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[eARC Review] Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton

34909789Title: Social Creature
Author:
Tara Isabella Burton
Release Date:
June 5, 2018
Publisher: 
Doubleday Books
Genre(s):
Adult Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers
Edition(s): Digital, Hardback
Pre-Order: Amazon | B&N

Synopsis (from Goodreads): Oxford Clarendon Scholar and travel writer Tara Isabella Burton’s debut SOCIAL CREATURE, pitched as part THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY, part Bret Easton Ellis’s THE RULES OF ATTRACTION, about a small-town girl trying to survive in New York and become part of the city’s literati, who forms an intense friendship with a troubled socialite, leading to extreme consequences, to Margaux Weisman at Doubleday, for publication in Summer 2018, by Emma Parry at Janklow & Nesbit (US).


My Thoughts(1)

This book is absolutely fucking INSANE.

It starts out quietly enough. Troubled socialite Lavinia has a habit of picking up “strays” and Louise is the newest recruit. She’s a working-class, virtual nobody with a talent for writing on the cusp of turning thirty when Lavinia finds her, and she gets swept up in the parties, drugs, and general lifestyle of the rich in NYC. Then things take a turn for the worse when Louise does something that she can’t take back, and tries to keep her newfound place in this newfound literati group intact.

The writing style won’t gel with everyone. It’s fast, and kind of stream-of-consciousness, with run-on sentence paragraphs that some will undoubtedly find annoying, but it works for this story because everything is all over the place, manic, and nothing is as it seems. You’re being told everything and nothing, all the while knowing that every word you read is a build-up to something, that by the time your anticipation crescendos, it’ll feel like you’re about to burst.

Or, at least, that’s how it was for me.

If this book doesn’t have you reacting somewhat similarly, or at all, that’s okay, too.

The narrator is mysterious. It’s not frequent, but occasionally you’ll get a bird’s eye view of what’s happening, almost as if the narrator is kind of prepping you for what’s about to come before jumping back into whatever scene we’re in, waiting for it to play out.

This is a story about narcissism and toxic relationships where one or both parties just want to be loved, admired, and then spiral out of control in their quest to get it.

If you’ve read the synopsis above, then you know that it doesn’t say much except to make comparisons to other authors and their works, but because I have yet to read any Donna Tartt or Gillian Flynn (from the Netgalley description), I can’t speak on how accurate the comparisons are; however, I do believe that this book is unique in storytelling, and it has the potential to be one of, if not the go-to summer beach read this year. Check it out, if you think you can get past the writing style with its multiple, well-intentioned run-on sentences.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars.

*I received an advanced copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

P.S.
The cover that I used above is for the hardback edition. I received the Advanced Reader Copy cover and I love that one more because it seems to fit more with the story.

39132006(Advanced Reader Copy cover. Isn’t gorgeous?)
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T5W: My Favorite LGBTQ+ Reads

Yes, yes, I know it’s been awhile. I don’t remember what my last post was, and even though I could look, I’m not going to. Point is, I’m here now, and I was going to do Top 5 Wednesday on my Booktube channel, but I felt kind of bad that I’ve neglected this side of things for as long as I have. It’s not easy coming up with topics to write about. Add to that it’s been a year since I’ve had this blog? Yeah, no pressure or anything.

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ANYWAY. Top 5 Wednesday. If you couldn’t tell by the title of this blog post, this week’s topic is your favorite LGBTQ+ Reads. Before I move on to the important stuff, let’s get the official business out of the way.

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly book meme officiated in November 2013 and is still going strong! Join the group to become a T5W-er and check out the topics for the current month!

Originally created by Lainey (gingerreadslainey) and currently hosted by Sam (Thoughts on Tomes).

When I checked to see what this week’s topic was, I’ll gladly admit that I got excited. Anything LGBT-related helps get me out reading slumps, but the ones that I read also just help me with any book hangovers that may occur. They’re also just all around good, clean fun.

*record scratch*

Okay. Maybe not exactly clean

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ANYWAY times two: I almost decided to switch this topic around and do my favorite authors who happen to write LGBT stories, but I only came up with four, so that was kind of a bust. I just dreaded the idea of having to physically choose my favorite books because, for the most part, with the exception of maybe one or two, I love them all.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I don’t remember what half of these are about, so bear with me. It’s been awhile since I read some of these. I’m due for another re-read.


#5. Sixty-Five Hours by N.R. Walker

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This one is about two men in the advertising industry, and one of them is the son of the boss who happens to be in the closet, while the other is a transplant from Texas (I think) and is out and proud. Both men think the other hates him, so the boss summons them into his office to let them know that they are to work on a campaign for a potential client over the weekend. Basically, you can guess what happens from there. I think I love this one because I’m pretty sure this originally started as a Twilight fan-fiction of the same name. When I read fan-fiction with the characters from Twilight, my go-to for a good while were stories that paired Edward and Jasper together because why not. It’s something about them as individuals that seemed to click, and I got a bit obsessed with the pairing. But then I also got picky, so now I’m more cautious about which stories I find to read. If they suck, it’s a no-go. Anyway, Sixty-Five Hours is fun, quick, hot and heart-warming. It’s definitely one that I see myself reading repeatedly for years.

#4. The Adrien English Series by Josh Lanyon

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If you’ve been following this blog long enough, y’all know how much I love not only this series, but Josh Lanyon in general. For those of you who somehow don’t know, the Adrien English series starts off with an aspiring mystery writer by the name of Adrien English, who owns a kind of antique bookstore (I think it’s antique; I just know it’s  a bookstore). A good friend of his who worked at the store is found murdered in an alley, and the detectives in charge of the case (one of whom is buried so deep in the closet, he’s either in denial, in Narnia, or both) naturally look to Adrien as a person of interest. The reason I love this series so much is because the writing isn’t filled with flowery prose and men with larger than natural penises (because those would hurt). The love scenes, and there really aren’t that many, are natural and doesn’t come off like some badly directed porn. If mysteries and thrillers aren’t for you, Lanyon has written a few light-hearted novellas that I absolutely love.

