Thoughts on: To the Bone

This week Netflix released an original movie, To the Bone. I watched a trailer for it last week and instantly decided I wanted to watch it. To the Bone is directed by Marti Noxon and it’s about a twenty year old woman, Ellen (played by Lily Collins) as she struggles with anorexia nervosa.

ToTheBonePosterBefore I go into what I thought about the movie, I wanted to put out a huge disclaimer. I do not personally have an ED (eating disorder) or know anyone close to me who has one. I am not knowledgeable on the subject nor do I claim to be. I truly went into this just trying to learn and understand the characters’ experiences during the movie. Just wanted a short disclaimer as I am reviewing this from a perspective that is completely on the outside of things.

Anyway, onward! There was a lot I liked about the movie. For instance, I loved Lily Collins as Ellen. I thought she did an amazing job in the role and I felt really immersed in her character. I’ve heard some critics say that she felt “too beautiful” and may give some the wrong idea by glamorizing or idealizing an eating disorder. I have to say that I did not have this same reaction. I mean, I agree, she is very beautiful. However, for me, I still felt haunted by her appearance and found it frankly disturbing to watch her at her lowest weights. I also thought it is important to note that Lily Collins has suffered with anorexia previously in her life and I thought she brought a lot of that emotion to the role.

I also liked the humor that played throughout the movie. I know, comedy in a movie that centers around eating disorders may seem a little misplaced; however, it worked great here. The movie is full with sarcasm and bitter dialogue that just propel the movie forward. I think the humor is what helps take it out of just feeling like a Lifetime movie. Instead, it feels more mature, grown up, dark, realistic. It definitely works in favor of To the Bone.

Perhaps, my favorite part of the movie was the fact that there was that there wasn’t a clear cut explanation for why Ellen (later christened Eli) became anorexic. It’s clear she has issues on both sides of her family (her mother and her notably absent father) and they have issues with one another (see: her mother and stepmother) and I think it’s safe to say that her half-sister (although, clearly caring and invested in Ellen’s health) also has some hard feelings toward her. Ellen also is clearly dealing with the emotional aftermath of a horrible incident after she publishes some of her artwork on Tumblr. Of course, these are just some of the most obvious problems Ellen faces; however, none of these are necessarily the cause. Yes, they contribute, but To the Bone doesn’t try to make an easy diagnosis regarding why Ellen is anorexic, because the truth is, there is no one, easy answer.

Lastly, I really thought the ending was well done (note: spoilers in this paragraph.) The ending did not seem unrealistic or like it was a fairytale ending. It felt very true to life. In the end, Ellen/Eli wasn’t miraculously cured. She wasn’t completely healthy living her own life. She didn’t begin to date Luke. She wasn’t perfect and it wasn’t your happily ever after. What you did get though was an ending where Ellen/Eli is finally willing to get better and fight for her life. She tells her half-sister and step-mom that she’s going to be okay, and although we’ve heard her say this several times throughout the movie, it’s the first time the audience is inclined to believe her. I think if things had been tied up too nicely at the end, it would take away from the movie’s integrity. It’s meant to show that sometimes, just deciding to finally fight for yourself, IS enough of a happy ending. In this case, it certainly felt like it to me.

On to what I did not like about the movie. I felt that almost all the secondary characters were completely flat. I felt like we had these characters who lived in the Threshold house and we only got like one or two traits/characteristics about themselves and that was completely it. It all felt so flat to me and didn’t work. I kind of felt the same with her family. It felt like too many characters and not enough time to really delve in and flesh some of the characters out. So while Ellen felt well rounded everyone else just lacked in comparison.

Another thing I did not like about the movie was Luke’s entire plot line. While I felt that he had the potential to be a well rounded character and a foil to Ellen’s, instead it went off slightly onto another path. When he became the love interest, I had to roll my eyes. I felt like it was just too cliche for me. Instead of him just being her friend and supporting her, it had to turn romantic. Plus, it felt so forced between them, I just didn’t feel the chemistry there and it all just felt so off place. I thought a friendship between them would have been much more powerful and less cliche.

