Odd Thomas

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

3 stars

I read a Dean Koontz book back in high school called Intensity. I remember it being so scary suspense that I couldn’t put it down and finished in a few hours. It was scary and in a good way that puts the fear of Jesus in you. I think I checked the locks and doors in our house for weeks afterwards.

It’s been a decade (or so) since then and now horror books and movies don’t appeal to me as much. So when a friend raved about this series I was a little hesitant. But I’m glad I picked this up. Guys, it’s actually not that scary! I’d say it’s more The Sixth Sense level than The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. In fact, that’s the premise behind this whole story.

The Story:

Odd Thomas is a fry cook for a diner, he’s a little strange and known for being the town wierdo. He sees dead people.

And he uses this paranormal gift to prevent crime or to solve them. In this first novel, Odd comes across a stranger, gets serious bad vibes and tries to save his podunk California desert town from apocalyptic danger with the help of his girlfriend Stormy and the town sheriff.

The Characters:

Odd- I really like him. He has some baggage, which you learn of in length as Koontz does a lot of character building, but seems like a really nice guy who just wants to marry his sweetheart and to stay out of the spotlight. Which is odd (is it a pun when it’s his name?) for a 19 yo guy. How many guys want to settle down at that age? He does seem a bit reckless at times too, however, it seems like all characters in horror books/movies do things that have you shouting, “NO, don’t go in there!”

Stormy- She’s beautiful, alluring, and eclectic. Perfect sidekick to a crime preventing, dead-people-seeing humble hero.

Wrap-up:

I’m giving it 3 out of 5 stars. It was a little slow and the whole time I kept thinking it was a rip off of The Sixth Sense. But I’m going to read the next one and see if it gets better. I’ll keep you guys posted.

-Hannah

 

The Rules of Persuasion

The Rules of PersuasionThe Rules of Persuasion by Amity Hope

1 star

ARC received from Netgalley for a fair review.

The Story-The Rules of Persuasion was 95% predictable, but 100% full of angsty cuteness. Honestly, if you have read any YA contemporary where a boy or girl get’s someone to be their fake boyfriend or girlfriend then you have read this book. The only the thing that is different is the circumstances surrounding the initiation of fake relationship. This review may contain what is considered spoilers, but honestly I think everything I write in here should be entirely expected….so I’m not going to mark it all spoiler. Let’s review this trope recipe:

-someone needs a favor/blackmails
-they actually run in different circles/don’t like each other
-they write down all the rules
-the rules doesn’t stop them for getting a dose of the feels
-shit is going to hit the fan right

Well, you get the idea….

The Characters
Meg-Somehow this girl was supposed to be a girl that wasn’t like other girls. But let’s face it, she was just your average girl, minus her family issues, not some crazy special snowflake. The downside is, that she is sort of a forgettable character. I just finished hours of reading about her and this is what I know:
-she likes to wear high heeled boots that click clack, preferably in black.
-she has two friends, but she only really hangs out with them in school…except to get ready for a date..
-she’s not really into anything in particular…….like really, what are her interests? Sure she watches black and white movies…on rainy days…she likes the beach because of her sister…she graffiti’s because of her sister…in fact she wears black because of her sister… She wants to be a counselor, why? Because she got good counseling…after what happened to her sister. Don’t get me wrong, that’s great and all. But who is this chick? I don’t know, I hardly remember her.

Luke-What can I really say? This is a contemporary YA novel. Let’s hit every cliché thing that accurately describes Luke:
-he’s rich, but wants nothing to do with his family
-he’s good looking
-he’s good at sports too
-he’s also smart – party because he has to study hard for his family
-he has an ex gf who’s a heinous bitch.
-You know what else? He’s got dimples & smirks a lot. That’s right. He was smirking within 2% of the book. I almost decided to keep count of all the times his smirkiness was mentioned….but it got old really fast. Let’s be completely real, if someone smirked at you that much you would be sort of weirded out right?