#3. The #gaymers Series by Annabeth Albert

I’ll only talk about the first book in this series, and that’s Status Update. This book features another character who’s in the closet (do you see a pattern, here? Because I do), and in order to avoid “temptation,” he takes a teaching job at a Catholic private school and willingly signs a morality clause. I believe the school’s in Texas somewhere, but Noah (I think that’s his name) lives in his RV at one of those RV campgrounds that you rent by the night, in Colorado, I think, and he witnesses another man and his dog fighting with a presumed boyfriend and then abandoned in the cold. Noah’s reluctant to help for obvious reasons (temptation), but eventually he invites the other man inside for warmth and next thing we know they’re headed out on a road trip to the man’s (I’m blanking on his name) hometown for a sister’s wedding. The mystery man works in California, possibly in Silicon Valley, as a computer game designer. If I remember right, the game he’s been working on is supposed to be kind of similar to World of Warcraft, or any other MMORPG out there. Anyway, it’s a cute little story that involves dogs, and there’s humor in it, too. I love anything Annabeth Albert puts out because she’s one of the very few female authors who can write two men in love that doesn’t make me cringe or roll my eyes at the absurdity. Another one of her series will be making an appearance…

#2. Trust the Focus by Megan Erickson

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This one is about two best friends, Justin and Landry, who go on one last road trip together after college graduation, kind of as one last hurrah out of his mother’s controlling grip. They jump into the Winnebago that Justin’s dad left him.  One of the characters (Landry) is out and proud, and the other (Justin) is… you guessed it… deep in the closet. I swear, I’ve never noticed this pattern I have before now. Anyway, the reason why one of them is in the closet is because his mother is uber-conservative, and the reason he’s headed back home while his college is on break, is because he’s been summoned by said mother to attend a political rally for her Senate run. There’s a second book in this series, Focus on Me, that deals with mental illness and eating disorders that I loved just as much. It’s definitely been awhile since I’ve read this first book in particular, so I’m thinking about doing a complete re-read of my favorites soon now.

#1. The Portland Heat Series by Annabeth Albert

Portland Heat Series Collage.jpgTold you she’d make a reappearance on this list.

These books… I honestly don’t know how to describe them. They’re fast, fun, flirty, funny, loving. They also have the ability to make you hungry because there’s food involved. Bakeries, a cafe, a restaurant… I’m getting hungry just thinking about them. And the men are just so incredibly swoon-worthy, I almost wish that they were real and I were a man. Jesus. Anyway, these books do have their fair share of drama, but it’s nothing too over-the-top or too dark. I think a majority of this series are just men who have been burned in the past (not literally, lol) and have trust issues because of it. Or they’re just not looking to settle down, and get the surprise of a lifetime. These books are cheesy as hell, but they’re fun, trashy reads. And I mean trashy in a good way. They’re just light and fluffy and sometimes a girl needs that in her life because the real world is so absolutely shitty.

HONORABLE MENTION (BECAUSE WHY NOT):

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I know this book is polarizing in regards to the writing (style), the characters, and the lack of a plot, but I don’t care. I absolutely love this book, and didn’t even realize that it was LGBT until I read the last few pages.

I mean, I had a gut feeling that that’s where the story was going, but for some reason, it didn’t officially click until those last few pages, and I admit, I swooned. So hard. I loved the familial dynamics of both characters, I loved Ari and Dante. I loved Legs. I loved it all. If you didn’t, that’s okay! I’ll love this book enough for the both of us.

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All right, so, there you have it. Those are my top five LGBT books that I can officially say are my absolute favorite. They’re stories that I can read for years to come and never get bored.

I’ll try to post to this blog more often, but I make no promises. I posted a shit-ton on my Booktube, though.

 

Words We Don’t Say by K.J. Reilly

38455969.jpgTitle: Words We Don’t Say
Author: K.J. Reilly
Release Date: October 2, 2018
Genre(s): Contemporary, YA
Pages: 288
Edition: Print / Digital

Synopsis: Joel Higgins has 901 unsent text messages saved on his phone.

Ever since the thing that happened, there are certain people he hasn’t been able to talk to in person. Sure, he shows up at school, does his mandatory volunteer hours at the soup kitchen, and spends pretty much every moment thinking about Eli, the most amazing girl in the world. But that doesn’t mean he’s keeping it together, or even that he has any friends.

So instead of hanging out with people in real life, he drafts text messages. But he never presses send.

As dismal as sophomore year was for Joel, he doesn’t see how junior year will be any better. For starters, Eli doesn’t know how he feels about her, his best friend Andy’s gone, and he basically bombed the SATs. But as Joel spends more time at the soup kitchen with Eli and Benj, the new kid whose mouth seems to be unconnected to his brain, he forms bonds with the people they serve there-including a veteran they call Rooster-and begins to understand that the world is bigger than his own pain.

{ g o o d r e a d s | a m a z o n }

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Before I get into my thoughts and opinions, I just want to point out that I was granted an opportunity to read this novel by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The fact that was able to read an advance copy has no bearing on how I feel after having read it.

Now, with that out of the way, I was going to come into this review saying that I had so many mixed emotions with this book, but that would be a lie. For the most part, I was enjoying this story up until I got nearer to the end when a huge event took place and it seemingly came from out of left field.

The writing style won’t be for everyone. It’s told in first-person perspective, and while I can kind of guess what the author was going for with the stream-of-consciousness writing, I personally don’t think that this was the book to benefit well from it. Stream-of-consciousness writing isn’t easy to execute, and with a book that’s ninety-percent internal monologue, the constant run-on sentences started to become too much and the more I kept reading, the more I wanted to scream at Joel — the main character — to slow down and breathe.