Overall, I did enjoy To the Bone. There was a lot I liked about the movie and if you feel like you’re on the same wavelength as me, I’d go as far as to say you’d enjoy the movie too. However, in this case, my dislikes felt intricate to the plot and made the entire story just feel like it lacked depth.

Rating:
For above reasons, I gave it a C+ or a 3/5.

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Links:
Watch the Trailer Here | Interview with both Collins and Noxon | Lily Collins Memoir

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Top 10: Beach Reads

It’s that time of the year where the sweet sunshine has all bookworms searching for good “beach reads.” For me, “beach reads” are books I would read at the beach, poolside, or any summery day. When I think of beach reads, the first thing that came to mind, similar to so many others, are contemporary reads and while they are great beach reads, I wanted to include other genres as well. For me, beach reads are books that are fast paced, relatively light, and overall just good page turners. So for those of you who aren’t keen on contemporary, I’ve included fantasy, sci-fi, and thrillers as well. Without further ado…

Contemporary

1. Endless Summer by Jennifer Echols

Honestly this EndlessSummerW307is without a doubt the first book I think of when I think of a beach read. In fact, my copy has been to the beach many times and probably still has small sand remnants stuck in the pages. You can easily judge by the cover (and the title) that the book takes place in the summer months. It’s about a girl named Lori who is always seen as “one of the guys” by her neighbors, The Vader brothers. They are all great friends, which Lori loves, except this summer she wants more. She’s determined to show one brother that she’s more than just the girl next door. Also, think: another hot brother, wake boarding, swimming, boating, and a whole lot of summer. One of my favorites about this one is the slow burn romance and Lori’s growth as a person. It’s relatively light but there are emotional moments. Definitely a perfect beach read. (This is considered YA rating in terms of steaminess).

2. The Hating Game by Sally Thorneimages

The Hating Game is one of my favorite contemporary reads of all time so of course it had to make this list. While it isn’t exactly about summer (at all) it is an amazing contemporary and a very quick read. The story is light and funny and perfect when I think about what book I’d want to have poolside. I have an entire review written about it here if you’d like to know more. (This is definitely NA rating in terms of steaminess).

3. The Deal by Elle Kennedy

imagesThe Deal was one of the best novels I have read in terms of NA. On the surface it’s about a girl named Hannah teaming up with a hockey player named Garrett so they both get what they want. Garrett needs help in a philosophy class and Hannah needs help making her crush notice her. But it’s so much more than that. It has serious themes throughout the book that help ground it. Sure, it’s sexy and funny and your typical college romance. But it’s also about deep, complex characters with a lot of emotional baggage. However, this book made me swoon like no other. Garrett is another #bookboyfriend I love. Plus, the side characters are awesome and get their own books later in the series (it’s a standalone series but the characters all come from the same friend group) so everyone feels very developed. Definitely try out this contemporary this summer! (or any of Elle Kennedy’s other books).

4. Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

index.jpegThis one was an unexpected favorite of mine. When it was recommended to me, I took one look at the cover (sorry Simone) and thought yeah, absolutely not. Seriously the cover is atrocious. However, one day I was desperate to find a new contemporary book so I decided to give it a try. It turned out to be an amazing book. You get your typical guy meets girl scenario, but you also get a hard, real look at gangs and racism and special needs and friendship and family. You get a well rounded, well developed story that made my heart break for the characters more than once. But above all, you get an amazing love story. Don’t be freaked out by the cover like I was. Give this one a chance, you won’t regret it. (This is definitely NA).

Science Fiction

5. The Martian by Andy Weir

The_Martian_2014.jpegThe Martian is a great, quick paced, science fiction pick. Also, it’s hilarious. It’s laugh out loud funny, which is a bit strange, considering the main character thinks he’s going to die for most of the book. I can’t speak to the “sciency” stuff in the book (in terms of how ‘true’ it is or ‘realistic’) however, I can say that it was epic to read. There was a lot of science involved, but to the common person, it wasn’t confusing to me and it didn’t bog the story down. It’s just a great read and the pacing goes so quickly, I finished it incredibly fast. Definitely a good beach read in terms of humor and pacing.

6. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

cinderThe Lunar Chronicles definitely is one of my favorite series of all time. Think of sci fi, fairytale re-telling, and a bit of contemporary – The Lunar Chronicles has it all. I quickly fell in love with Cinder, the first novel of the series and quickly binged all the books. It has great pacing and the mystery surrounding the characters keeps you hooked for each book and throughout the series. Each hero/heroine paring changes for each book and are based on different fairytales. I have to say though, Cress is my favorite. Cress and Thorne… *swoon* I couldn’t recommend this series enough.

7. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

ready-player-one-book-coverI know Ready Player One made it’s rounds on the book community when it first came out and for good reason. It’s a novel where the main character lives in a virtual reality and tries to play to find the “Easter egg” hidden in a virtual treasure hunt. It’s a nod to the 80s, packed full of nostalgia and gamer references. I don’t particularly love the 80s but I still loved the references and were entertained by them. You definitely don’t need to be a gamer or in love with the 80s to love this book. The pacing is quick and the plot hooks you in to keep you reading until the end. If you’ve already read Ready Player One, then check out Ernest Cline’s newer novel, Armada.

Fantasy

8. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

TheNightCircusI actually was able to read The Night Circus as an ARC, which was pretty cool. This book is DEFINITELY different. It was not a book I typically read, but I was captivated by the very beginning. I dabble in fantasy and wouldn’t say it’s the genre I read the most; however, this book definitely was a great fantasy read for me. It’s about a circus that is only available to the public during nighttime shows and two dueling magicians. Did I mention that only one of them can live? They are also kind of in love with each other. You should definitely pick this one up if you’re looking for a fantasy book that’s off the beaten path a little. The pacing is a bit slower but the mystery surrounding the plot pulls you through.

9.Dorthy Must Die by Danielle Paige

51TkjbEt4EL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Dorthy Must Die is a book I initially picked up just solely based on the cover. I mean, it definitely caught my attention. When I discovered that it was based on a different take on the classic Oz, I was hooked. Think of an Oz where Dorthy, Tin Man, The Lion, The Scarecrow, and Glinda are all evil and the “wicked” witches are now the ones trying to save the land. Insert Amy Gumm, a regular girl from the trailer park just trying to avoid another suspension and now she’s trying to save an entire land from extinction and evil. What I loved most about this book is that evil and good are such fluid concepts, you never really know where anyone or anything stands. The pacing is fast and the characters are enthralling. This will definitely keep you turning the page!

Thriller

10. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

41LG0hcWrzL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Sorry, only one thriller read in this post! I tried to go off the beaten path (at least, a little) and recommend one of Gillian Flynn’s lesser known novels, Sharp Objects. It’s about a reporter who recently got out of a stay in a psychiatric hospital. She’s given an assignment to go back to her hometown where two little girls have been murdered. She’s forced to confront her hypochondriac mother and quite honestly, creepy half-sister and a town who’s completely immersed in the deaths and everyone is wondering whodunnit? This book has enough turns to keep me guessing, and I truly felt weirded out by the end. Definitely give this one a go!

So there ya have it! There are definitely my beach reads this summer. What are yours?

Thoughts on: Riverdale

I’m back with another TV Show review! This time it’s The CW’s, Riverdale. I’ll admit that when it aired in January of this year, I did not watch it. To be honest, it wasn’t even on my radar. I remember seeing some buzz about it because of Cole Sprouse (who plays Jughead) and his return to acting. I also remember seeing the promo pictures (one is featured in this article) and I thought it seemed kind of interesting, but I didn’t know much about the plot. Luckily for me, Netflix had the entire first season and I was Riverdale-Season-1able to binge in (literately, I’m not even kidding, though I wish I were) one day.

