A Battle To Save The Entire Universe and Themselves: a Review of Defy the Worlds by Claudia Gray

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Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Publication date: March 28th, 2018
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 394

Series: Constellation #2

Review of Constellation #1: Defy the Stars

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Blurb:

Noemi Vidal has returned to her planet, Genesis, as an outsider – ostracised for refusing to end the Liberty War by sacrificing Abel, the most advanced mechanical man ever made. She dreams of travelling through the stars again, and when a deadly plague arrives on Genesis, Noemi gets her chance. The only soldier to have ever left her planet, it will be up to her to save its people. If only she wasn’t flying right into a trap.

Abel, now fully aware of his soul and captaining his own Vagabond ship, never dreamed he’d see Noemi again, not when the entire universe stands between them. But when his creator Burton Mansfield delivers news of Noemi’s entrapment, Abel knows he must save her, even if it means risking his own life.

Danger lurks in the dark corners of the galaxy, and Abel and Noemi will discover a secret that could save Genesis and Earth… or destroy them all.

In this thrilling and romantic sequel to Defy the Stars, bestselling author Claudia Gray asks us all to consider what drives us, and where we truly belong.

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Warning: Spoiler alert if you haven’t read the first book.

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Another brilliant installation in the Constellation series by CLAUDIA GRAY. I absolutely loved the first book Defy the Stars and was looking forward to Defy the Worlds.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve gone my whole life just waiting for someone to see me. And you do, Abel. You might be the only person who ever has.

Defy the Worlds picked up where we last saw Noemi: back in Genesis after leaving Abel. She’s starting fresh as a military soldier of Genesis while still missing the artificial intelligence with a conscious who saved her life. And now she’s on a mission to save her planet from a biological virus.

The plot, as before, is as amazing as ever. From the first page we’re drawn into the external and internal battle Noemi fights in saving the people she loves. Defy the Worlds is action packed, full of twists and endless fights between various parties in the book. I am again reminded why I love this series so much: Abel and Noemi both have complex characterizations and a past that makes them so unique form the other characters. Readers will again witness why these two work so well together, and why we need more strong characters that question our beliefs as we know it.

Readers will also be transported back to the brilliant science fictional world that GRAY created. But there’ll be a new twist to the entire plot that questions just how noble a human can claim his work to be, if it involves hurting so many other people. We’re introduced to a bigger universe and the possibility of mechs being a more permanent fixture in our lives.

Defy the Stars focused heavily on Noemi and Abel’s personal journeys but Defy the Worlds focused more on the their home planets and the future of mankind. I wished there was more romance action between Noemi and Abel, but what makes this series actually works is its lack in romance. You can expect some minor love action between these two and a whole load of fighting and flying instead. Which is a pretty sweet deal if you ask me.

I don’t know what comes after this, if anything even can. All I know is you’re the only person I can’t imagine living my whole life without.

If you’re looking for a serious YA Sci-fi series, give the Constellation series a try. I definitely enjoyed reading both books, despite the heart-wrenching cliffhanger at the end. Book 3 will hopefully be published next year so I won’t have to suffer for long. I would advice readers to read the first book and continue with Defy the Worlds because there are a lot of repeated characters and events happening in the sequel. Since it’s been a year since I last read Defy the Stars, I struggled with remember all the minute but important details.

Perfect for fans of YA and science fiction, Defy the Worlds will bring a good amount of action and sentimental scenes that makes you love and empathize with the characters, believe in justice for the planets and imagine a future world where AI truly live among us.

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Thank you Pansing Books for providing a copy in exchange of an honest review.

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Embark on a Journey to the Land of Gods, Serpents and Frost Giants: a Review of Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

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Genre:
Fantasy, Short Stories
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication date: February 7th, 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 283

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Blurb:

The great Norse myths, which have inspired so much of modern fiction, are dazzlingly retold by Neil Gaiman. Tales of dwarfs and frost giants, of treasure and magic, and of Asgard, home to the gods: Odin the all-father, highest and oldest of the Aesir; his mighty son Thor, whose hammer Mjollnir makes the mountain giants tremble; Loki, wily and handsome, reliably unreliable in his lusts; and Freya, more beautiful than the sun or the moon, who spurns those who seek to control her.