Joel’s stream-of-conscious thoughts, I believe, were to showcase how neurotic he is, and for the most part, that comes off really, really well. He’s a self-diagnosed hypochondriac who spends way too much time on WebMD looking up random symptoms and then applying them to himself and his family. I’m not entirely sure what his hypochondria had to do with the rest of the story, but I would have to guess that it also went to show his neuroses. I think that could have been shown and done better than bringing hypochondria into play, but I’m not going to assume that I know why the author did what she did.

This book, first and foremost, seems to be dealing with grief, and what that means to different people. The concept surrounding this story is an interesting one because of the way it is told. You have the stream-of-consciousness, and most chapters end with a one-sided text conversation that’s used as a sort of journal for Joel’s thoughts in place of an actual journal.

On the subject of the text messages, that was the thing that drew me into the story to begin with. The idea that this character, with hundreds of unsent texts on his phone for whatever reason, is an interesting one, and so I went into the book thinking it was going to be something completely different than what it was. That’s no fault of the author, by the way. If anything, it’s more so the fault of the synopsis, because you’re being led to believe that The Thing That Happened is something major, big enough for Joel to feel as if he cannot talk to or open up to anyone in person, which is why he drafts text messages but doesn’t send them.

The Thing That Happened, I’m unsure if the synopsis is hinting at Joel’s best friend’s death, or the incident that happens near the end of the book. I’m inclined to believe that it’s about the best friend’s death, but the fact that it’s confusing to me is just another reason why this book disappointed me. This is where the stream-of-consciousness was more a hindrance than a help.

The story also tries to tackle mental illness and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in its various forms, but focusing more specifically on homeless veterans since, for a community service project, Joel and his friends volunteer every Wednesday at a soup kitchen serving food to the hungry, most of them homeless veterans, and I think this plus the grief and mental illnesses briefly touched upon are why this story came across as a bit of a mess and all over the place: there was just too much trying to be accomplished and it didn’t work out as well as it probably could have. Especially with the shocking turn of events towards the end.

A lot of the characters ended up falling flat for me. The only one I was able to kind of connect with was Joel, and that’s just because he’s the narrator of his story. We don’t really get to know more about what his mom is like except that she’s most likely the one he gets his hypochondria from; his dad is a seemingly successful mechanic, and Joel helps out in the shop on occasion (we’re told this, but never actually see it); and his little brother, all we really learn about him is that he wets the bed a lot, and every time it happens, he goes to sleep in Joel’s room, but nothing is ever done about the bed-wetting because their mom lives by the, “If you ignore it, it’ll stop,” mentality, which obviously isn’t healthy.

I wouldn’t say she’s a “bad” mother — she’s not. It’s clear that she loves her kids, and she’s a YA parent who gives a shit, so kudos to the author for making that decision. I just kind of wanted to learn more about her character through mother-son interactions, but I didn’t really get that, and all I learned about his dad is that he’s a baseball fanatic who’s always sitting in front of the television watching a Yankees game than he is doing anything else.

Joel’s friends aren’t much better, either. You have Eli, a girl who’s a friend that our main character has been in love with for years but afraid to do anything about; there’s Benj Kutcherson, the new kid in his class who has no friends because apparently every student at their school thinks he’s some kind of psychopath who killed  his parents (and I still have yet to understand how that rumor came to be, or if it was just for the sake of the story); and then there’s Andy. Andy is Joel’s best friend from Kindergarten, and from the beginning you’re aware that something happened to him, and pretty quickly you make the connection that Andy is no longer alive. How he died, I’ll leave that for you to find out, should you read this for yourself.

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The Bookish Naughty or Nice Tag!

Hey nerds,

I’ve been seeing this tag pop up a few times already this month, and since it’s perfect for us book lovers to get into the Christmas spirit, I figured I’d jump on the bandwagon, too.

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So, this is a tag that was started by Jenn and the rules are pretty simple: tag & link the person who tagged you (nobody did); link back to the original post, tick or cross off the ones you have done; tag people (the original post says 10, but we’ll see). Also, remember that you’re still a good person even if you are on the naughty list. This is just a bit of fun. And anyway, being on the naughty list has its own connotations for those of us with dirty minds, so.

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Received an ARC and not reviewed it

Guilty. This is why part of my goal for next year is to play catch-up. 

Have less than 60% feedback rating on Netgalley

This is how I came up with one of the goals for next year . . .

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Rated a book on Goodreads and promised a full review was to come on your blog (and never did) ✘

Pretty sure I haven’t. I know I’ve written those words before, particularly for ARCs that I received, and somehow I always remember — albeit within a week, or a month — to go back and write something. Usually it’s a condensed version of what I wrote on this blog, or a complete copy-and-paste, depending on my mood.

Folded down the page of a book

All day, every day. No shame in my game. It’s fine if you, yourselves, don’t want to or can’t imagine ever doing something like dog-ear a book, but I personally love it when my books look well-read. Here’s a shocker: I don’t mind broken spines, either (if they happen naturally, because of said well-readness).

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Accidentially spilled on a book

I actually did this last weekend. Went to set my coffee mug down on the top of my bookcase, and some coffee spilled out and landed on a book or two. Thankfully, it was only the covers, and they’re the kind of covers that don’t get ruined so easily.

DNF a book this year

I’ve DNF’d three books this year: Tyler Johnson Was Here; Suicide Club; and This Happened to Jessica.

Bought a book purely because it was pretty with no intention of reading it ✘

I never buy a book without having the intention of reading it. If anything, I’ll buy a book that I am so sure I’m going to read, only to end up forgetting about it and it just sits on my shelf looking pretty. In that regard, yes, there’s at least one book I own that I bought because the cover drew me in, but I had every intention of reading it. I just forgot.

