Ice Kissed (The Kanin Chronicles #2) by Amanda Hocking

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Title: Ice Kissed
Author: Amanda Hocking
Series: The Kanin Chronicles #2
Edition: Digital ARC, 288 pages
Publication Details: May 5th 2015 by St. Martin’s Press
Genre(s): YA; Fantasy
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Purchase

Bryn Aven has always longed to be a part of the Kanin world. Though she has no social status because she’s a half-breed, she refuses to give up on her dream of serving the kingdom she loves. It’s a dream that brings her to a whole new realm . . . the glittering palace of the Skojare.

The Skojare people need protection from the same brutal rival who’s been threatening the Kanin, and, being half Skojare herself, it’s a chance for Bryn to learn more about her heritage. Her boss Ridley Dresden is overseeing her mission and wants to help. He’s always been her most trusted friend—but as their undeniable attraction heats up, he becomes a distraction she can’t afford.

Brynn is about to discover that the Skojare world is full of secrets, and as she’s drawn in deeper and deeper, she doesn’t know who to trust. As she gets closer to Ridley, she realizes she may not even be able to trust her own heart.

Review

Oh, this series! I seem to have developed a love/hate relationship with it. For context, you may wish to check my review of the first book, Frostfire here, because I feel a slightly muddled rant coming on.

Bryn Aven, is still on the path to accomplishing her dream of being on the hogdragen, in order to guard Kanin royalty and serve her kingdom. Ice Kissed picks up right where Frostfire left off. The status of her and her boss’ frowned-upon relationship is still in will-they-won’t-they mode, and peple are still being kidnapped.

This time however, it’s less of a kidnapping and more of a running away, as Princess Linnea has fled her palace to the magical lake Isolera where time moves differently and swimming feels like a dream. Linnea ran because she felt a growing sense of unease and tension, and she didn’t feel safe. And now it’s up to Bryn and her fellow trackers to find out what’s going on.

Sigh. There is a lot I didn’t like about this book, and they’re many of the same gripes from the first book. First of all, the story didn’t move fast enough – in fact – sometimes it felt like the story didn’t move at all.

Not enough happened. Actually, that’s not true, lots of insignificant things happened, but too few significant things did. And even when something important did happen, it didn’t seem to get resolved or have an ending. Arggggh.

But!!!! At no point did I want to stop reading. I wanted to know if Bryn and Ridley would give it a go. I wanted to know what the hell was going on with Princess Linnea and the all the weird shit going on in their palace, and more to the point, I wanted to know when Konstantin Black was going to turn up! I mean, seriously!??

I have the feeling that either this is going to be a slow-burning series with one hell of a culmination, or Hocking is just trying to squeeze out too many books for the scope of the plot.

Another thing that bothered me was the sex. Yes – SPOILER – there was sex, and that’s fine by me, usually. But here it seemed out of place. It was a bit more graphic than in other YA books, and… IDK…I found it odd. The tone was off.

I sort of wish I didn’t read the last page or so, because before that I definitely wouldn’t have felt the need to read the next book, but if Hocking does one thing successfully, it’s a goddamn cliffhanger. Argh!

I’m going to have to find out what happens next. I just hope it’s got a faster, better plot!

unicorn rating 3

[2.5 rounded-up!]

Ice Kissed is available for pre-order from Waterstones now.

The Frenchman by Lesley Young

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Title: The Frenchman
Author: Lesley Young
Series: Crime Royalty Romance #1
Edition: Digital Reader’s Copy, 276 Pages
Publication Details: January 2015 by L.A.Y. Books
Genre(s): Romance
Disclosure? Yep! I received a copy from the author/publisher in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Amazon

Fleur Smithers rarely veers off the straight and (excruciatingly) narrow. So moving to the seaport town of Toulon to live with her newfound biological mother—an inspector with the French National Police—for one year is a pretty major detour.

Son of France’s crime royalty family and international rugby star, Louis Messette, is devoted to his sport, famille and nothing else. But the carefree American he meets one night changes everything. She sparks a desire in him like no other. Possession takes root. She will do as he commands?

