are not object of hate and violence from ignorant people. The world is a melting pot of human beings and we cohabitate in a world that is amazing. Less hate and lots more of love doesn’t have to be hard to achieve, it has to come naturally like it’s supposed to.

I sighed inwardly. First it had been the zoo at first light. Then the Canal Walk at first light. Now the caverns. I really wished dangerous quests could start at a more suitable time, like perhaps three in the afternoon.

That being said, I just loved how Apollo was a lot more flirtatious with the boys in this book, and hearing about his past love stories was nice; I’m sure there are a lot more stories to be told. I love seeing Apollo, the narcissistic, egocentric, and hilarious god I obviously adore, becoming a better person; I just can’t wait to see this different version of him on Mount Olympus dealing with the other gods and his daddy.

Have I said something to spoil the story? I hope not. Things happen, there are a lot of carrots to peal, dishes to clean, toilets to scrub, monsters to kill and enemies to fight; no time to rest, our heroes are going to be pretty busy.

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The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich

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4stars

Title: The Love Interest
Author: Cale Dietrich
Good things about this book: Its potential and it can be funny.
Bad things about this book: It lose itself and it’s quite random.
Do I recommend it? Yes, give it a try.
Rate: 4/5 (I have to be honest, it’s more like a 3 but the first part made me laugh and it was a nice feeling)

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

There’s an Italian song called “Triangolo” that always comes to mind when I read about two boys fighting over the heart of a frail damsel. These boys are usually perfection, carved from marble, dreamy beyond compare. If there is something I like less than the dreaded miscommunication, it is the dreaded love triangle.

Watch the video of “Triangolo”. Enjoy!

If I was going to judge this book by its cover and by the first part of the summary, then this was obviously a capital n No; but then I read “What the boys don’t expect are feelings that are outside of their training” and, well well well, color me interested. Now that’s a book I want to read. So I read it and, even it wasn’t exactly the way I pictured it, it was thoroughly cute and funny with a pinch (more like half a cup) of action.

There’s an agency that recruits Love Interests to plant in the lives of important people to spy on them and steal their secrets. Sounds plausible, nice idea. They train people since they’re very young until they are needed; they are then given a new identity and a new appearance in order to be ready to woo the Chosen they’ve been assigned to. There is so much potential here and for more or less 70% of the book it was up to it.

A Chosen is, well, chosen, her name is Juliet and two boys are sent to win her heart. A Nice and a Bad like they always do. They have a coach to guide them, teach them how to act in front of Juliet and create scenarios that she will certainly fall for. Looks like a nice and healthy completion but it’s not: the one that’s not chosen gets killed. So now you may understand how I started panicking and trying to figure out a HEA ending with these new premises.

You’re lucky we made you hot, Caden. If she wasn’t attracted to you she would’ve barfed.

Caden is the Nice. Is he nice? No, he’s not but he can act and after spending so much time in that prison-like place, he’ll do anything to get out. Caden is funny and plays the nice and super cheesy flirt boy perfectly. Oh my, some of the things he said made me giggle: they were THAT cheesy. Come on, who says that? He is playing all his Nice Guy cards but in his mind he can’t stop thinking about Dylan and his thoughts are hilarious, I just loved them!

Dylan is the Bad. Is he bad? Not at all. He has a kind heart and child-like honesty that was so nice to see. Not being afraid to feel and express emotions is a quality I want to be shown in books more often. Dylan plays the sexy, bad, tormented soul kind of part and he plays it greatly. Who wouldn’t double check a certified bad boy leaning against a tree reading a poetry book with a pained look on his face? He’s in it to win it!

“Apparently it’ll make me seem like a tortured soul who is lashing out, because I can’t handle all the epic, sexy pain within me.”

Caden and Dylan are both “enhanced” with plastic surgery: new jaw, new hair color, new eye color, and perfect tan. They are built to be the guys any girl would want. They can’t go unnoticed and with the changes they are like supermodels and they have all eyes on them. Put yourself in Juliet’s pants: you suddenly have two gorgeous boys flirting with you so of course you have doubts, you have every right to like them both. Come on, they are put there to please and she is pleased. Oh, she is pleased indeed!