The Connection-Despite the book being cute, it wasn’t entirely relatable. I understand the need for these kids to act out in their own way but there were a few things that just plain bothered me. The biggest part was how the rich kid was somehow supposed to feel bad for being rich. Like I’m sorry that you had to move from a house where you had a walk in closet at one point. Also, not everyone has parents that allow them to commandeer their old motorcycles… there is something that really irks me when a character bashes another one about being rich, like somehow that makes them a bad person. You know what that makes them? Rich. It shouldn’t be used as a way to make the poorer character seem like a better person.

I’m sorry for all the lists in this review. It was sort of unavoidable to do while pointing out everything. Now if you’ve never read a fake bf/gf book before, it could all be fresh for you and you might like it. Unfortunately, this book didn’t have enough spin to it to make me actually like it that much.

Strange the Dreamer

28449207Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

2 stars

“And anyway, she asked herself, what real risk was there? It’s just a dream, she answered, though of course it was so much more.” 

Strange the Dreamer is the story of Lazlo Strange, a decided dreamer. What does he dream of? The mythical lost city of Weep. Despite the lack of interest in Weep that his colleagues has, Lazlo is assiduous in his studies and finds himself an opportunity of sorts to travel to the city, literally, of his dreams. He along with a band of variety of specialists find themselves on a expedition to find out what happened to the city 200 years prior when it lost communication with the rest of the world, and most importantly what has been haunting the city since. Through the journey Lazlo experiences more life than he had ever read of in his books.

The Story-The one word I think of is oxymoron. This book was so enchanting but at the same time sluggish and boring. There was beautiful prose and imagery, but it only amplified the buildup of the story. While I am happy I didn’t DNF the book, I doubt I will be picking up the next installment, unless I don’t have anything better to read. The part that really made me just so mad in this book was didn’t even happen until 70% At that point, I had to decide if I was too far invested to give up, which clearly I didn’t.

All I can say is, the ending only just barely makes up for that curve ball. If you can suffer the few chapters there is quite an exciting finish, that may or may not be expected. Thinking back on it, it really is the only way to end the story (minus my complaint that will come later in the spoiler at the end of this review).

The World Building– What makes this underdog story unique is the pitch that Laini Taylor gives it in. Here we have this whimsical city that would make a 5 year old Lazlo gallivant in an orchard pretending to be warrior from, risking a beating from the monks that took him in. The world that Lazlo comes from is drab in comparison to his dreams, and it is because he is a dreamer that we get the opportunity to have such a vivid world.

The Characters
Lazlo-Obviously he is what really drives this story. Without Lazlo’s idiosyncratic imagination, we would have nightmares. It’s his candor personality that makes him so lovable. The way he covets weep, shows respect to it, and does his best to understand it helps us empathize with the people of Weep when we discover what has been going on.

Sarai– It’s Sarai’s contriteness that diverts our predilection against the haunting of Weep. She is unintentionally ostracized from her companions due to how she was raised and what was expected of her.

Now there were definitely some characters that got some extra sections that were unnecessary, as well as some that should have received a little bit more love. I think it is largely due to the long winded world building and the curve ball chapters. But who knows, maybe the next installment in the series will focus in on their story, their struggles, and what their dreams may be…even if they are broken.

*****Spoiler time******
The insta-love was just a shock to my system. Here I was engrossed in this underdog story with a beautiful world building, and then BLAM! a chapter on two lonely characters learning to kiss. I don’t mean like a quick paragraph of *smooch smooch* that feels great!. I mean this part of the book was written just like the rest of the book was, achingly beautiful but long winded.

I totally understand that they were lonely, and they had this connection that is dreams and the beauty in it. But what the what?? Their love was rushed while everything else in the book took time. Now while I thought that it was necessary for the Goddess of Nightmares to have a connection with Strange the Dreamer, they could have had a bond of friendship, a true camaraderie, or heck even just a slow simmering romance.


*****End Spoiler*****

Don’t remember who wanted book playlists, but here, at least, is my theme song for this book The Dear Hunter – The Kiss of Life. I thought of this song as I was reading throughout the entire book, and I actually do find it quite fitting. Also, it’s from one of my favorite bands. ❤

-Scrill

What to Say Next

30199656What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum

“I realize we all walk around pretending we have some control over our fate, because to recognize the truth – that no matter what we do, the bottom will fall out when we least expect it – is just too unbearable to live with.”