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Read whilst you were meant to be doing something else (like homework) ✘

If anything, for the first half of the year, I read because I had nothing else to do. Job searching gets boring, and while I am still doing that on top of the transcription work, these last couple of months it’s been the opposite. Which is a good thing because I’m being productive, but also the blog got put on a back burner.

Skim read a book ✘

It’s very rare that I ever do this. I think the last time was a couple of years ago, on my Kindle. It was a M/M romance and I was losing interest fast, so skimmed to the end and then went back and finished it out, but I don’t think I gave the book a high rating in the end. I don’t think I’ve reviewed it on the blog, that’s how insignificant I found it to be.

Completely missed your Goodreads goal ✘

I actually completed my goal in . . . August or September, I can’t remember. I’m about 14 books past the goal now, which is about the same as last year.

Borrowed a book and not returned it ✘

Every book I’ve borrowed, all from the library, I’ve returned on its due date.

Broke a book buying ban ✘

I wasn’t on one, so . . . can’t break something that was never in place.

Started a review, left it for ages then forgot what the book was about

I think I have about 10 posts sitting in my Drafts folder as proof of this.

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Wrote in a book you were reading

Mostly ARCs, and it’s usually to underline certain phrases, or to put brackets around notable paragraphs. Sometimes, though, I will write in the margins, but that’s only for when a book is really making me question everything. Sometimes I like keeping a running commentary.

Finished a book and not added it to your Goodreads

I’m sure I’ve done this, I just don’t remember what book, if any.

Borrowed a book and not returned it to a friend ✘

None of my friends read, so no. Why do you think I started this blog?

Dodged someone asking if they can borrow a book ✘

The only people who would ever ask to borrow a book from me are my older sister and my niece, but they haven’t in awhile because one of them (the sister) isn’t a reader, and the other (the niece), for the most part, reads different books than I do.

Broke the spine of someone else’s book ✘

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Took the jacket off a book to protect it and ended up making it more damaged ✘

Honestly, I’m pretty great at keeping dust jackets protected. It’s the paperback covers that need to worry.

Sat on a book accidentally

I mean, honestly. Who hasn’t? Mostly hardbacks, though, which hurt the ass because of those pointy corners. Still not as bad as stepping on a LEGO.

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All right, that’s it for me. I don’t know who’s all done this tag yet, or who’s going to do it, so I think I’ll just leave it at that. If you want to do the tag, great, consider it done. There’s a blank set of questions on Jenn’s post that you can grab for your own answers.

Happy reading!

Sarah

What I’m Not Gonna Buy // #AntiHaul #1

Hey Nerds,

So, one thing to know about me is that, when I’m not doing anything book-related like reading or watching BookTube videos, I’m binge-watching gaming videos, but when I’m not doing that, then I watch beauty videos. Some beauty “gurus,” as they’re called, have an on-going series on their channels called “Anti-Hauls,” which is basically just them discussing all the hyped makeup products being released that they’re not going to buy for various reasons. If it’s a palette, they probably won’t buy it because they have similar colors in their collection already, or the color scheme is underwhelming. Things like that.

This particular trend was started by Kimberly Clark, and now that I’ve finally watched her anti-haul videos, I’m practically obsessed at this point. If makeup videos are your thing, check her out, if you’re interested.

Anyway, I started thinking about all the book releases that happened in 2018, and decided that I wanted to do something similar. Instead of discussing books that I received in the mail recently, or new releases that I’m excited for, I want to do something different.

Thus we have . . . the anti-haul.

Or as the title of this blog post says: books I’m not gonna buy.

It’s all really simple. Talk about the books that I have no intention of buying (at this point in time), and talk about why I don’t want to buy them. Easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy.

Disclaimer: These titles aren’t on a permanent no-buy list. I could very well change my mind in the future about any of these, but until that moment comes, I’m not going to waste money on them right now.

Ready? I am. Welcome to the first post of my new, definitely not original, series: books that I’m not gonna buy. I will say that this first post is going to encompass books from all of 2018, but starting in 2019, I’m going to do it as monthly as possible for those book releases that get so hyped up, and I want to basically say that I’m not going to fall for just anyone’s influence on whether I should read a book or not. Some of these may be controversial (like, at least one for sure will be controversial), but I have my reasons. You don’t have to agree, but I do ask that you respect it.

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ROUND 1:

  • Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli. To be completely honest with you all, I was never that excited for this book’s release as everyone else seemed to be. I only just read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda this year because I wanted to watch the movie, and that book was good but not great. As for Leah, she was my least favorite character in that book because of how bitchy she was to Abby, and now I’m supposed to believe that they’re suddenly soulmates? No, thanks.
  • Save the Date by Morgan Matson. As much as I’m positive this author’s books are right up my alley, I just can’t say that Morgan Matson’s books have ever interested me. Maybe it’s the hype, I don’t know. I have no intention of ever reading anything by this author, and I can’t exactly put my finger on the why.
  • Meet Cute by multiple authors. As much as I love a good meet-cute story, I’m not as big of a fan of short story collections. That’s really the only reason why this is on my Do Not Buy list. Simple as that.
  • Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. Yep. I said it. As much as I would love to get my hands on a copy of this fantasy series, I’ve since put it at the bottom of my list because of the author’s accusations against Nora Roberts, trying to say that the title of her book was “stolen.” Do you know how many times I’ve gone on Amazon to search for a book and get results of titles that are ridiculously similar? Spoiler alert: it’s a lot. I will say, however, that if you give this book an automatic negative review without having read it just because of the drama, you’re an idiot.
  • Restore Me by Tahereh Mafi. Only because I’ve never read the rest of the series, and I’m still unsure if I even want to. My first Tahereh Mafi book was also her first Contemporary, and I loved that, so it’s possible . . . but the Shatter Me series is also a genre that I’m not that familiar with, but I’m trying to familiarize myself with it. I just don’t know what I like and dislike, yet.