The story is in Caden’s POV so we see how he understands what he feels about Dylan is more than simple friendship and he starts to put pieces together of his life in the facility, realizing he has always been attracted to guys. He is of course troubled, but not much and I liked seeing how he starts reacting to Dylan’s presence and how he knows these feelings can change the game they are playing. Yet he doesn’t once deny he likes him and it means a lot to the story he does that.

I didn’t think I was a chest-hair type of guy, but judging by the erratic things my heart is doing at the moment, I totally am.

As I said, this book was funny, cute, cheesy, YA trope extraordinaire, more or less until 70% of the book. Then it went wild, kind of off rails and got a little weird, a little over the top. Things happened, many things, and one thing in particular I felt was really unnecessary. The ending was pretty rushed and lots of things were left unexplained. I expected a more detailed epilogue.

Nevertheless this was quite an enjoyable book and, like I gave it a chance and liked it, I think everyone who likes the genre should, too.

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[ARC] The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

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5stars

We are not broken things, neither of us is. We are cracked pottery mended with lacquer and flakes of gold, whole as we are, complete unto each other. Complete and worthy and so very loved.

Title: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
Author: Mackenzi Lee
Good things about this book: Grand Tour of Europe of Doom!!!
Bad things about this book: Nothing.
Do I recommend it? Yes, buy it, devour it.
Rate: 5/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

Digital Review Copy received from Edelweiss

I think I’m in my 18th century moment. I’ve been stumbling upon stories and TV series set in that period; stories full of pirates, rich men, funny wigs, leggings and boots, murders, and mysteries. I enjoy all the different ways people tell and write these stories. When it is told well then you not only gain from it in enjoyment but also in learning.

The great tragic love story of Percy and me is neither great nor truly a love story, and is tragic only for its single-sidedness.

Mackenzi Lee did a great job creating a story, introducing different point of views, putting in it a magical component, and making the characters rich in a matter of personality and diversity. We have Monty, a spoiled young man from a rich family who is a rebel and does what he wants, from drinking his heart out to sleeping with both men and women. He is touring Europe with his best friend and secret crush, Percy, who is biracial and is always judged by the color of his skin before anything else. Also he has epilepsy and we see how this condition was viewed in the 18th century and you will get mad. So mad!

“Ladies haven’t the luxury of being squeamish about blood,” she replies, and Percy and I go fantastically red in unison.

Since having only two men who secretly love each other but won’t admit it, with the sexual tension and everything, would’ve been dreadful, Monty’s sister, Felicity, accompanies them. She was scheduled to be with them until her drop off to an academy where young ladies learn how to be ladies. Luckily for her, her rebel of a brother sets off a series of chain of events that are going to turn upside down everything.

“It’s a burden, you know.”
“What is?”
“Being this good-looking. Not a soul can keep their hands off me.”

Monty isn’t without flaws. He is vain, selfish, a lot self-centered, loves to drink and isn’t the most subtle person there is. He also isn’t without problems of his own. Not only problems caused by his “abnormal” tendencies but also caused by that monster that calls himself his father. I hate that man and I will hate him forever. There were a lot of WTH moments concerning Monty, I can’t say the contrary, as he was childish and stubborn in an exaggerate way. He more often than not, needed a slap and I’m happy there was Felicity to tell him how foolish he was behaving.

“The stars dust gold leafing on his skin. And we are looking at each other, just looking, and I swear there are whole lifetimes lived in those small, shared moments.”

I rooted for his happy ending from the very beginning, seeing how deep his love for Percy was. I understood his struggle when put in front of a situation he wasn’t familiar with but I also sided with Percy and his personal battle. They both needed and deserved to be happy and free of those poisonous people who failed to see how wonderful they were.

I loved this book. I fought to get an advanced copy and when I got it I was all smiles and giggles. I can’t wait to have the physical book in my hands. The beginning was promising and it kept on giving until the ending that did not disappoint me one bit. It was perfect and everything I could ask for: love, adventure, pirates, alchemy, great cities and great characters. There’s so much more to say but I’ll leave you to it. Read it as soon as it’s released.

Fetch me a couch, for I nearly swoon. <<< Me, too, Monty. Me, too!