Bit by bit Fleur slips into the Frenchman’s realm of wanton pleasure agreeing to his one condition: that she keep their affair secret. She serves up her heart without reservation in the hub of the glittering Côte d’Azur, and the along the soulful Seine in Paris, unaware of the danger she is in. For her new lover’s family business will pit her against her mother, the police woman sworn to bring down the Messettes. And by then, far more than Fleur’s heart will be on the line.

Review


To be perfectly honest, I didn’t think much of the synopsis or cover of this book, but I was in the mood for a quick, light read so I thought I’d give it a go, and I’m really glad I did!

The Frenchman is a page-turning romance (bordering on erotica), set in Toulon, France where innocent and naive Fleur Smithers is spending a year getting to know her police-officer birth-mum.

The relationship between the two is interesting. They are very different, but despite the past they get along and understand each other. Marie, Fleur’s mum, along with her friend Jess encourage her to enjoy everything France has to offer, including the men, and one night in a tiny restaurant, she does just that.

She meets Louis, an aloof, brute of a man who also happens to be a famous Rugby player. From here, Fleur not only finds herself in an intense, whirlwind of passion, but she’s also gotten herself into something deeper. Is Louis really who he says he is? Is her mother right to warn her against him and his family?

The Frenchman really surprised me. I was kind of expecting it to be sex, sex, sex, but I really enjoyed the story too, especially the crime element. It had a lot more strings to its bow than a lot of romance books I’ve read.

Louis is everything you could want in a leading man, too. Essentially, he’s a bad-boy with a heart, or so we hope as we read on. And he’s clearly pretty damn hot! I enjoyed the dynamic between the two characters, and how Fleur stood up to him on occasion. And although they get together pretty quickly, this definitely wasn’t an instalove thing – there was more going on than that, which is always what keeps me interested in a story – it was a rollercoaster of a romance.

Overall, I was really impressed by The Frenchman. It’s not the kind of thing I read often but I’d definitely like to continue with the series. Watch out E.L James!

unicorn rating 4

Anyone Can Betray Anyone: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

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Title: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen Trilogy #1
Edition: Digital ARC, 320 pages
Publication Details: February 10th 2015 by Orion / Feb 12th 2015 (paperback)
Genre(s): YA, Dystopia; Fantasy
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Purchase


The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change. Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

Review

OMG THIS BOOK!

I’d gone through a whole array of feelings about this book before I even picked it up. Firstly, from the cover alone I was so taken with it I couldn’t wait to read it. Then I started seeing it described as The Hunger Games meets The Selection via X-men, and my mind was blown. BLOWN.

But then, the hype just went a bit mad. It was all over the blogosphere and while I tired to avoid most of the reviews, I started to doubt my first thoughts and wondered if this was just another Hunger Games wannabe; all hype and no substance….

Thankfully, I was wrong. Red Queen, whilst having some flaws, ended up completely surpassing my expectations. And it made me want to throw it across the room (yet another downside to the e-book!), in the best possible way.

In Victoria Aveyard’s take on a dystopian future, there are two classes. The Redbloods, the lowly commoners who do all the physical and menial jobs, and are conscripted to fight in the war, and the Silverbloods, the ruling class, who all have different powers such as the ability to manipulate fire, water or metal – much like the X-MEN (which I LOVE).

I really loved this world. When you break it down it isn’t anything new, but the combination of ideas from other worlds made it original in its own way. It was a little bit Noughts & Crosses (Malorie Blackman) as well as being understandably likened to The Selection and THG.

Mare isn’t talented, unless you count stealing. She doesn’t have a skill like her sister does so she’s destined for a future in the army, just like her brothers and her best friend Kilorn. She hates the Silverbloods as much as anyone for taking them away. But one night she tries to steal from the wrong person – a handsome cloaked stranger – who listens to her story and can offer her a better life.

