Archive | May, 2013

BEA Hiatus

Hi all!

As you read this, I am probably wandering dazedly from room to room in my house. That’s my usual packing MO for the first six hours or so, and I’ll be especially dazed this time, because I’M PACKING FOR BEA!! My gosh, you guys. My nerdy little planner brain is going into overdrive. There are so many variables, so many possible outfits, so many outcomes, and it all has to fit in my Big Red Monster suitcase (and matching mini-me carry-on). Let’s just say that minimalist living is not my strong suit.

I’ll be leaving tomorrow afternoon and arriving in NYC sometime that evening. Wi-fi at the hotel and Javitz may be a little spotty, but I’ll try to check in with you all via Twitter. However, there will not be any blog posts this coming week.

I repeat: NO BLOG POSTS UNTIL I COME BACK FROM BEA.

I’m already working to get posts pre-written for after BEA, and I don’t want to stress by adding another week. Besides, BEA week is usually pretty chill around the blogosphere.

So if any of you happen to notice how quiet it is around here, don’t worry. I promise I’ll be back and bubbling over with good tidings for you all after June 3rd. If you’re going to BEA, send me an email or DM on Twitter with your phone number, and we’ll meet up! If you’re not going to BEA, definitely check out all the awesomesauce going down at Armchair BEA. You can also keep up with my adventures on Twitter, as I do my best to condense my over-the-top excitement to 140 characters. 🙂

I’ll see you all in a week!

Shelver506

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Rewind & Review (10)


Time for another weekly Rewind & Review! I hope this layout is working for you all. If you’d like me to change something, just let me know. I’m supremely flexible. 🙂

Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

It’s been a pretty quiet week, post-wise. I thought about doing a discussion post, but I was so pleasantly surprised by Rules that I didn’t want to wait another week to get the review out on the ‘net.

Stuff I Received

  • Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein (via NetGalley)
  • Shadow & Bone nail polish (from MacMillan and Dreamworks)

As you can see, it was a quiet week stuff-wise, too. With BEA just around the corner, I tried to avoid spending money on books. However, the things I DID get made me very, very happy. A round of thanks to NetGalley, Disney Hyperion, MacMillan, and Dreamworks! I’m so, so excited!

Miscellaneous Happenings

It’s been a big week, but next week’s going to be even bigger. BEA OR BUST IN TWO DAYS!!!

Anyways, that’s all for my week. How was yours?

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Review: THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING by Ashley Elston

She’s been six different people in six different places: Madeline in Ohio, Isabelle in Missouri, Olivia in Kentucky . . . But now that she’s been transplanted to rural Louisiana, she has decided that this fake identity will be her last.

Witness Protection has taken nearly everything from her. But for now, they’ve given her a new name, Megan Rose Jones, and a horrible hair color. For the past eight months, Meg has begged her father to answer one question: What on earth did he do – or see – that landed them in this god-awful mess? Meg has just about had it with all the Suits’ rules — and her dad’s silence. If he won’t help, it’s time she got some answers for herself.

But Meg isn’t counting on Ethan Landry, an adorable Louisiana farm boy who’s too smart for his own good. He knows Meg is hiding something big. And it just might get both of them killed. As they embark on a perilous journey to free her family once and for all, Meg discovers that there’s only one rule that really matters — survival.

Whether we bloggers like to admit it or not, we sometimes start a book with biases. It’s hard not to. I try to avoid reviews of books I know I’m going to read, but word gets around. I sort of stuck Rules on the backburner, because everything I’d heard or read about it had been tepid at best. I’ve had so many problems this year with uninspiring books, and I just couldn’t bring myself to pick it up, despite being thrilled to pieces when it first arrived in my mailbox.

In this case, I think my biases worked in my favor, for while Rules didn’t blow me away, I enjoyed myself much more than I thought possible.

I must say that I adored the way Ms. Elston decides to open the story. The main character and her family have been ripped from their beds in the middle of the night, moved to yet another location and forced to choose yet another identity. The main character chooses the name “Meg” after the Meg Ryan playing on the TV and her sister becomes Mary. The Witness Protection “suits” chop off their hair, dye it, hand Meg a pair of colored contacts, and give both girls their backstory. They are Meg and Mary Jones. They’re from Arkansas. They just moved to Louisiana with their parents. That’s all anyone really needs to know.