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ROUND 2:

  • Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaugen. Nothing against this one, but I just don’t see myself ever reading it. The synopsis turned me off when I read that the main character “trades her freedom to ensure the safety of her family” and marries some kind of tyrant, and she ends up falling in love with the king’s brother. No, thanks. I  hate messy love stories like that.
  • Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine and Anne Aguirre. Same as the last one: I just don’t see myself ever reading it. Nothing about it looks interesting to me.
  • Zenith by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings. As much as I want to read this because of how much drama it caused within the book community, I’m not going to because, drama aside, it doesn’t seem like a book that I’m interested in reading, anyway. Mostly because I don’t know if I’m into “space operas” (I don’t even know what that entails, so I’ll have to Google it later). I’m aware of who Sasha is, I’m subscribed to her channel, though I may unsubscribe because I don’t watch her videos anymore, but this book was the first I’ve ever heard of her writing partner, Lindsay, and I checked out her other books and those don’t seem at all interesting, either.
  • The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert. Despite the gorgeous cover, this book doesn’t look like it has anything for me in regard to content.
  • Undead Girl Gang by Lilly Anderson. I love zombies. I watch The Walking Dead (though not at the same time as everyone else; I’m planning to binge the rest of the first half of the current season), but this one seems too . . . I don’t know, cutesy? for my taste. Or I guess the cover is too cutesy, which, I know, don’t judge a book by its cover and all that, but the synopsis does nothing for me, either. I hear great things about it, but this just isn’t the kind of zombie book I like to read about. Not in the YA age range, in any case.

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ROUND 3:

  • Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles. This one is a unique case. I actually tried reading this back around the time it was released and I borrowed it from my library through an app, but I ended up DNF’ing it long before Tyler Johnson went missing and found dead (not a spoiler, it’s in the goddamned synopsis). For me, what made me quit was not just the writing, which isn’t the best, but the characters. They all felt one-dimensional and flat, undeveloped. Most of the adults that I encountered in the story (I DNF’ed at 36% on my Kindle) were cardboard villains, no substance. Mean for the sake of being mean. This book read like a first draft that still needed several rounds of editing to make sure everything is fleshed out to the best of the author’s ability. This book reads like it was trying to piggyback on the success of The Hate U Give. I don’t disagree that books like Tyler Johnson Was Here are important to have, especially when told from the singular point-of-view of a black protagonist, but I feel like this author may have bit off more than he could chew. I can appreciate what the book was trying to do, but it failed in its mission, in my opinion, by making everyone a stereotype of themselves. Caricatures, even.
  • Smoke in the Sun (Flame in the Mist #2) by Renee Ahdieh. I hated the first book in this series because it didn’t feel like the author’s storytelling. I had just come off the high of reading Ahdieh’s previous duology, The Wrath and the Dawn and The Rose and the Dagger, and then I read Flame in the Mist and it was such a letdown. I could appreciate the setting, which is the only reason why I gave it two-stars instead of one, but the whole first book was a bunch  of telling instead of showing. We’re told that Mariko is smart and strong and independent, but not once are we shown any of this. Like, she’s apparently the inventor of Japanese throwing stars, but the way that came about was so random and so unbelievable to me. So, no, I have no intention on continuing or finishing the series. It’s definitely not for me.

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And that’s a wrap on the first #AntiHaul of books that I’m not going to buy! This was fun. I think I’ll definitely keep making this a habit to do as monthly as I can. While this post focused entirely on the Young Adult books that I’m not going to buy, I will be including books in other age groups as well in future posts. I just did YA because it was the easiest. Adult fiction may be the most difficult for me because that’s probably the one age group where I have my auto-buy authors, and very rarely try to go outside of that. I’ll try to include as many adult fiction as I can, but for the most part, for the foreseeable future at least, this may just be mainly a YA anti-haul, which is fine. I just wanted to do something different, inspired by the beauty videos that I watch.

Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed reading this as much as I had fun writing it. What are some books, popular or not, that are on your anti-haul list? Let me know down in the comments!

Happy reading!

Sarah

T5W: Book Wish List | December 2018

Hey Nerds,

So, I kind of failed Top 5 Wednesday last month because despite saying that I was going to a post for every week, I only ended up doing it for that initial week in November. No excuses, but an explanation: I started an online transcription job last month, and I’ve kind of been putting all my focus towards that instead of this blog, so as a result I wasn’t in much of a blogging mood. Just like with any job, both in-person and online, I’m trying to find a balance between the two, which means I’m trying to get into the habit of scheduling posts.

Anyway, that’s not why you’re here. This is the last month for Top 5 Wednesday 2018! Where has the time gone? In case you didn’t know this already, it’s a Goodreads group that is run and hosted by Sam over at Thoughts on Tomes on YouTube, originally created by Lainey over at GingerReadsLainey, also on YouTube. Anyone’s free to join, just click here to be taken to the group page (opens in a new tab).

December 5: Book Wish List
— If you celebrate a gift-giving holiday this time of year, or even if you don’t, talk about the books or bookish items you have on your wish list!

MY BOOK(ISH) WISH LIST IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

The French edition of Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo.

I don’t normally care at all about collecting different editions of books that I’ve read and loved . . . until now. Despite taking three years of French in high school, I don’t speak a lick of it, so these would just be sitting on my shelves looking pretty, but you know what? I’m totally okay with that. I just need those covers in my life, as soon as possible.

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Fantastic Beasts: The Magizoologist’s Discovery Case:

Y’all, I haven’t even seen the first movie, and now the second one just came out (I think)? I really have no business having this on my list when I don’t even know if I’ll like the movie, but it is what it is. I enjoyed the book, and while we’re at it, let me just go ahead an add Crimes of Grindelwald to this, too. It fits.