The stranger… is Cal, the prince and heir to the throne, and Mare finds herself with a job at the palace. But this isn’t any ordinary palace. It just so happens that Mare has arrived in time for the Queenstrial, where silver nobles will fight it out (with their powers) in the arena, for the princes hands in marriage (oh yes, there’s two of them to swoon over!).

Without giving away any massive spoilers all I’ll say is that somehow, Mare finds herself engaged to a prince, disguised with silver dust and the constant threat of execution hanging over her head.

INTENSE!

I seriously couldn’t put this down. The action was good, the whole on-off love/hate romance thing was pretty hot and man, it was just so good. HOWEVER, there were so many things that didn’t make sense. A few of them did by the end, but there were some definite annoying plot holes.

For example, there wasn’t really any need for the noble Silverbloods to train in the arena every day. They use the Reds to fight on the front line, so why do they need to train, and compete against each other so much? I felt like this was just an easy way to get more action into the plot and be a bit more Hunger Games-esque. It was a bit gratuitous.

Also, they change Mare’s identity (making her a Silver Noble) and swear her to a life of secrecy, but it’s not like no one will notice her – she is filmed on a few occasions – which is shown in the Red villages… and they make her fight in the arena, where blood is often spilled, so how do they expect her to not be exposed? ARGH!

Another huge thing which got my goat is that the Queen(the big baddy)’s power is mind manipulation. She can get into your mind and see all of your memories and thoughts, not to mention make you do anything she wants, and yet Mare and others are planning a rebellion under her very nose – errrr how!!!?

And while we’re talking about war and rebellion, I don’t think we’re ever even told why the war began. Something was mentioned about the Lowlanders being the ones they’re fighting against but that’s about it. Maybe this will be explored more in the next book, who knows.

But anyway, I need to breathe.

All of these things added to my enjoyment of the book, because y’know PURE GOLD in ranting material. I was really tempted to give this ALL THE UNICORNS, but the only reason I didn’t is because I predicted a major twist from quite early on. I need to stop thinking so much!

unicorn rating 4

Red Queen is available to preorder from Waterstones now, and the paperback is due to be released Feb 12th.

Top Ten Tuesday: YA Books for YABC

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the link to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

The topic for this week is: Ten Books I’d Love to Read With My Book Club/If I Had A Book Club (or you could pick a specific kind of book club — like if you had a YA book club or an adult book club or a science fiction book club etc.)

My friend Di and I have an unofficial YA book club (YABC) where we meet up, drink wine, exchange books and rant/swoon over them. It’s pretty awesome. Therefore, I am choosing the books that have been the most successful YABC topics in the past.

Oh the rants we’ve had…

(Links go to related posts)

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1. The Hunger Games: Well, durrr. There was a period of time where myself and Di were banned from talking about THG in public because we just couldn’t stop, and it always ended in the same very heated (but y’know, friendly..) argument.

Mainly because it turns out that Di likes NICE BOYS like Peeta and is therefore WRONG ABOUT EVERYTHING. I mean really, Peeta over Gale…?? SERIOUSLY. Other topics included why I hated the first movie (because I’m right) and why Di didn’t (because she’s wrong).

2. Vampire Academy: Oh, we are not even close to be being done with VA YABCs! But the series so far (we are up to book 3 I believe), has already provided us with so much good ranting material.

There’s been the obvious Dimitri-in-my-pants rants and girl crushing all over Rose Hathaway and her complete awesomeness. And then there’s the hilarity that ensued when we realised we couldn’t pronounce any of the vampire species so anyone listening in to our convo in the bar at Waterloo station probably thought we were having a stroke.

And lastly, there’s the fact that it’s impossible to discuss VA without comparing it to our favourite topic ever – Buffy!! So good!

3. Twilight: Possibly the first ever YABC-type rant in the history of Di and Lipsy book rants.

Topics mainly revolved around how ridiculous it is but quickly descends into how much we want to have sex with control freak Cullen, and ultimately how much we COULDN’T STOP READING. There has also been a lot of discussion over the TERRIBLE fashion choices Meyer made – if there’s ever a BEIGE POLO-NECK shortage just head to Forks, yeah!