That’s all the surface stuff. What I loved was what was brewing underneath. Despite what we see in movies and on television. Witness Protection is not fun. It’s not an adventure or a game. Meg and her family didn’t lose their lives just once. Every time they move, they lose everything again and again and again. Homes. Jobs. Belongings. Hobbies. Schools. Friends. Boyfriends. Gone, again and again. At this, their sixth move, Meg has given up. She doesn’t care anymore. The only thing she focuses on is taking care of her little sister and in enacting The Plan.

The Plan is a two-pronged idea: Find out what Dad did to get them thrown into Witness Protection, and don’t make any connections at the new location. Unfortunately, Dad is a master evader, and Meg has caught the interest of drawly Southern farm boy, Ethan. Add in the catty cheerleader at school, her flirtatious boyfriend, and Meg’ powerful nightmares…

Well, you can probably see where this is going. And that’s okay. I didn’t expect a harrowing thriller from Rules, and I didn’t get one. Most of the twists are pretty straightforward, and the bad guy is immediately recognizable from the moment he steps on the page. This is not a book for anyone expecting mind-blowing revelations or anything too terribly deep. It’s a formulaic book, but there’s nothing wrong with that. More interestingly, Ms. Elston makes some choices within the confines of the formula that I found fascinating.

For instance, in the opening chapter, I love how she drives home how much Meg and her family have lost. Homes, jobs, and even friends can be replaced in time. But Meg and Mary have lost two irreplaceable things: their security and their identities. At any point, Meg and her family could be killed, but she doesn’t know by whom or why. They can’t even talk about their old life. Literally all Meg and Mary still retain from their old lives are their nicknames: Sissy and Teeny Tiny. Even those would be taken away if “the suits” found out.

I also love who Meg was before being taken away. She wasn’t the bland everygirl one might expect in such a story. Well, she is now, but before Witness Protection engulfed them, she had been a rich, somewhat spoiled Mean Girl. I was totally not expecting that, and I loved the little twist on my expectations. Such a background also means she isn’t taken in by the shenanigans of local Mean Girl Emma and her flirtatious boyfriend Ben.

Some people might claim there’s a love triangle in Rules, as both Ethan and Ben show a marked interest in Meg, but there really isn’t. Ethan is interested in Meg. Meg is kinda interested in Ethan, despite The Plan. Ben isn’t interested in Meg, but just wants to make Emma jealous. Meg knows and isn’t interested in Ben anyways. It’s all very neat, and I loved that Meg wasn’t pulled into Ben’s games.

Oh! And let’s talk about Ethan. Love that boy. Though through-and-through a Louisiana farmboy, Ethan isn’t portrayed as a hick or a yokel, which I adore. Don’t get me wrong, he still does typical “redneck” activities like hog hunting and plowing and fishing, but Ms. Elston avoids typecasting, which is lovely. He’s also a genuinely sweet person, caring for Meg and Mary as people instead of as a “mysterious and therefore desirable new girl” and “her kid sister.” And while the two of them get along suspiciously well, I do appreciate the attempts Ms. Elston made to make their connection a little less extraordinary. For instance, how many times have you read where the couple in question magically share the same taste in music? All the freaking time. Here, Ethan dislikes most of Meg’s favorite bands, but he makes her a CD anyways, because he knows she’ll appreciate it. Sweet, huh?

When I Tumbl’d “farm boy,” this came up.
I’ll just leave this here…

Since I had my priorities and expectations in order before starting Rules, I didn’t face many of the disappointments encountered by other readers. Instead, I’m left with only two major gripes. The first is the stupid choices made by Meg and, to some extent, Ethan. Let’s just say that their plan in the latter fourth of the book made very little sense to me.

The second is the ending. Again, I can’t say much, but I was not pleased. It was all very deus ex machina, came out of nowhere, lacked an emotional punch, and was just overall confusing. I assume it’s setting the book up for maybe a companion novel (not a sequel, hopefully) down the line, but I thought it was all very lame.