The first season has thirteen episodes and the plot surrounds a group of friends and their town after a mysterious death occurs. The series follows the main character, Archie Andrews, although the focus doesn’t stay solely on him. The plot surrounds the main characters, secondary characters, and the mystery surrounding the death of Jason Blossom. All in all, it’s a whodunnit but it also has more. Think of Pretty Little Liars but also Teen Wolf and a little of 90210. It’s got the classic teen “coming of age” story lines but there is also a murder mystery, and I get paranormal vibes. It’s like a grown up Scooby Doo.

In fact, the series is based on the Archie Comics. I’ll be the first to admit I have no knowledge of the comics other than they exist, so I can’t speak to their relevance to the show or how closely (or not) the show stays to the comics.

What I liked: There was a lot that I loved about Riverdale. For one, I was completely caught up in the mystery surrounding the murder of Jason Blossom. What made the mystery enjoyable was that each episode I felt like I got a piece of the puzzle. I didn’t feel jerked around for no reason (looking at you, Pretty Little Liars) or that I watched a ton of filler episodes. I found that each episode gave me something and that something had me pressing “next episode” quickly.

The characters and all of their motives was also something I loved. It kind of felt that at one point, everyone had a motive to kill Jason Blossom. I felt that anyone could have been the killer. And that was exciting. This mystery and uneasiness made me feel as though I couldn’t trust any of the characters.

The music was also something that was pretty awesome on the show. Not only did the feature some cool songs (some of the ones that struck me were “Trouble” by Cage the Elephant, “Boyfriend” by Tegan and Sara, and “No Surprise” by The Shacks) they also featured a band in the storyline, Josie and the Pussycats, and they were phenomenal. Their songs are actually on Spotify so you can listen to them and they are amazing. They had such a unique sound that I loved listening to them perform even if it was just snippets throughout the show.

Jughead and Betty almost made the show for me. I absolutely loved scenes with the two of them. Jughead is easily my favorite character, but Betty is a close second. I don’t want to say more because I don’t want to spoil anything. Just watch it.

Also, have to mention the ending. I loved the ending. I literately can’t wait for season 2. That’s all I can really say without spoiling it. You’ll just have to watch for yourself.

What I didn’t like: Some of the characters were annoying at times. (Looking at you, Archie, and you, Veronica…) I just found that Archie kissed way too many girls. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing, but I felt like he just jumped around continuously from romantic interest to romantic interest. I think I counted around five potentials in a total of thirteen episodes. That just seemed A BIT (a lot) too much for me. I know I can attribute this to them being teenagers and Archie clearly has a lot of growing up to do, but I still found it so irritating.

Veronica also annoyed me at times. Sometimes I just felt like she had horrible tunnel vision and wasn’t really thinking how her actions could affect those around her. (Again, perhaps it’s just her age showing.) Or maybe she just didn’t care because getting answers was more important to her. Either way, it got irritating.

Overall, I say definitely give Riverdale a try if you’re into mysteries/thrillers and are ok with following characters of the teen demographic. The show definitely gets dark at times but also has a lightness within some of the characters. I will be tuning in to see season 2. I didn’t give it a full 5 because I felt like the characters were very immature at times. Still, please check this one out. It didn’t disappoint.

Rating: 4
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Links: You can watch it on Netflix | Check out Archie Comics | See news about Season 2

Thoughts on: Girl Boss

I finished Girl Boss the other day and immediately knew I had to put my two cents in. I started this shgirlboss.jpegow on a whim as I procrastinated for finals. I had no idea it was based on a book or even that it was a “true” account of Sophia Amoruso’s life (until about the second episode when I Googled. What can I say…I am not up to date sometimes.) I binged the entire series pretty quickly. I have a lot of mixed feelings.

What I liked: The thing I liked most about this TV series without a doubt was the music. Almost every episode I had my Shazam app out trying to find out the titles of the songs. A few of my favorites were Float On (cover) by Gwen Harris, I’ll Come Crashing by A Giant Dog, and Gold Lion by Yeah Yeah Yeahs. If nothing else, I recommend watching the series because there are some killer jams.