Oh and in case you were wondering, I’m the lion and Di’s the lamb. LOLZ.

4. The Selection Series: The big debate here is clearly Team Maxon Vs Team Aspen but for once I think me and Di actually agreed (we did, right?). Team Maxon to the max…see what I did there. There was also a lot of talk about how this series helped with our post-Hunger Games blues, and how much we want GILES to play the king in the TV Series. What ever happened to that?

5. Graceling: Oh so much swooning went on at the Graceling edition of YABC. We swooned over the pretty much perfect Prince Po, and at how AWESOME Katsa is. We just love her. KATSA & PO 4EVA.

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6. The Chaos Walking Trilogy: This wasn’t so much a YABC meet-up as it was a constant texting/tweeting/ranting/raving/crying over how amazing, heartbreaking, and just plain HORRIBLE this series is. I think at one point I declared how much I hate Di for giving it to me. IT HURT MY IMPENETRABLE HEART. We cried over poor Todd. And how cute him and Viola are. And let’s not even mention the dog. I just can’t.

7. Uglies: After giving this to Di to read and hearing her thoughts on it I can’t even think about the book without bursting into laughter. I liked it. Sure, the protagonist was annoying, but I thought it was a really brave book that covered some important teenage issues. Di did not. Di hated it with a firey passion which naturally led to a particularly loud edition of YABC.

8. Divergent: There were only really a few topics we managed to focus on when discussing Divergent. First…back to The Hunger Games. Second, HOT MAKE OUT SCENES ON TRAINS. We did manage to briefly discuss which faction we’d be before quickly returning to swoon over Four and his tattoos. Sigh.

9. The Mortal Instruments: Let’s face it. There’s only really one topic in discussion where TMI is concerned – whether Jace and Clary will EVER get it on (I only got up to book 3). And not forgetting the whole possible incest thing. INCEST IS BEST. Ahem. I have a brother – It is NOT. Shudder.

10. The Lunar Chronicles: This is only so far down the list because for once we pretty much agree on everything about these books. Mainly, that they are beyond awesome. We’ve swooned over Prince Kai, Captain Thorne and even Wolf – or maybe that was just me? We love Cinder, and Scarlet and Cress and want to poke Levana’s eyes out. And now we’re just waiting for more.

One more thing: I feel the need to include Narnia here too. I don’t think we’ve even had an actual Narnia YABC but it’s never really far from our thoughts to be honest. Whether we’re discussing if it’s OK to fancy High King Peter, or laughing at Ben Barnes’ accent in the Prince Caspian movie….it’s always a Narnian life for us. For Narnia!

Currently Reading: The One by Kiera Cass

15844362The Selection changed America Singer’s life in ways she never could have imagined. Since she entered the competition to become the next princess of Illéa, America has struggled with her feelings for her first love, Aspen–and her growing attraction to Prince Maxon. Now she’s made her choice . . . and she’s prepared to fight for the future she wants.

Find out who America will choose in The One, the enchanting, beautifully romantic third book in the Selection series!

Regular readers will probably be well aware of my unashamed fangirling over this series, and the TURMOIL I was in when the UK release was put back…and back…and back. It got to the point where I didn’t care anymore. I was over it. I didn’t even want to read it anymore.

And then it turned up on my doorstep, and all was forgiven. LOOK HOW PRETTY IT IS.

I’m only six chapters in at the moment, but I’m seriously, sadly hooked again. Oh Maxon, how I’ve missed you.

I could say more, but time writing this, is time away from Maxon.

Swoon-o-rama!

Goodreads
Purchase

The One (The Selection #3) is out now.

The Selection Stories [insert squeal here] by Kiera Cass.

18172471 (1)Two novellas set in the world of Kiera Cass’s #1 New York Times bestselling Selection series are now available in print for the first time. The Prince and The Guard both offer captivating views into the hearts and minds of the two men fighting to win America Singer’s love. This collection also features exclusive bonus content, including a sneak peek at The One, the eagerly anticipated third novel in the Selection series.