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Hindsight: & All the Things I Can’t See in Front of Me by Justin Timberlake.

As a lifelong *NYSNC fan (who was really Team Both between them and Backstreet Boys, but SHHH!), I need this book in my life. When I went to the store earlier this week, I was browsing the minuscule book section, as us bookworms are wont to do, and I saw this book in the flesh and boy, is it heavy. And kind of expensive. But worth it. Also, if any of you follow him on Instagram and have seen his Insta-Stories, you’ll know that (so far) he’s gone to three different bookstores to sign three copies of his book at random, and then tells the fans to, “Come and get ’em.” Or something to that effect.

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The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken:

Mostly because I won the newest book in the series, The Darkest Legacy, in a raffle via Bookish First, but I can’t read it until I read the rest of the series, so. That’s what I get for entering to win a book when I’ve never read the series. Egg on my face.

Chronicles of the One Series by Nora Roberts:

I was so tempted to grab myself a copy of the first book when I was at the store earlier this week, but I refrained. Barely. I’m a huge fan Nora Roberts, whether she’s writing Romance or Fantasy or . . . whatever else (Crime Thrillers? I think she writes under a pseudonym). I just absolutely love her writing because it’s so easy for me to get sucked into the story, and I have no doubt that this would be the case with both of these books.

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What’s on your book (or bookish) wish list?
Tell me in the comments!

Blog Tour: STRANDED FOR CHRISTMAS (Holiday Acres #4) by Noelle Adams // Review + Giveaway!

A snowstorm. Her much older business partner. A snowstorm changes Laura Holiday and Russ Matheson’s relationship forever. Contemporary Romance fans will love this sexy holiday romance from New York Times Bestselling Author Noelle Adams!

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Rafflecopter for Stranded for Christmas Review and Excerpt Tour Giveaway:

Noelle is offering one (1) lucky Grand Prize winner a paperback set of her Holiday Acres series containing Stranded on the Beach, Stranded in the Snow, Stranded in the Woods, and Stranded for Christmas! Two (2) Runner-ups will receive an eCopy of one book from Noelle’s backlist titles (winner’s choice). To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below:

Direct Link:
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b050ef29597/

. . . . . .

About Stranded for Christmas:

Stranded for Christmas2.jpgTitle: Stranded for Christmas
Author: Noelle Adams
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: December 4, 2018
Publisher: Noelle Adams
Series: Holiday Acres #4
Format: Digital eBook
Digital ISBN: 9781386913887

Stranded for Christmas (Holiday Acres #4)

A snowstorm. Her much older business partner. One very hot night.

Laura Holiday doesn’t believe in romance. Her life revolves around her work and her six-year-old son. The last thing she wants is a fling with her friend and business partner, Russ Matheson, who is emotionally unavailable and thirteen years older than her. But one night in a snowstorm changes their relationship forever.

Add to your TBR list: Goodreads
Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | iTunes

. . . . . .

MY REVIEW:

This book was everything I was looking for in a steamy romance. It had the sexy, the sweet, the frustrating, and the happy ending. When it’s the holiday season, and you’re into that sort of thing, steamy romances could be just what you need to get into the Christmas spirit.

So, Laura Holiday is a single mother who runs a popular Christmas Tree farm (I think?), but it also seems to be a kind of bed-and-breakfast as well, because there are cabins on the property that customers can stay in for however long they choose to, which confused me. Considering this is the fourth book in the series, though, I imagine that it’s my fault for not having read the previous books to get all the answers cleared up for me. For the most part, it can act as a standalone, if you’re just looking a cute, fluff romance with some drama, but from a story standpoint, I recommend reading the first three novels prior to this so you don’t come out as confused about the family business like I did.

Russ Matheson is Laura’s business partner and good friend, who has a family tie to the business, and he also happens to be 14 years her senior. He’s been harboring a crush on Laura for at least a couple of years, and has gotten pretty well at hiding it (or so he thinks), until one snowy night. After Laura takes her son to his piano lesson in town, she gets stuck inside a cabin uphill and Russ has to drive to go get her, but of course, he’s stubborn, so instead of staying in the car and calling Laura to let her know he’s there, he has to get out and trek through the snow, up to the Candy Cane Lane cabin, and thus begins the story.

Things did move ridiculously fast in the romance aspect, but considering this story does revolve around one night of passion, the actual story is the two main characters trying to come to terms with their feelings for one another, so understandably, there are loads of miscommunication (which is irritating, but I get it). I think what I loved most about this story, besides the main couple and their struggles, are the side characters. Laura’s son is just ridiculously adorable, and Laura’s sisters were wise enough to tell Laura when she was wrong.

I loved especially near the end when one character decided to finally grab the bull by the horns and put it all out there, and didn’t give up hope when one would do all they could to avoid a conversation. It was one of those moments where I was just like, “Finally! Thank you! It’s about time someone got their head out of their ass.” The reunion scene in this book is probably one of my favorites too, probably because I’m such a hopeless romantic and anytime a male hero in a romance puts his heart on the line, my eyes can’t help but tear up a bit.

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

. . . . . .

Other Books in the Holiday Acres series:

Stranded on the Beach2.jpgStranded on the Beach (Holiday Acres #1)

A forced vacation on the beach. The man who broke her heart. A second chance at love.

Rebecca Holiday’s sisters force her to take a two-week vacation on the beach for some much needed rest, but then she runs into the man who broke her heart, the only man she’s ever loved.

When they decide to spend time together, it’s only supposed to be closure, but what they might discover is a second chance at love.

Add to your TBR list: Goodreads
Available: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | iTunes

. . .