I also loved the fashion in the show. I mean, duh, because it’s kind of the point but still worth mentioning. The thrifty pieces and ensembles Sophia creates are quite inspiring.

Sophia’s rag to riches story was also something I enjoyed. It was inspiring to see a twenty something had literately no idea what she is doing come into herself. In many ways, I found myself relating to Sophia as a “regular girl.” She’s the girl with a shitty car, eating leftover pizza from last week, and digging through the couch cushions for spare change. Haven’t we all been there? (No? Just me? Ok.)

It was an “easy” show to watch that had great binge-ability. Let me explain in case that made no sense. The show is about a twenty-something trying to navigate her way through starting a business and ultimately a career. This isn’t Game of Thrones or Grey’s Anatomy. You can successfully binge watch all thirteen episodes without being bogged down but the sheer emotional weight of the season, because to be honest, while there are emotional moments, this season isn’t going to get you deep in your feels like other shows might. I guess this could actually be a part of what I didn’t like as well. It depends on what kinda show you’re in the mood for, I suppose.

What I didn’t like: The characters felt so childish and immature after awhile. Perhaps it’s because I binge watched it that I found myself getting so fed up but after a few episodes I wanted to shake some of them. (No spoilers, I swear!) The way Sophia treated others after awhile just made me mad. She acts incredibly selfish at times and it annoyed me. I mean, I understand being twenty something is still relatively young, but Sophia is adult enough to be a little more grown up. Some of her theft and just in general petty behavior got to be too much after awhile (see Sophia ep 1, her behavior at her job was so disrespectful I couldn’t handle it.) While she did have growth throughout the season, her personality still carried through and it got annoying.

The secondary characters were also annoying at times or just kind of boring. There was no one in this season where I thought “oh my god they are hilarious” or “what an amazing character.” Everyone felt like someone you had seen before or a caricature of a person you’d met in real life.

Some of the writing was a bit bothersome. Some of the situations were just so unrealistic and to be honest, felt cliche and unoriginal. There weren’t a lot of totally refreshing moments in the season. It kind of felt like something someone wrote who wasn’t a millennial, trying to depict how millennials actually feel/think. It feels like the almost complete cliched version you can think of about millennials (the “me me me” generation as we are sometimes referred). The writing didn’t blow me away.

Overall, I would say try GirlBoss if you’re in the mood for some “girl power” or are looking for a relatively light hearted show with some kickass music and fashion. But, if you’re looking for a more original series with depth, I’d say skip this one (if it gets renewed for a second season, I probably will).

Rating: 2/5
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Links: You can watch it on Netflix | Check out the book #GirlBoss|Connect with Sophia Amoruso on Twitter

Book Review: Station Eleven

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Author:
Emily St. John Mandel

Genre: Science Fiction/ Post-Apocalyptic fiction

Published: September 2014

Series: Standalone

Description: Kirsten Raymonde will never forget the night Arthur Leander, the famous Hollywood actor, had a heart attack on stage during a production of King Lear. That was the night when a devastating flu pandemic arrived in the city, and within weeks, civilization as we know it came to an end.

Twenty years later, Kirsten moves between the settlements of the altered world with a small troupe of actors and musicians. They call themselves The Traveling Symphony, and they have dedicated themselves to keeping the remnants of art and humanity alive. But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who will threaten the tiny band’s existence. And as the story takes off, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, the strange twist of fate that connects them all will be revealed.

Overall thoughts: I went into Station Eleven knowing nothing about it. I had never heard of the book or the author before and I received the book as a birthday gift. I read the back synopsis and was anticipating a typical “dystopian” book. What I found was so much more.