My first thought after reading What to Say Next was this: Kasie West, move over. I think West has dominated as my favorite author for YA contemporary (partly because she pumps out books so quickly) However, Buxbaum is fast on her way to being my new favorite. Tell Me Three Things was already on my favorites this, and not this one gets to join its ranks. I will read anything by her now. If you are a fan of YA contemporaries, don’t wait too long to read this. It is sooooo goooood. Heartwarming and devastating at the same time.

WTSN is about Kit whose dad just died in a car accident, and in an attempt to avoid the pressure of acting normal again sits with the guy, David, who always sits alone. Expecting to be able to sit without expectations and without talking, Kit finds an unexpected friendship with David. David finds his world expanding exponentially as he comes to befriend Kit.

The Story-Guys this book was both heartwarming and devastating at the same time. At first, I thought this might fall into the ugly duckling trope… you know the one where one character helps the shy character break their mold, be popular, or just live up to all their hidden potential. Now while Kit eventually did break David out of his shell, she didn’t expect him to or want him to change. It was the experience of befriending Kit that helped David change. The change wasn’t to make more friends or be popular; it was to embrace himself as he was.

“Usually they end with me promising to try harder, though I never really know what I’m promising to try harder to do.
Be normal I think.
Be like the neurotypical, which is another way of saying “everyone else.”
Be less like me.
I no longer want to be less like me.”

Truly, the peculiar friendship that they build is what drives this story; the awkwardness and coping with the heavy matters as well as what can be the most trivial things to the “normal” kids.
What’s also great about this book as a YA contemporary about a boy and girl is that it is not largely driven by romance or hatred. Their friendship was brought to them by the death of Kit’s dad and a huge part of the book is how being friends with David acts that helps Kit get not necessarily over it, but through it, along with the other issues she has going on. It’s David’s awkward directness that helps her feel like she doesn’t have to pretend she’s okay.

The Characters– I love David Drucker. Of all the boys in any YA contemporary book, I think he is my favorite. It isn’t because he’s good looking, smart, or just generally a sweet guy (in his own way). It was his inner monologues. David takes everything literally.

Also, the way David approaches his problems are so logical, even though sometimes his logic isn’t how we understand it. It’s the moments when he doesn’t understand why things are happening the way they are that pushes him overboard, and that is probably the most devastating part because it’s in those moments when you realize the only person who can really help him is himself pushing outside of his normal understanding.

“…let her no shit pass without comment, even though she knows it’s an expression I do not like. It makes me think of constipation, which makes me think about grunting, my least favorite noise, after squawking and chewing. I also have a list of favorite noises. It has one item on it: Kit’s laugh.”

Kit’s a bit in over her head emotionally, and I feel sorry for her situation. What I loved about Kit was that she didn’t have any ulterior motives or negative feelings towards David to start. She is aware of how he has been treated in the past or how he’s reacted in stressful situations, never made it her mission to be any sort of bully towards him. With that being said, she still fell into the category of kids that ignore him, until that is he changes her view. In her way she helps David experience teenage life like he’s never had the opportunity to and he broadens her narrow way of looking at life.

The Connection-I feel like this book takes on the bullying aspect without it being the sole focus. It’s more of the reaction from David that we experience. In this situation it is a much highly irregular situation as it wasn’t just because he was poor, ugly, or just unpopular. It truly was his personality that triggers the way people treated him…not that it’s any excuse. The sad part is everyone knows that this kind of treatment happens and it’s incredibly heart breaking. It’s heart breaking for both people like David, for the kids that just don’t know any better, and for the kids who pretend it isn’t happening. I think that’s where the book really hits home, because let’s be real, its actually small amount of people who are the true bully, it’s the rest of us that stand by that make the vast majority and why people can relate to Kit, even if the rest of her circumstances aren’t the same.

-Scrill

Let’s Go to the Mall (Today)!

Via SnapChats
Scrill: Hey, got done with that birthday dinner early. Want to hang out? Girls night?!?
Me: Sure, come pick me up
Scrill: I’ll be there in 15 minutes

In person-
Scrill: You aren’t dressed. Go change. I’m not wearing scrubs for once.
Me: Fine.
Scrill: So whatcha wanna do today?
Me: Well the library’s closed….We could go to Barne’s and Noble. OH WAIT…..DID YOU KNOW THERE IS A NEW LIBRARY AT THE MALL?!?

giphy

 

**OBVS we are 90 years old since this is how we spend our dressed up Saturday night. Maybe we should invest in a walker with tennis ball feet**

 

 

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Ever go shopping with someone and wish you could be checking out a book instead? Now you can! Woot woot.