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Honestly Ben by Bill Konigsberg

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5stars

Even in that strange, disorienting place between sleeping and waking, my brain recognized the irony of hearing my name whispered from a closet.

Title: Honestly Ben
Author: Bill Konigsberg
Good things about this book: Ben is just one of us and you will relate to him and his problems!
Bad things about this book: I would have loved an epilogue.
Do I recommend it? Yes, I’m positive you will like the ending of this duology.
Rate: 5/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

Reviewing this book is going to be hard, maybe impossible. Everything I want to say it’s a spoiler not only of the first book but also of this one and without talking about what I want, I can’t express what I liked about this book. See? Impossible.

I liked very much Openly Straight. I loved Rafe as a main character, I loved his voice, his flaws and how he was with Ben, Toby and Alby, We all know what happened in Openly Straight and how sad I was when it ended the way it ended so I was hoping for a happy ending in this companion/sequel. Then I read the summary and was scared about what was going to happen.

Having Ben as the main character was different. I didn’t know what to expect and at first I was a little perplexed. Ben has issues: with his dad, with school, with his baseball teammates and obviously with Rafe after what happened. He was freaking out and he was overwhelmed with so many things that he wasn’t seeing what was right in front of him. He liked Rafe, why the hell was he denying it?

Weird. I was just plain weird, and it was a good thing no one had access to my innermost thoughts.

Of course I know why he was pretending not to feel anything but I still got annoyed. I wanted him to want more for himself, not what others wanted him to want. I can’t explain it well. He was trying to make everyone happy but himself. He was stressed, confused, angry, sad. It wasn’t ok. I wanted to help him, tell him it was going to be ok, that he needed to really talk to someone because he was the only one who could get himself out of all those situations. He needed to get a grip of his life and decide to be happy for himself, not for others.

It’s a very nice book; it is deep. It has important themes, very important I must say, that will get you thinking. It got me thinking about privilege, homophobia, labels and the pressure put on such young people. And so much more!

Okay, you see, most people in the world take paths that are expected. They go to school, get a job, get married, have kids. Then there are the rest of us. We’re on left-handed paths. It’s not what’s expected. The world would like it better if we didn’t take these paths, because the world doesn’t know what to do with people who buck the system, or explore things that are new.

I won’t say more about what I read. The summary says half of it and the other half you need to find out reading the book. If you’re curious about Ben and if you want to know if Rafe and him can be friends again, or maybe more than that, then you need to give it a chance.

I am happy about how it ended but of course I wanted more. I think it lacked an epilogue. An epilogue would’ve been nice but we can’t have it all, can we?

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[ARC] Geekerella by Ashley Poston

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4stars

“I hear the observation deck is nice this time of year, Carmindor.”
“Only on the south side of Metron.”

Title: Geekerella
Author: Ashley Poston
Good things about this book: Diverse characters and a made up fandom I already want to be a part of.
Bad things about this book: Nothing comes to mind!
Do I recommend it? Yes, it is adorable.
Rate: 4/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

[ARC received via Netgalley]

You’d think you’ve seen one Cinderella retelling and you’ve seen them all, right? Geekerella proved me wrong and, trust me, I have seen and read almost all of them. It takes the retelling to a level I wasn’t expecting; I wasn’t disappointed. I knew the anger for her stepmother and stepsisters was going to be off the charts, and it was, but in the end the rest of the story was much more interesting and the frustration for Elle’s situation was put a little bit on the side.

The beauty of this book is that there’s not only Elle’s side of the story. We see as much of Elle’s life and we see Darien’s. We see both stories, both struggles and how their worlds, so different, collides. I loved all the geeky references. I’m happy to say I knew every single one of them. It’s great to see someone else being as much of a geek as you are.

Elle is a super fan of a classic tv series called Starfield. He saw every single episode a trillion times with her father and now that he’s gone, she still feels the show like a big connection between them. She is a Stargunner, that’s the fandom name, and writes a blog about it. It’s funny seeing how the fandom explodes as soon as a reboot of the series is announced. I have seen this happening so many times. We have new fans of the series, old fans, and fans of the actors playing the roles. And it’s a complete chaos. Tumblr drama!