Anyways, the moral of this review is that we all have biases. Sometimes those biases can be a good thing, because they temper expectations and allow you to be surprised. The main thing is not to let those biases get in the way, or you might miss a great story. So, with that in mind, I suggest you all check out The Rules for Disappearing. You may like what you find.

Points Added For: Ethan, Teeny, the emotional impact of being ripped from one’s home.

Points Subtracted For: All the loose ends, that weird ending, strange character choices.

Good For Fans Of: Sweet romances, great sister moments, what I suppose could be called Thriller/Mystery Lite.

Notes For Parents: Language, making out, underage drinking.

Note: I received an ARC of this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

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Cover Love #29

A SHATTERED EMPIRE
The mad Shōgun Yoritomo has been assassinated by the Stormdancer Yukiko, and the threat of civil war looms over the Shima Imperium. The Lotus Guild conspires to renew the nation’s broken dynasty and crush the growing rebellion simultaneously – by endorsing a new Shōgun who desires nothing more than to see Yukiko dead.

A DARK LEGACY
Yukiko and the mighty thunder tiger Buruu have been cast in the role of heroes by the Kagé
rebellion. But Yukiko herself is blinded by rage over her father’s death, and her ability to hear the thoughts of beasts is swelling beyond her power to control. Along with Buruu, Yukiko’s anchor is Kin, the rebel Guildsman who helped her escape from Yoritomo’s clutches. But Kin has his own secrets, and is haunted by visions of a future he’d rather die than see realized.

A GATHERING STORM
Kagé assassins lurk within the Shōgun’s palace, plotting to end the new dynasty before it begins.
A waif from Kigen’s gutters begins a friendship that could undo the entire empire. A new enemy gathers its strength, readying to push the fracturing Shima imperium into a war it cannot hope to survive. And across raging oceans, amongst islands of black glass, Yukiko and Buruu will face foes no katana or talon can defeat.

The ghosts of a blood-stained past.

Look at that cover, you guys. LOOK AT IT! I didn’t know if the designers could top Stormdancer, BUT THEY HAVE. 
First of all, can we talk about the colors? Whereas Stormdancer was really playing up the blood-red motif, Kinslayer is dark and sinister, but it keeps the creepy splashes of red in Yukiko’s clothing. And wowza, Yukiko! That girl looks ready to wreak some serious havoc. I love it when a cover model is rough and tumble, rather than sleek and shiny.
But the best part, in my opinion, is that background. WOW. WOW WOW WOW. Buruu looks positively vicious, and guys, he’s fighting a sea monster! A SEA MONSTER! I have a feeling that particular beastie will haunt me in my sleep. As scared as I am to face the inevitable trauma awaiting me in Kinslayer, I am super-excited as well. What a cover. WHAT A COVER!
What do you think of the Kinslayer cover? And what cover are you loving this week?
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Top 10 Tuesday – Fave Book Covers Of Books I’ve Read

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Today’s TTT topic is favorite book covers. Thankfully, the gals at TB&tB narrow it down to favorite book covers of books I’ve actually read, or we’d all be in big trouble. Even still, this was a hard week for me. So many choices! Below are the ten books I’ve chosen. I’ve tried to keep explanations to a minimum. Also, if you like this sort of thing, be sure to check out my bi-weekly meme, Cover Love!

Even prettier in person, my lands!
Technically not a good fit for the story itself, but still gorgeous
Captures the tone perfectly, and Will is so hot.
!!!!
All the covers in this series could have been chosen, but this one’s best
Perfection
The weight, the solemnity, the threat… It’s all perfect
Sinister and intriguing
She’s coming to EAT ME!!
Breathtaking and exotic

Well, that’s all for me. What do you think of these covers, and what covers would you add?

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Review: WILD AWAKE by Hilary T. Smith

Things you earnestly believe will happen while your parents are away:

1. You will remember to water the azaleas.
2. You will take detailed, accurate messages.
3. You will call your older brother, Denny, if even the slightest thing goes wrong.
4. You and your best friend/bandmate Lukas will win Battle of the Bands.
5. Amid the thrill of victory, Lukas will finally realize you are the girl of his dreams.