Introducing The BookEnd!! Our very own Spokane County Library now has a location in the Spokane Valley Mall right by Macy’s. It opened June 17th and we finally got to check it out. It is small, but has many of the currently popular books showcased (so long as it isn’t already checked out). It still features many of the other perks of the library besides just books too. It has a computer area and a sitting area perfect for taking a break from all that shopping to rest and read. As a library location you can also still request books to be transferred to that location for hold & pickup. Best of all – mall hours. Need I say more?

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Scrill and I opted to start another buddy read, this time Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer with a joint review to come once we are finished.

Happy reads ya’ll
-Hannah

 

Family Camp Trip – Albeni Cove

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It feels so remote yet it’s less than 1.5 hours away from Spokane. This campground is small, wooded and on the Pend O’reille River. Our spot was surrounded by trees and even had a creek running through it!

Where: Albeni Cove

Info & Booking

What I loved:
-Camping spots are very spaced out, surrounded by trees and level. It’s not a parking lot for tents! I find it weird/uncomfortable to go camping and have strangers right next to you and not having any control of their behavior.
-The swimming area is sandy and clean. It’s pretty shallow for a long depth and then sectioned off by a rope to indicate the deep area.
-Clean bathrooms with showers! Yeah!
-Fire pits are usable even during summer (fire season) and at each site.
-Picnic table at each site.
-If you forget something, Safeway is about a 5 minute drive away. We took a short trip to get the wine I forgot (celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary).

Family Friendly:
100% family friendly. Our kids spent their time swimming, splashing in the creek, hiking, looking for wildlife through binoculars, hiking, and stargazing. Not once did they complain of being bored. Amazing!

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Readability: I finished a novel while we stayed there.It helped that the kids were busy! It’s a new to me series: Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz. Review coming soon!

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Repeat: We would go again. In fact, it was already our second visit.

Happy Trails!
-Hannah

 

 

 

Legend

Legend (Legend, #1)Legend by Marie Lu

3 Stars

In a world in the distant future the US has somehow disbanded and a new government has been put in place. Children are tested on their abilities at the age 10-if they fail they are sent to labor camps, if they pass they go on for further education /job assignments. Legend follows the story of Day, a rebel who wreaks havoc against the Republic and June a prodigy girl from the upper class. When June’s brother is murdered, Day is the prime suspect. June is then assigned to avenge her brother by finally bringing Day into custody. Once June is fully into her investigation, she starts to uncover truths about the Republic that she can hardly stand to believe.

The Story-As a whole the book was pretty entertaining. The reveals in the book are pretty predictable, but it was still a decent read. I probably would have enjoyed this a little bit more if I was younger as it seemed a little juvenile, even as a YA. The maturity level of the characters was a little low, which is to be expected from 15 year olds. However, in the society presented I would have expected the children to mature a little faster.

The World Building-Our book takes place in a futuristic LA that has been divided into sectors. The world building is decidedly minimal. There is obviously a history to the downfall of what is the current United States, unfortunately we don’t really get much on that. What we know is probably the only parts that are relevant to the book, but still, it would have added a lot more depth if we had the hypothetical background…but it’s only book one, so maybe it’s revealed in the later books. What we do get are little snippets like finding a quarter from 1995 (? I think that’s the year at least) and having it be incredibly significant that it stay hidden from the Republic, that it would be incriminating to have that token proving some sort of history. Thus showing us that the population is vastly lied and controlled by a totalitarian government. Gone are the days of a 2 term limit presidency as there is a man who keeps renewing his leadership of the country, and a son that aims to also take over when his father retires, promoting a monarchy-esque rule.

We are given little information about what the Republic stands for, and what their enemies the Patriots are after. But like I said before…maybe their motives will be a revealed later.