From the dawn of the world to the twilight of the gods, this is a thrilling, vivid retelling of the Norse myths from the award-winning, bestselling Neil Gaiman.

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“Because,” said Thor, “when something goes wrong, the first thing I always think is, it is Loki’s fault. It saves a lot of time.”

I’ve always been a fan of Neil Gaiman and his gothic storytelling style. He writes fiction so well, but unfortunately Fragile Things was my least favourite book by him, that happens to be a short story collection. Norse Mythology is a compilation of short stories depicting one of the most famous mythologies that inspired endless movies, comics and other works of fiction.

Despite my hesitation with short stories, Norse Mythology is a fun read and one I would recommend to anyone interested to learn more about these Germanic-origin mythologies. We get a great outlook into the original stories and characters. We’re also introduced to many more characters other than Thor and Loki. There are plenty of giants, gods and goddesses, dwarfs and mythical creatures to keep you engrossed in Norse Mythology.

Norse Mythology depicts the pagan culture practiced in Western Europe before Christianity descended. And while there wasn’t much explanation to how these myths influenced every day life, some stories will give you a glimpse. Norse Mythology is my first introduction to any sort of mythology, I didn’t even read Percy Jackson! So I was blown away by the imagination of these people in creating these myths. Each god and goddess had their own roles and each mythical creature has an influence in the history of myths. I was entertained  by it all, to say the least.

There are stories of how gods lived among each other and oversee human life, how they fought giants and killed mercilessly anyone who threatens their kingdom and how the strength of giants are so powerful they can fight the gods themselves. There are stories with triumphant endings and there are many more filled with deaths. Myths are prone for grotesque endings with endless amount or murder and torture, and Norse Mythology gave an unfiltered look into that.

My personal favourite stories are any one that has Thor and Loki in them. Thanks to the Marvel comics, Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth are forever etched in my mind as Loki and Thor. Their banter and endless squabbles are aplenty in this book. Imagining the two actors as these two characters made the experience of reading their characters in Norse Mythology much more hilarious and enjoyable.

Overall, a recommended read by me. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Perfect for fans of any myths, Norse Mythology will bring you into a whole new world with new characters accompanied by brilliant storytelling style. Discover more attention-grabbing stories with Norse Mythology that will make you enjoy this book with every turning page.

 

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Thank you Pansing Books for providing a copy in exchange of an honest review.

Warm Summer Nights on the Road: a Review of Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

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Genre:
Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication date: April 15th, 2014
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 368

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Blurb:

After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts.

But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence.

This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.

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Warning: Minor spoilers included in this review

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Open Road Summer is a light fluffy read meant to be read literally during summer. Or taken with you on vacation. It’s a very short book that focuses on both friendship and romance, and leaning more towards romance by the end of the book.

I’ve loved EMERY LORD’s writing, and The Start of Me and You is one of my favourite YA contemporaries ever. But Open Road Summer fell pretty short for me. I’m glad Emery Lord has improved in terms of character development from her first YA novel because the MC in Open Road Summer is frustratingly annoying.

Reagan is the typical angsty seventeen-year-old that has had a very hard upbringing living with a single parent and now she’s joining her best friend’s concert tour to forget her rebellious past. Just from that sentence alone, you get an inkling of how cliche Reagen is as a YA MC and that her best friend sounds exactly like Hannah Montana, minus the double life.

Everything about Open Road Summer is pretty cliche. Summer starts out with two best friends making a pact to have the best summer ever, only for a cute guy to enter the scene and steal the show. You don’t need spoilers to know what happens at the end of Open Road Summer.

And I didn’t really enjoy reading the budding romance because it felt pretty unrealistic for a guy to go through so much length to be with a girl as bitchy and snappy as Reagan. But, I guess the heart wants what it wants.