Things that actually happen:

1. A stranger calls who says he knew your sister.
2. He says he has her stuff.
3. What stuff? Her stuff.
4. You tell him your parents won’t be able to—
5. Sukey died five years ago; can’t he—
6. You pick up a pen.
7. You scribble down the address.
8. You get on your bike and go.
9. Things . . . get a little crazy after that.*
*also, you fall in love, but not with Lukas.

Both exhilarating and wrenching, Hilary T. Smith’s debut novel captures the messy glory of being alive, as seventeen-year-old Kiri Byrd discovers love, loss, chaos, and murder woven into a summer of music, madness, piercing heartbreak, and intoxicating joy.

Once again, I find myself not being entirely sure what to say about a book. As such, this will probably be a short review, though not entirely in a bad way, as is sometimes the case.
Continue Reading →

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Rewind & Review (9)


Here we are at the second weekly Rewind & Review EVER. I hope you all are liking this new timing better. It’s certainly a lot easier on me. So yes, check out the stuff that happened over the last week. I went a little review-wild (for me, anyways), and my discussion post at the end of the week got some GREAT comments, so be sure to chime in.

Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

I had a GREAT stuff week this week. My very first Better World Books package arrived this week and brought with it two Ally Carter hardcovers and two highly recommended books – all for $20! Also, Disney and MacMillan tag-teamed to make my review stack nice and sparkly this week. Preeeetty.

Stuff I Bought

  • Sabriel by Garth Nix
  • The Winter Prince by Elizabeth Wein
  • Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter
  • Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter


Stuff I Received

  • Alienated by Melissa Landers (from the publisher)
  • An exclusive nine-chapter excerpt of United We Spy by Ally Carter (from the publisher)
  • Tumble & Fall by Alexandra Coutts (Edelweiss)

A big thanks to Better World Books, Disney Hyperion, and MacMillan for my pretties!

This week, I tried to be more cognizant of interesting things floating about on the interwebs. This is by no means a conclusive list, but rather a collection of little things that caught my attention, as well as a few personal notes. Enjoy!

Miscellaneous Happenings

Well, that’s my week! If you all have any wrap-up posts of your own, be sure to link up at the top of the page. Also, I’d love to hear all about your week in the comment, so say hello. 🙂

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Author Behavior

A lot has been made about proper and improper author behavior. A lot is being said, and I’m sure the talk will continue for as long as there are authors to talk about. It seems like every week, some author is getting himself or herself in a jam.

Given my area of the universe, I most often hear about authors behaving badly when it comes to negative reviews. There is story after story after story of authors flipping out when their “baby” (their book, not their actual child) is received negatively by reviewers and bloggers.

Posts after post has been written about this subject. Advice has been given by people much wiser than I. Yet authors continue to make dumb choices, and to be honest, I understand why. They’re people. They’re people with feelings and egos just like the rest of us, and some of them simply don’t consider the fact that when they send their books off to be published it is no longer merely their “baby.”

But I don’t want to rehash all that. Anyone wishing to know how to deal with negative criticism need merely conduct a simple Google search. The advice is out there. Instead, I want to talk about good author behavior and how it has affected me.

I am very fortunate in that I have yet to meet a bad author. I know many of my blogger friends are not so lucky, which makes me all the more grateful. Every author I have interacted with has been, at the very least, professional and polite, while many go above and beyond that simple benchmark.

I was thinking extra-hard about this topic last week as I drove home from the library. With BEA coming up and review copies eyeing me balefully from every corner of my room, I don’t really have time to go requesting extra books from the library, but for these two books I made an exception.

Many of my favorite authors will attend BEA at the end of May, and I sincerely long to meet them all. Also attending are Claire LeGrand and Susan Dennard. Ms. LeGrand is responsible for The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, a delightfully squeamish MG, and Ms. Dennard is responsible for Something Strange & Deadly, a historical YA zombie tale. If you fail to see how this ties into author behavior, just hang on for a minute.