The novel is post-apocalyptic so in that sense it fits the “dystopian” genre. A flu pandemic has ravaged the world as we know it and life looks much, much different for Kirsten and The Traveling Symphony (and everyone else.) However, it’s the way that the author describes this post-apocalyptic life that felt refreshing and eerie at the same time. There were sections in the novel that force the reader to introspectively look at their lives. Imagine a world where children are born into a life and have never known electricity, running water, airplanes, e-mail, or refrigerators. A world were there are no doctors, firemen, policemen. No government. No books, newspapers, authors, painters, musicals, movies. (You get the point.) While this is scary, Mandel takes it a step further. Now imagine you’ve known all of it and it gets ripped away from you. You constantly yearn for normalcy, to “go home” yet home no longer exists and never will.

This isn’t your normal dystopian novel. There isn’t an uprising against a corrupt government. There is no “cure” for the Georgia flu. No one sweeps in to save the day.

What you do have though is an amazingly well-written science fiction/dystopian fiction novel. The characters are complex and flawed. Their stories are sad and heavy, while also being light and hopeful. There is a connection between almost everyone and the interwoven relationships are an amazing tether as the book is written in both past and present and focus on different characters.

My favorite aspect of this book is the actual “Station Eleven” within the novel and how it plays out for so many characters and connects them together. Can’t say much more without spoiling it, just trust me on this one.

This book definitely doesn’t spell everything out to the reader, which I praise it for. There are aspects of the novel’s plot and the characters that the reader must interpret and figure out for themselves. Mandel does it in a beautiful way that puts the building blocks in place, but doesn’t over-explain anything. It’s just great.

Overall, if you’re looking for a great post-apocalyptic novel, check out Station Eleven. 

Rating: 4/5
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*(The only reason it isn’t a full 5/5 is because I just wanted more about the Georgia flu. I felt like it was never really explained what it was or what happened. I fully understand this explanation was not necessary for the plot and it wasn’t what the novel was about. However, you know what they say, curiosity killed the cat. I just felt like I was so intrigued, I wanted more. I understand the characters didn’t really have the answers, but I just felt like this piece was just missing a little for me. Still can’t recommend this book enough though!!)

Links: Find it on Amazon | Author Website|
Nathan Burton, illustrator of featured comic

Book Review: The Hating Game

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Author:
Sally Thorne

Genre: Contemporary Romance / New Adult

Published: August 9, 2016

Series: Standalone

Description: Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.

Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

Overall thoughts: I really enjoyed The Hating Game. I tried to read it a few months ago but couldn’t get past the first few pages. The beginning was a lot of background information and I was more interested in other books at the time so I put it down. But I am so, beyond happy that I picked it back up because I loved it. The Hating Game has easily become one of my favorite contemporary novels of all time. (And snaps to Sally Thorne because it’s her debut novel!!!!)

Although, The Hating Game clearly plays into the enemies-to-lovers trope, it doesn’t feel cliche. At all. They “hate” each other but it feels real. I didn’t think the “hate” was irrational and annoying like in similar books that I’ve read. Their banter and communication made the dislike feel natural and understandable to the reader. Plus, who didn’t love the hilarious banter?

Actually, probably the best aspect (in my opinion) about this book is the humor. It was full of witty banter that made me easily fall in love with both the main characters. The dialogue was just so fun to read. This is a book that will definitely make you laugh out loud and has amazing one liners and quotes.

Lucy is an amazing main character. She feels real and I really related with her anxiety and “freaking out” that she deals with throughout the book. I loved how she was driven, ambitious, and confident. However, she was also insecure, lonely, and anxious. She felt like a fully developed character — like someone you truly could meet in real life. Not to mention Lucy’s clothes and smurf collection were just great to read. She was kinda nerdy but in the best way.

Of course, Josh was a great, complex character as well. I loved learning about him as Lucy did, layer by layer. He was flawed but that made me like him more. He was a great balance to Lucy and easily become one of my top #bookboyfriends.

If you’re considering purchasing The Hating Game or are in the market for a great contemporary read… what are you waiting for?! You won’t regret it. It’s a book filled with complex characters, witty banter, and a few plot twists along the way.

Rating: 5/5
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Links: Find it on Amazon || Author Facebook Page ||
Look out for Sally Thorne’s new novel, The Comfort Zone