Stranded in the Snow2.jpgStranded in the Snow (Holiday Acres #2)

An unexpected snowstorm. The man she hates the most. One very hot night.

Olivia Holiday does not expect to spend the weekend stranded in a romantic cottage during a snowstorm with the one man she resents the most. Scott Matheson is a player and holds a grudge against her family, and she really shouldn’t find him so hot. They share a deep history as well as an attraction, and it all comes out as they’re trapped together for one hot night.

Add to your TBR list: Goodreads
Available: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | iTunes

. . .

Stranded in the Woods2.jpgStranded in the Woods (Holiday Acres #3)

A surprise snowstorm. A grumpy recluse. One very hot night.

When Penny Holiday gets stranded during a snowstorm, she has to seek refuge with Kent Matheson, a childhood friend who lives like a hermit and has never forgiven her family. Kent is everything she shouldn’t want, but feelings are awakened in his cabin in the woods that don’t disappear when the snow finally melts.

Add to your TBR list: Goodreads
Available: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | iTunes

. . . . . .

Noelle Adams Photo.jpgNoelle handwrote her first romance novel in a spiral-bound notebook when she was twelve, and she hasn’t stopped writing since. She has lived in eight different states and currently resides in Virginia, where she reads any book she can get her hands on and offers tribute to a very spoiled cocker spaniel.

She loves travel, art, history, and ice cream. After spending far too many years of her life in graduate school, she has decided to reorient her priorities and focus on writing contemporary romances.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub

. . . . . .

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Blog Tour: This Happened to Jessica by Michele Pariza Wacek (Excerpt + Giveaway!)

From bestselling author, Michele Pariza Wacek comes the next book in her Secrets of Redemption series, THIS HAPPENED TO JESSICA. Becca would like nothing better than to put the past behind her, instead she races against time to uncover the truth about what happened to Jessica before another sixteen-year-old girl is doomed to the same fate. Fans of Nora Roberts’ paranormal suspense novels, THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins and classic Stephen King will devour this psychological thriller with an eerie twist of romantic suspense.

THIS HAPPENED TO JESSICA (Secrets of Redemption, Book 2) by Michele Pariza Wacek. Available Now. Get your copy today!

Title: This Happened to Jessica
Author: Michele Pariza Wacek
Release Date: November 27, 2018
Publisher: Love-Based Publishing
Series: Secrets of Redemption #2
Genre: Psychological thriller/mystery/romantic suspense

Synopsis:

Becca would like nothing better than to put the past behind her and focus on making Redemption her home. But what do you do when the past refuses to stay buried?

Becca still can’t remember the night sixteen-year-old Jessica disappeared from a party, never to be seen again. Which is bad enough (especially since she was supposedly the last person to see Jessica alive), but it’s not the worst.

Strange events are making Becca think there’s a link between what happened to Jessica fifteen years ago and the darkness happening now.

With help from her friends and her teenage crush, Daniel, Becca races against time to uncover the truth about Jessica before another sixteen-year-old girl is doomed to the same fate as Jessica.

Add to Goodreadshttp://bit.ly/2PvX5Oc
Buy Now: Amazon

THIS HAPPENED TO JESSICA Excerpt
Copyright © 2018 Michele Pariza Wacek

Celia was looking around the table with a bewildered expression on her face. “I don’t understand. Why does it matter if Jessica is related to Brittany?”

“Because Brittany looks like Jessica,” Mia said.

Everyone fell silent. A woman next to us burst into hysterical, high-pitched laughter. Another table over, a group of college-aged guys started chanting as one of their friends, wearing a Wisconsin Badger cap, guzzled a pitcher of beer. Glasses clanked as they were plunked onto tables.

“Not this again,” Celia breathed out, picking up her Cosmo and draining it.

“What do you mean, ‘not this again?’” Mia asked, her voice quiet, but with a dangerous edge.

Barry put a hand on Celia’s arm. “Nothing. She means nothing.” He glared at his wife. Celia kept her mouth shut, but her sour expression spoke volumes.

“Barry, let her talk,” Mia said. “What do you mean, ‘not this again?'”

“You know what I mean,” Celia said. “It’s been fifteen years. It’s time to let it go.”

“Let it go?” Mia said, her voice sounding even more quiet and dangerous. “Let it go? Our friend disappeared! And we don’t know what happened to her!”

“First off, I’m sure Jessica left on her own. Her stuff was gone …”

“But, it wasn’t the right …” Mia tried to interrupt, but Celia kept going. “And even if something did happen, she’s gone. Gone!” Celia leaned forward. “I know this is difficult for you to hear, but you’re not going to heal unless you, all of you …” here she looked around the table, “… accept it. She’s gone. She’s been gone for fifteen years. She’s not coming back. And no amount of rehashing or talking about it is going to change that.”

“She was our friend,” Mia said. “Don’t you get that? How heartless can you be?”
“I know she was your friend and I know this is painful to hear. No, Barry, stop it. Let me talk. This isn’t healthy. It’s not healthy to live in the past and that’s precisely what everyone here is doing. Someone has to speak the truth and I guess that has to be me. I didn’t know Jessica, but I very much doubt she would want all of you still obsessing over what happened to her fifteen years later. Besides, this has all gotten worse since she,” she nodded toward me, “came back. We don’t need to keep living in the past. Jessica is gone.”

“I agree,” Rich said, his deep voice cutting across the table. His voice was quiet, but there was something about it that caused everyone to pay attention. Maybe it was because he so seldom talked that when he finally did, it was really noticed. “If we’re not going to be honest about what happened that night, then it makes no sense to keep talking about it.”

“What aren’t we being honest about?” Mia asked.

Rich stared at me, his dark eyes glittering. “If we’re honest, we know exactly who to blame for that night.”

Did he mean me? I stared at Rich, dumbfounded. “What do you mean?”