Our dear Darien, a character I loved from the very beginning, is an actor and, yes, he is going to play Carmindor in the new reboot movie. Are the fans happy? Of course not. They don’t know how big of a geek our boy is. Oh, if they knew they’ll be totally in love with him and much more supportive. Playing such a big role, a character people have loved for years, puts a lot of pressure on such a young boy. His life is not going to be the same. Darien is already famous; he acts in a tv series, maybe something like 90210 or Dawson’s Creek, and has lots of adoring fangirls. And with adoring, I mean obsessed.

Elle works in a vegan food truck called the Magic Pumpkin with the eccentric Sage. She has a curfew and has to do every single chore around the house. The poor girl is a mess and needs to find the courage to stand up for what’s right and build herself a better present and future. She doesn’t need to be saved; she needs to believe she can so that she will be free of the injustices life has thrown at her.

But no one should be that vicious, period. She’s like a Dalek with a blacklist. Absolutely relentless.

Darien, on the other hand, doesn’t have a perfect life like people might think. He is rich, famous and has landed a big movie role, but he isn’t himself, he sells the image his manager, his father, has built for him. He just wants to show the world the things he cares about, he wants to show his weak sides, his fun sides, a lot about him that people usually assumes without taking time to know him better. Darien is such a sweet boy, adorable and funny. There’s so much about him that people don’t see and it’s a pity because I think those sides of him are what makes him the wonderful boy he is.

Needless to say, I loved Elle and I definitely loved Darien. I wanted them to find happiness, to be their best selves and to be free of things that were taking them down. Let’s just say I was glad this was a retelling because if there was not going to be a happy ending I was going to get cranky. I love happy endings.

There’s so much to love about this book. It deals with the importance of representation in the media: Darien is dark skinned and so is Carmindor. A kid seeing someone like him in a tv show is important, can change the way they face the world, it can make a difference. It also has lgbtqia+ characters: they aren’t in the background, only mentioned and soon forgotten. I always struggle to understand how hard can it be to write diverse books. We live in a diverse world and our everyday lives aren’t all one shade. It should be easy, almost too easy in my opinion.

This is my second retelling of the year and, as I said before, I was not disappointed. I have smiled a lot and a book that makes me feel so much has to be a book worth reading. Right?

Look to the stars. Aim. Ignite.

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The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

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4stars

“They are twilight creatures, beings of dawn and dusk, of standing between one thing and another, of not quite and almost, of borderlands and shadows.”

Title: The Darkest Part of the Forest
Author: Holly Black
Good things about this book: The fairies.
Bad things about this book: The end: I wanted to know more.
Do I recommend it? Yes, I do.
Rate: 4/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

A fairy boy trapped inside a crystal coffin in the middle of the forest? Sold! The magical atmosphere of a city called Fairfold in which humans cohabitate with the Folk is something I have always wanted to experience. Yeah, I know fairies aren’t cute little creatures with tiny wings and pompons on their shoes, but still, it feels like the kind of town I want to live in. Fairies as unbelievably beautiful and vicious, and also a little bit creepy? Yes, please!

As much as I enjoyed the book as a whole package with all its magic, mysteries, rare swords and cute people, I found the first part of the story hard to digest, mainly because of Hazel. I found her a little bit too annoying and immature. I get the teenage drama thing but it was starting to get on my nerves. Maybe I was too hard on her, maybe not, thing is I got to know her a little bit better in the second half of the book and, guess what, I didn’t dislike her as much.

“You and your sister are very dear to each other. To show your regard, you give each other lovely bouquets of lies.”

The second half of the book has Severin and more Ben and Jack so maybe they are also guilty of making the second part better. Severin, the horned boy finally free, is obviously beautiful and strong, and with him mysteries also came free. I loved Severin’s character: adorable, intriguing, charming, and dreamy. It’s officially a crush. I also liked very much Ben, Hazel’s brother. I like him from the beginning and I was so happy to read the chapters in his pov.

I could write about everything and spoil the book but I won’t. First, because lately I’m having a hard time writing reviews. Let’s say, harder than usual. Second, because I threw myself blindly into it and, after having done that a few times already, I have to say that that’s a better way to read a book. Don’t read anything about it. The less you know, the more you’ll like it. For me it’s been that way lately.

Severin, I already miss you! So long, cutie pie!

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