The Characters– I liked both Day & June’s characters. They both had their convictions and beliefs that drove them. Day is sort of an enigma since he isn’t really with the Patriots but still causes problems for the Republic, seemingly only to be a rebel. It’s never really quite clear what his end result expectations are to be-aside from being a futuristic Robin Hood.

My only real issue was that considering the circumstances, both June and Day spent an awful lot of time **Spoiler**thinking about kissing each other. I mean, they both have the weight of their personal missions on their shoulders, but they just can’t not think about each other’s lips and being in each other’s arms. I’m on the run from the government, trying to get a cure for my brother, and here I am completely self-absorbed. It seemed out of character for both of them since they both started out so focused. **End spoiler**However, it was a quick easy story that was entertaining from start to an exciting finish.

A Darker Shade of Magic

22055262A Darker shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (Victoria Schwab)

4 stars

“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”

Schwab has this way of presenting a story where you aren’t really rooting for the typical good guys. In A Darker Shade of Magic we are introduced to multiple Londons.

Grey London-what we would be familiar with, magic free (no Harry Potter’s here, sorry), where one of our main charater’s, Lila, hails from
Red London-a flourishing magical city with a red river, where our other main character, Kell, hails from
White London-another magical London that is essentially fading
Black London-well, let’s not talk about that place, because nothing good comes from Black London

These Londons sort of…overlap…so to speak. People used to be able to go from one London to another, but now only Antari (like Kell) can make their way with their magic to cross between through doors they can conjure with blood. While Kell is on a special mission he somehow gets into some trouble, bumps into Lila, and shit pretty much hits the fan.

The World Building-I loved the idea of these overlapping Londons. My favorite part about the Londons were their different levels of magic, and that even though they are all called London, they are nothing alike…except that one spot where there seems to always be a bar/tavern no matter which London you are in. There are different languages and even a limit to the magic that everyone has. Even when it comes to elemental magic there is a variety to it. There aren’t a bunch of people just moving water, fire, and other elements around with their magic. It just isn’t that simple.

The Story-The only reason why I didn’t give this book 5 full stars was because it honestly took me a little bit to really get invested into the story. It took me a good 25% before I was really sure I was going to keep going, because honestly, before that I probably easily could have set it aside and left it to back burn for a while. Fortunately I had enough people pestering encouraging me to read the book that I kept going. Thank the Lord for that. Once you start to really understand all the London stuff and have all the characters established is when the fun starts. It’s original and exciting, and you never know what kind of sticky situation Kell & Lila are going to have to get their way out of.

You know what else? We have a handsome young man and fierce young woman for our main characters. You know what they don’t do throughout the entire book? Swooning for each other. It is so refreshing to read a fantasy story that was primarily driven by romance. Don’t get me wrong, I love those books too. It’s just….refreshing.

The Characters-Let’s be real. It’s the characters that really make this book. I love the idea of the magic & world, but without Kell & Lila, the story would be boring. I love Lila, she really is such a hoot. She’s the type of girl that may fail or make a mess out of things, but doesn’t back down from a fight. She stands up for what she believes in and fights for those that are weaker than their enemies. She seeks adventure and is willing to drop everything familiar and safe to get it. I felt like Kell was so lonely, even with having a family and all his needs met. I don’t think he truly realizes it until he meets Lila and realizes what he is missing.

Now I am eager to read the next book, and ready to spend just a little more time with the fantastic Delilah Bard.

-Scrill

Roar

Roar (Stormheart, #1)Roar by Cora Carmack

5 stars

“You are lightning made flesh. Colder than falling snow. Unstoppable as the desert sands.”

Roar is the gripping tale about Princess Aurora who lives in a land that is ravaged by magical storms. Stormlings like her family, inherit the power to tame and control the storms and it is their duty to protect their kingdom. Except Aurora does not have any affinity with the storms. In an attempt to still protect the kingdom without any magical skill, she is arranged to marry the son of a neighboring kingdom. It is only days before her wedding that Roar begins to realize there is much more the magical storms than she was led to believe.