Before America arrived at the palace to compete in the Selection, there was another girl in Prince Maxon’s life. The Prince opens the week before the Selection begins and follows Maxon through the first day of the competition.

Raised as a Six, Aspen Leger never dreamed that he would find himself living in the palace as a member of the royal guard. In The Guard, readers get an inside look at Aspen’s life within the palace walls–and the truth about a guard’s world that America will never know.

Just in case you’ve missed my previous fangirling installments, I’m a teeny bit obsessed with Kiera Cass’ The Selection Series, certainly more obsessed than any 30 year old should be (shudder)! But I’ve never been one to read novellas, especially when they’re only available online, so I was pretty stoked when this was released last month to add to my collection of pretty covers.

Oh Maxon. Swoon.

There’s not a great deal to The Prince and The Guard really, but they still quenched my Selection thirst and will tide me over until The One is released next month.

Both novellas let us see the selection process from different perspectives than the books. In The Prince, we see Maxon prepare for the arrival of the girls, his anxieties and fears. And we also get more of an insight into his relationship with the king.

I liked finding out what he thought of America and the other girls, and becoming king. He’s just so cute, and slightly damaged which obviously hot. TEAM MAXON all the way.

In The Guard, we get a better insight into the royal guard and Aspen’s plans to win America back, set at the time of the second book, The Elite. We also see more of the sinister underbelly of the court, and the rebel attacks.

Also, there was this weird part about the guards taking drugs to enhance their abilities, which never really developed into anything but was a welcome element of intrigue. Hopefully it’ll develop into more in The One.

I think it would be hard to recommend this to anyone who hasn’t read the books, but it could be a good taster. The series is definitely not for everyone, but I think it’s a masterpiece in YA trash. I can’t get enough.

Is it May 6th yet???

unicorn rating 4

Disclosure?: Nope, I bought it!
Title: The Selection Stories
Author: Kiera Cass
Details: Paperback, 227 pages
Published: February 4th 2014 by HarperTeen
My Rating: 4/5

Top Ten Tuesday: Books To Make You SWOON

toptentuesday
Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the image to visit them) who pick a different topic each week. This week the topic is supposed to be Top Ten Reasons you love reading or blogging but I missed last week’s as I was gallivanting around Iceland and I really wanted to do that topic! So here are my Top Ten Books to make you swoon.

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1. Twilight: I can’t help it OK. Edward Cullen is totally hot and I will spend the rest of my life trying to get the image of Robert Pattinson out of my head. YOU ARE NOT EDWARD CULLEN.

2. Vampire Academy: Vampires are clearly going to feature quite heavily in this list. It’s an affliction. I read this for the first time recently and Dimitri definitely has the potential to be my new book boyfriend. And Rose can be my book girlfriend too. I am THAT greedy. Double swoon

3. Graceling: Katsa and Po are one of my favourite book couple ever. So many things about their relationship made me swoon. And who doesn’t love a Prince??

4. The Selection: I am firmly Team Maxon. I would be fighting for my place to be his one. And see above RE: Prince.

5. Morganville Vampires: It’s been a long time since I read these books, I got up to number 8 and lost interest a bit but I loved Claire and Shane’s romance in the earlier books. Michael, the guitar playing vampire is pretty swoon-worthy too.

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6.Throne of Glass: Celaena Sardothien is proper hot so she obviously has her pick of guys including Prince Dorian (yes another Prince – are you sensing another theme here?) and royal guard Chaol. I’m rooting for Dorian, obvs.

7. Sunshine: Con isn’t a cuddly, sparkly vampire, but man he’s really hot. The sexual tension between him and the eponomous protagonist is hawwwwwwt.

8. TMI: Jace, Simon, Malec, Isabelle….need I say more!?

9. Divergent: Tris and Four’s antics had me swooning quite a bit. The hot make-out scene on the train for one.

10. The Hunger Games: GALE. JUST GALE OK.

Favourites Friday #6: Tuck Everlasting and why Immortals are so hot!