His gaze didn’t flinch. “You know exactly what I mean.”

You were the last person to see Jessica alive. Daniel had told me that. And Daphne. But, he couldn’t possibly mean I had anything to do with Jessica’s disappearance. Could he?

Start at the beginning of Becca’s story with IT BEGAN WITH A LIE!
The first in her brand-new Secrets of Redemption series, bestselling author, Michele Pariza Wacek brings you IT BEGAN WITH A LIE. Becca was hoping for a fresh start for her troubled family, but instead, she is thrust into a mysterious past she barely remembers, one that threatens not only her sanity but her life. Fans of Nora Roberts’ paranormal suspense novels, GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn and classic Stephen King will devour this psychological thriller with an eerie twist of romantic suspense.

Goodreadshttp://bit.ly/2zzkGtN
Amazonhttps://amzn.to/2zAHIAC

Enter to win signed copies of IT BEGAN WITH A LIE & THIS HAPPENED TO JESSICA. Three will win a digital copy of IT BEGAN WITH A LIE!

Direct Link:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Michele P.W.:

Michele Pariza Wacek (also known as Michele PW) taught herself to read at three years old because she so badly wanted to write fiction. As an adult, she became a professional copywriter (copywriters write promotional materials for businesses, nothing to do with protecting intellectual property or putting a copyright on something) and eventually founded a copywriting and marketing company. She grew up in Madison, Wisconsin and currently lives with her husband and dogs in the mountains of Arizona. You can reach her at MicheleParizaWacek.com. She’s published two novels, “The Stolen Twin” and “Mirror Image,” both psychological thrillers/mystery/suspense books.

Follow: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Newsletter | Amazon | BookBub | Pinterest | Instagram


Thanksgiving Book Tag

Hey book nerds, and Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Americans!

This is honestly the last thing that I should be working on (I still need to finish my Love, Simon movie review and get that posted), but I haven’t been feeling in a blogging mood this week, so it’ll be up when it’s up. I know I said on my Twitter that that particular review will be at some point this week but that I wasn’t going to give a specific day in case I “lie” and skip it, but uh, yeah. It’ll go up when it goes up, like I said.

Anyway, because it’s Thanksgiving in the U.S. today, I wanted to do something fun, so I’m doing what only seems to be the most appropriate for this day: the Thanksgiving Book Tag. Now, I didn’t entirely come up with this idea on my own.  I was browsing the WordPress Reader and, almost immediately, I saw that Madison over at Madison’s Inkwell  did this tag, and something in my brain just clicked, like, “Oh! I’ll just do a tag instead of a short post wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! It’ll totally be more fun!”

So, here I am. Also, like Madison, I’m going to try to not use the same answers as in my previous book tags that I’ve done because I feel like I do that a lot, give the same answers over and over again. We’ll see how well I’ll do at this.

. . . . . .

1.  Bread—What book is purely fluff and has no real plot line?

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For me, this is an obvious answer. I very much enjoyed this series (except for Josh; he can get bent), but this first book is absolutely pure fluff. Which isn’t a bad thing, honestly. Sometimes you just need a good fluff piece to get you through the day, and being the hopeless romantic that I am, this checked off every box that I didn’t think needed to be checked.

2. Turkey—What book made you want to fall asleep?

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This is, honestly, the only book that puts me to sleep. So much so, that all three times I’ve tried to read it, I couldn’t get past the very first page without nodding off.

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3. Gravy—What book makes the whole series worth reading?

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I mean, it’s the only book from this series that I’ve read so far, but it’s what renewed my love for Greek mythology to the point where I can’t wait to continue the rest of the series next year.

4. Stuffing—What book is stuffed full of action scenes?

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I don’t talk a whole lot about this series for as much as I love it. This is the third book in the series that made me fall in love with the series as a whole back when it was only a trilogy (James Patterson has long since expanded it out to an unnecessary nine books that ruined everything, in my humble opinion). There’s action in the fact that the characters, these six bird kids, have to constantly be on the move, and no matter where they go, the villains always have a way to find them. It’s a fun series. I recommend the first three, definitely.

5. Mashed Potatoes—What book looked good and then wasn’t?

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Look. Any opportunity I get to say how much I hate this fucking book, I’m going to take it. If you’d like to see my full thoughts and haven’t already, I wrote a rant review about it here.

6. Cranberries—What book has the sweetest romance?

I’m cheating a little on this one because I can’t choose between Shirin and Ocean, or Ben and Arthur; both couples are just so sweet together, they’ll give you cavities.

7. Corn—What’s the corniest book you’ve ever read?

No book title or cover for this one, but probably any one of Debbie Macomber’s Christmas-y books that she puts out every year. They’re the sweet kind of corny, though. I’ll still read them because I know exactly what I’m going to get, and sometimes you just need a little corn in your life (along with fluff).

8. Green Beans—What book is too long and needs to be shortened?

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I know that I literally just used this book as an answer for another question, but honestly, it fits here, too. Half the shit in this book didn’t even need to be in there, and if it were left out, it wouldn’t be pushing 500 pages.

9. Pumpkin Pie—What book do you read to get out of a reading slump?

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I honestly have nothing to say, here.

10. Dog/Cat—What’s your favorite Thanksgiving food that you would steal from the table?

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Honestly? Nothing.
I love Thanksgiving food, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not passionate about it.
It is what it is.

. . . . . .

That does it for me and this Thanksgiving Book Tag! Hope you all enjoyed my answers as much as I kind of did giving them. Since I’ve been lacking in blog posts this week, I think I’m going to just take the rest of the week “off.” I’ll still be working on posts here and there, because I have a couple of blog tours coming up, but I also have a couple of books that need to be read for those tours, so that’s where a majority of my focus is going to be.

Anyway, happy reading!

If you’re from the U.S., have a safe and grateful Thanksgiving!

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