**Okay before I really dive into the review, can we just appreciate how GORGEOUS this cover is?? I must find out who did this art!!**

The Story-Okay, so maybe not the most original story. Princess has an arranged marriage only for her whole world to change causing a chain of reactions that sends her on an adventure of self discovery. It was the pitch that really did me in. We have had so many elemental books recently where people come across gifts to fight one another. But what if it wasn’t another race or people that you were fighting against, but the world itself? This book hooked me from the start. It was both beautiful and exciting from start to finish. In fact, I don’t recall a dull moment at all. Roar had a vast magical world, feisty characters and plenty of action and romance to drive the story to the very last page.

The World Building– Ok, really magical storms? The world building was so fantastic! The cover is only a small example of how descriptive Cora Carmack writes without droning on and on. The world building slid in seamlessly as the story progressed so you weren’t bogged down by just history or just luscious scenery. The concepts that she introduces were incredibly original. I loved the idea of stealing a storm’s heart and while having said heart it helps you control similar storms. I loved that there are brave souls and that chase and hunt down storms. Everything about the story helps promote vivid imagery that keeps the mind entertained.

The Characters-Aurora is such a great main character. She is spirited, brave, determined but still with fault. She isn’t this magnificent princess that she portrays, but she is willing to fight for the strength that she needs. I loved that she can be naïve but she learns as she goes and doesn’t back down to uncertainty. No one can blame her for keeping her real identity and skills secret because it would cause chaos, therefore causing her to suffer alone without any sort of reprieve.

Locke is not your typical “hero”. He isn’t some brave prince swooping in to save the day. He definitely creates an interesting dynamic as he has to battle his will against the princess’ determined spirit. She won’t back down, and Locke is forced to match her determination.

I love that though everyone may be slightly attracted to each other, there isn’t any instalove or ridiculous romance. Each character has a temperament that adds to the story.

Overall– this was one of my most anticipated books, and I was incredibly happy that it came in my June FairyLoot box. It was love at first sight from just the cover, and it didn’t fail to follow through with any of my expectations. In fact, it both met and exceeded them. It is definitely one of my favorite reads for 2017, and I cannot wait until the next book comes out.

-Scrill

The Traitor’s Kiss

29346870The Traitor’s Kiss by Erin Beaty

4 stars

The Traitor’s Kiss was a pleasant surprise that somehow combined matchmaking with action and espionage. It tells the story of Sage, a girl who has no determination to be married off and ends up working for a matchmaker. Her work requires her to travel with a group of girls as they are escorted to the palace for a grand matchmaking ceremony. As she continues her observations as an apprentice matchmaker she begins to realize that something amiss is underfoot and it’s her insights that could quite possibly save or endanger them all.

The Story-Fantastic. I didn’t even realize that people were comparing this to a Mulan retelling till after I was almost done with the book. In fact, I am honestly confused by the comparison, because it’s not like Sage was off trying to disguise herself as a boy. I loved the fact that she was this normal girl without grand expectations and finds herself in a position that just works for her status and skills. Apparently there is some fuss about girl hating as well, which honestly is quite minimal and I found to be acceptable considering that it was coming from girls within a hierarchy reacting to someone who would be deemed below them. These type of details aren’t there to encourage girl hating rather than to help establish the world building.
As far as the story goes I wasn’t quite hooked at first, which is the only reason why I really knocked a star down. The first portion of the book was mostly spent getting to know our characters and each one had their own quirky personalities. I loved that once you got past the introductions, we were in for an exciting ride. There was so much more than just frilly matchmaking. The action scenes were exciting, the romantic scenes made me blush without anything really happening. There are twists that I was not expecting and only added my intrigue to the rest of the story. I think fans of Mary E. Pearson would appreciate this book.

The World Building-The world building was quite minimal. Most of what was there was primarily historical or hierarchal, in which was explained the business of the matchmaking and how it tied in with the society and essentially gave meaning to our story. The book is set up to where there could be sequels as our story is still half finished. There are still enemies out there, countries to war with, and possibly even more traitors to root out.

The Characters-Sage and Ash were by far the best part of this book. Sage is fiery and smart. She knows what she is capable of and of her own limits. Despite her standing in the hierarchy ladder, she is proud of who she is and just wants a simple life where she can take care of herself. Sage’s relationship with Ash is built on a camaraderie and trust that is tested and tested again. Their romance is both sweet and heartbreaking at the same time.

-Scrill