Click to view on Goodreads
Click to view on Goodreads

When Winnie stumbles across a spring which can bestow the gift of everlasting life, she also stumbles across the unforgettable Tuck family. The Tucks, having drunk from this spring, will never age, and will never die. With a calm clearsightedness they have kept the spring’s whereabouts secret, realising the harm and chaos full knowledge of it would bring. But the Tucks need to take grave measures when the spring’s secret is in danger of being revealed…

Disclosure: I think this is the first book I’ve chosen for Favourites Friday that I didn’t give a full 5 stars to on Goodreads and that I have read less than 3 times. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not great! I think one of the main reasons for deducting a star was that it was too short. I wanted MORE.

I discovered this book late. Like really late. It was first published in 1975 (and you can tell…it has that great old whimsical style to it where every word counts) and I probably first read it when I was about 20. If I’d read it when I was younger I know for a fact that I would have fallen in love with it even more than I did then. That weird thing happened on my first discovery of it too, I went to look it up thinking ‘I feel like this should be a film’ only to find out that Disney had released it a few years earlier (2002). And then literally about a week later, it was shown on TV on a Saturday afternoon. I went from being completely oblivious to it being everywhere. Weird how that happens, huh? I LOVE the film too btw…but more on that later.

I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of immortality. Vampires are my favourites, obviously, but there’s a lot to be said for just your average boy that can’t grow up. Peter Pan was probably my first ever fictional crush, (does he really count as being immortal? Anyway…) but after reading this Jesse Tuck was a big contender too. He’s quite clearly the cutest thing ever even if he’s a bit aloof initially. He’s funny too.

You mustn’t drink from it. Comes right up out of the ground. Probably pretty dirty” he began to pile pebbles over it again. “But you drank some,” Winnie reminded him. “Oh. Did you see that? Well, I’ll drink anything”

Man after my own heart!

There’s something really sweet in the way tries to discourage Winnie from drinking the water from the spring that has turned them immortal, you instantly realise that maybe living forever isn’t quite the gift that it sounds.

The rest of the book is basically the Tuck family keeping Winnie ‘hostage’ until they figure out what to do, or until they believe that she won’t tell anyone about the spring, and to convince her of that they have to tell her the truth.

Do you understand, child? That water – it stops you right where you are. If you’d had a drink of it today, you’d stay a little girl forever. You’d never grow up, not ever.

It’s heart-breaking really, the whole story is just mega sad, but beautiful too. This is the line that always particularly sticks in my head whenever I’m thinking about immortality (happens a lot):

You can’t have living without dying. So you can’t call it living, what we got. We just are, we just be, like rocks beside the road.

It’s that old chesnut isn’t it? You can’t have good without bad, or how do you know what good is? There’s no good without evil after all.

So, you should definitely read the book. It really reminds me of Alice Hoffman too, it has that magical, sleepy summertime prose to it that makes it perfect for a quick sunny Sunday afternoon read.

But, can we talk about the film for a second? I think I love the book even more after seeing the film, which never happens to me.

Here are some reasons why the film is awesome:

1. They made Winnie older (she’s only 10 in the book, and Jesse is 17) so they could play a bit more on the romantic element between the two characters. In the book they have a beautiful childish and harmless love for one another but in the film they can get down to sexy time (they don’t really, I think they just kiss…but SWOON).

2. Winnie is played by none other than RORY GILMORE…and I’m not being funny but who ISN’T in love with Rory Gilmore, right?
RORY

3. Jonathan Jackson. Nuff said. I knew Jesse was going to be hot, and Disney did good. I nearly spat out my coffee a few months ago when I saw him being all hot in Nashville and was like ‘IT’S JESSE TUCK GONE SEXY’ I’m sure he’s been in loads of stuff but that’s just not important.

4. I mean SRSLY, look how hot they are!

They are too perfect. I hate them.
They are too perfect. I hate them.

5. Sissy Spacek as Mae too, the casting was OWNED.

I’m going to hunt down the film now. Or maybe just watch Gilmore Girls.

HAPPY WEEKEND!!!