But for what it’s worth, I did finish Open Road Summer and that says something unique about this book. I still loved Emery Lord’s writing in this: fast-paced and Open Road Summer makes for a quick entertaining vacay read. The best friend, Lilah is super likeable so that was a pleasure to read about her. Although it literally felt like a Disney plot, Open Road Summer does bring some plus points about friendship and new beginnings. I just wish those new beginning doesn’t necessarily require a cute guy with cheesy song lyrics in the picture.

Overall, I think Open Road Summer is still worth a read if you want something light and breezy, and if you don’t mind the slightly annoying MC! I hope you enjoy it more than I did!

“Laughter feels like our flotation device — it won’t pull us out of the storm, but it might carry us through, if we can just hang on.”

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Thank you Pansing Books for providing a copy in exchange of an honest review.

Bringing the Hurricane Within: a Review of Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley

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Genre:
General Fiction
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: June 7th, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal
Page Count: 307

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Blurb:

Combining the emotional depth of The Art of Racing in the Rain with the magical spirit of The Life of Pi, Lily and the Octopus is an epic adventure of the heart.

When you sit down with Lily and the Octopus, you will be taken on an unforgettable ride.

The magic of this novel is in the read, and we don’t want to spoil it by giving away too many details. We can tell you that this is a story about that special someone: the one you trust, the one you can’t live without.

For Ted Flask, that someone special is his aging companion Lily, who happens to be a dog. Lily and the Octopus reminds us how it feels to love fiercely, how difficult it can be to let go, and how the fight for those we love is the greatest fight of all.

Remember the last book you told someone they had to read? Lily and the Octopus is the next one.

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I absolutely adored this book. It brought me to tears multiple times. And I’m such a sucker for novels with animals in them. Throw in an unbreakable bond between a human and his pet, and I’m sold.

“A heart is judged not by how much you loved, but by how much you are loved by others”

That is what Lily and the Octopus is about. The beautiful bond that a man can share with his dog. This amazing book reminded me of all the previous cats that I have loved growing up and how each cat I cared for impacted me in some small way.

Lily and the Octopus is the story of a 42-year-old guy named Ted and his beautiful relationship with his 12-year-old dachshund dog named Lily. As the story progresses, Ted realises something that’s affecting Lily’s health and and the way he copes with the possibility of losing Lily sets the foundation of this book. I can’t write more about it because it’ll be spoilery in a way. But there is something truly special about this book.

Lily and the Octopus is such a easy read. With short chapters and a simple plot, you’ll find yourself easily absorbed into the book. I loved the flashbacks laid out as you read the story, giving you glimpses of how Ted loved Lily with all his heart and how she made his life better. The lives they lived together is bound to break your heart, for there is no purer relationship than a man and his pet.

Lily and the Octopus is such an emotional book. I can’t really describe it any other way. With every page turned, we witness the love between Ted and Lily and can’t help but to root for their ending to be a happy one. We feel the pain Ted feels throughout the book, and we feel the joy of Lily that naturally comes with being a dog. Lily and the Octopus is bound to tug your heartstrings, and the more reasons to love this book.

“After a pause Lily looks up at me. “Sometimes I think of you as Dad.”
My heart rises in my throat. That’s the only term of endearment I need.”

I would definitely recommend Lily and the Octopus to anyone looking for a deep emotional read about the beautiful unbreakable bond a human has with his animal companion. Anyone who’s taken care of a pet knows the joys and sorrows that come with it. And no doubt Lily and the Octopus will remind you why we keep loving the ones who love us unconditionally in spite of all our imperfections.

“I think of how dogs are witnesses. How they are present for our most private moments, how they are there when we think of ourselves as alone. They witness our quarrels, our tears, our struggles, our fears, and all of our secret behaviors that we have to hide from our fellow humans. They witness without judgment.”

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Return to the Night Court on the Longest Night of the Year: a Review of The Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas

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Genre:
Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication date: May 1st, 2018
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 229

Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #3.1

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Blurb:

Hope warms the coldest night.

Feyre, Rhys, and their close-knit circle of friends are still busy rebuilding the Night Court and the vastly-changed world beyond. But Winter Solstice is finally near, and with it, a hard-earned reprieve.

Yet even the festive atmosphere can’t keep the shadows of the past from looming. As Feyre navigates her first Winter Solstice as High Lady, she finds that those dearest to her have more wounds than she anticipated–scars that will have far-reaching impact on the future of their Court.

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“To the blessed darkness from which we are born, and to which we return.”

 

It’s always nice to return to the Night Court and revisit the Inner Circle and see how things have been while we wait for the fourth book in the Court of Thorns and Roses series. A Court of Frost and Starlight is a novella meant to complement the series and not really add anything to the existing series plot. A Court of Frost and Starlight simply allows us to glimpse into the everyday lives of our favourite characters and how they’ve been faring since the last book ended.

Everyone is healing in their own way, but we still catch a lot of humour and good natured jokes sprinkled within the book. A Court of Frost and Starlight focuses on the longest night of the year, Solstice, and the celebrations surrounding it. The customs Velaris hold as traditions among the rebuilding efforts post-war.

I loved returning back to Velaris and reading about the dynamics between the group. I’ve grown to love Elain and Azriel’s personalities, but wished we got to read more from their point of views. Feyre’s POV still remains as the main one in A Court of Frost and Starlight. There’s nothing truly spectacular that happened in A Court of Frost and Starlight except a few given Easter Eggs, but it does act as a sufficient filler book while we wait for the next book in the series. I’m pretty excited to see what happens next in the ACOTAR series.

That said, if you’d like to pick it up, do enjoy A Court of Frost and Starlight simply for the company and the immense love Feyre and Ryhsand has for each other and their family. That much is heart-warming in A Court of Frost and Starlight. Enjoy it for the sake of returning to the world we all have known to love and the amazing characters it behold.

And as it goes with all of SJM’s books, be prepared for the steamy sex scenes!

“And in the end, though, we’d saved each other. All of us had.”

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Thank you Pansing Books for providing a copy in exchange of an honest review.

DON’T PANIC: a Review of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

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Genre:
Science Fiction
Publisher: (Multiple)
Publication date: October 12th, 1979
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal
Page Count: 240

Series: #1 Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

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Blurb:

Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.

Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”) and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox–the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years.

 

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“Don’t Panic”

I don’t think I could pass off as a respectable scifi fan until I read one of the greatest scifi books of all time. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is Douglas Adams’ most famous work of writing spanning over 5 books in the series.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is pretty short, and with just 240 pages, it’s perfect for a quick vacation/summer read. I enjoyed every page of the book. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is filled with cringe-worthy dry British humour and endless scifi tidbits about space travel, which adds to the appeal.

“Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.”

 

As you read more of Arthur Dent’s voyage through the galaxy with his non-human friend, Ford Prefect with the famous book called The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, you’ll find yourself laughing at their encounters with the terrible Vogans, the deceptive two-headed Zaphod Beeblebrox, and mice in space.

The plot in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is very well-written. Right off the first page, Earth is on its way to being blown to bits and we find Arthur in the midst of a very important task of protecting his house from being demolished…which eventually becomes beside the point. You can literally expect something new happening with each turn of the page. And no doubt you will enjoy the amazing cast of characters sprinkled throughout the book. Every character with its eccentric personalities, even the pet mice, brings something distinguishable to the book.

I would highly recommend The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy to anyone who wants to give scifi a try and wouldn’t know which book to start first. It’s short enough to give you a sense of feel of what great classic scifi is and its action packed enough to keep you entertained throughout the book.

And if you’re still not convinced, here’s a snippet of the book that will hopefully change your mind:

“A towel, [The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy] says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-boggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.”

Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

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Self Love is The Biggest Commitment You’ll Ever Make: a Review of Heart Talk by Cleo Wade

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Genre:
Self-Help, Poetry
Publisher: Atria
Publication date: March 6th, 2018
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal
Page Count: 224

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Blurb:

A beautifully illustrated book from Cleo Wade—the artist, poet, and speaker who has been called “the Millennial Oprah” by New York Magazine—that offers creative inspiration and life lessons through poetry, mantras, and affirmations, perfect for fans of the bestseller Milk & Honey.

True to her hugely popular Instagram account, Cleo Wade brings her moving life lessons to Heart Talk, an inspiring, accessible, and spiritual book of wisdom for the new generation. Featuring over one hundred and twenty of Cleo’s original poems, mantras, and affirmations, including fan favorites and never before seen ones, this book is a daily pep talk to keep you feeling empowered and motivated.

With relatable, practical, and digestible advice, including “Hearts break. That’s how the magic gets in,” and “Baby, you are the strongest flower that ever grew, remember that when the weather changes,” this is a portable, replenishing pause for your daily life.

Keep Heart Talk by your bedside table or in your bag for an empowering boost of spiritual adrenaline that can help you discover and unlock what is blocking you from thriving emotionally and spiritually.

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Here’s a confession: I don’t know how to review this insanely beautiful book.

I bought Heart Talk because I’ve heard of how uplifting and positively beautiful this book is.

AND I WHOLEHEARTEDLY AGREE.

Never have I ever read a book so positively brilliant like Heart Talk that makes you love yourself more. CLEO WADE is a brilliant writer and everything she writes resonates within me. Reading Heart Talk was an ethereal reminder of all the things I’ve come to know and appreciate in relation to self-love.

And I love how reading this book was such a personally enlightening experience.

“The best thing about your life is that it is constantly in a state of design”

I found Heart Talk truly relatable as I’ve been on this journey of self-love and “self-repair” for the past three years. Not many people know this but I had a very rough start to my 20’s. College was a nerve-wrecking experience for an introverted, awkward people-pleaser like me who constantly experienced depression and social anxiety when thrown into large groups. I don’t think I can ever articulate well the pain of loneliness I went through in my early 20’s and the destructive consequences I had to bear because of it. When I had the courage to finally leave the negative environment/friendships and the relationships that were wrongly-suited for me, I found myself completely on my own for the first time in my 20’s with the exception of 1-2 friends that gratefully stayed around. Fresh out of college and with the excitement of starting a new career on the horizon, a figuratively blank canvas was spread out ahead of me to start life over.

And I had the chance to ask myself:

“What can I do now that I’m not pulled back by someone else or by a love that didn’t allow me to grow as a person? What can I do to be truly happy and a good human being now that I get a second chance to start over?”

3 years ago, I was intimidated and scared for the future, but I knew an opportunity when I saw one. When you decide that you’re gonna be okay on your own and that the stereotypical life script society desperately wants you to follow is not the story you want for yourself, you start being happy with your life and the choices you make. You stop defending yourself to other people when you do something out of the norm. You stop feeling resentful to yourself and other people when your life isn’t going the same way as others. You start questioning the type of life, partner and career you want. And you become wiser in choosing friendships that help you grow instead of break you down. You also stop looking for love in the wrong places, and focus on being a good human being in general. Because love will come when it’s ready to influence and grow us.

And in return to all the self-love you grant yourself, you develop this sense of courage and strength you never knew you had.

“The way you love yourself sets the example for how everyone else will love you”

Heart Talk is very real, in my opinion. I wouldn’t say it changed my life, but Heart Talk reaffirmed every single thing I’ve learned about self-care in the past 3 years. It is the book you want whenever you need a small reminder that you’re deserving of love. Heart Talk reminds you of all the reasons why you are amazing, worthwhile and validated for every emotion you have ever felt.

I highly recommend Heart Talk to anyone looking for motivation to love yourself and realise your full potential to be the happiest in life that you can be. It might sound cheesy, but you are the biggest commitment you will ever have in your life. Why not treat it with more respect?

Perfect for readers looking for endless inspiration to improve your outlook on loving yourself and being a better person in general, Heart Talk is full of wisdom and love for just that.

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