I shouldn’t have time to read an MG. I am primarily a YA blogger. I also shouldn’t have time to read a zombie YA, as this particular book is one I tried to read over a year ago and stopped, as I was in a funk and couldn’t click with the book. But for over a year now, I have followed and interacted with both Ms. LeGrand and Ms. Dennard on Twitter. Though I am just a floating pair of glasses and had not read either of their books, they are both unfailingly polite, personable, and accessible. I have watched, and both have handled their criticisms (both good and bad) with aplomb. No blow-ups, no freak-outs, no tirades.

Good author behavior barely makes a blip on anyone’s radar, as it is not nearly as sensational as bad author behavior. Good author behavior is also what is expected. It’s like applauding someone for washing their hands before dinner. Washing your hands before eating isn’t something out of the ordinary.You just do it. And yet when a person is conscientious, professional, and polite, people notice. I notice. Good author behavior has gained both Ms. Dennard and Ms. LeGrand a personal fan, and I hope to soon upgrade my status to a rabid, book-buying fan. In fact, this last weekend I read Cavendish specifically because I like Ms. LeGrand, and I ADORED the book.

In the same way, I interact with both Jessica Khoury and Amy Tintera. Both are debut authors. Both have written books that I’ve read and reviewed (Origin and Reboot, respectively). Unfortunately, I disliked/failed to connect with both books. They weren’t awful books, but I didn’t enjoy myself and don’t really plan to read either book again. However, when Ms. Khoury and Ms. Tintera inevitably come out with other books, I will at least feel a spark of interest. Why? Good author behavior. Both ladies are – again – polite, personable, and accessible. To my knowledge, neither are drama queens nor prone to tirades or pity parties (at least not in public). I associate only good things with both their names, and as authors, their names are their brands. As such, I will be more likely to pay attention to their books and talk up their work to my customers, my followers, and my friends.

Good author behavior impacts the bottom line. I’m not saying an author has to be my bestie for me to check out his or her books. However, authors who put themselves out there and unfailingly show their best side to the world will gain a larger following as a result. It doesn’t matter how good a book is. If I hear that an author is pulling shenanigans, I won’t waste my time or money supporting their endeavors.

So authors, treat people as you would like to be treated, both in person and online. And fellow readers, be sure to celebrate good author behavior. Like well-behaved children, our well-behaved authors plug away and watch as the spotlight passes by to shine (however harshly) on their more diabolical counterparts. If you know an author deserving of a friendly pat on the back, perhaps this is the week to do so. In fact, you can start right here.

If you know of an author that has influenced your reading/buying/following habits with their behavior, tell me in the comments!

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2-for-1 Review: POISON STUDY and FURIOUS

Furious by Jill Wolfson 

Three high school girls become the avenging Furies of Greek legend.

We were only three angry girls, to begin with. Alix, the hot-tempered surfer chick; Stephanie, the tree-hugging activist; and me, Meg, the quiet foster kid, the one who never quite fit in. We hardly knew each other, but each of us nurtured a burning anger: at the jerks in our class, at our disappointing parents, at the whole flawed, unjust world.

We were only three angry girls, simmering uselessly in our ocean-side California town, until one day a mysterious, beautiful classmate named Ambrosia taught us what else we could be: Powerful. Deadly. Furious.

With its unnecessary prologue and stereotypical evil foster mom, Furious almost lost me in the very beginning. Fortunately, I did stick around and finish the book. Objectively, what I found was an interesting philosophical study. Subjectively… well, I’ll get to that in a second.

What is true justice? Is it the eye-for-an-eye practice of ancient times? Is it the more benevolent justice refined by acts of forgiveness and mercy? How is justice enacted? Who enacts it? It’s an interesting puzzle, if a bit muddled in the climax. Ms. Wolfson does a fabulous job of showing the seductive nature of vengeance. At first, vengeance feels right. It might even create something good. Attractive and addictive, the desire for revenge makes the justice-seeker feel powerful and in control. But instead, those who hunger for revenge are no more in charge than a junkie seeking her next fix.

So yes, from a philosophical standpoint, Furious was interesting. However, despite Ms. Wolfson’s best efforts, I found I didn’t care about the fates of the girls or their victims. I never connected with Meg, and I certainly had nothing in common with vindictive tree-hugger Stephanie or pugilistic surfer Alix. It is for this reason that I have very little to say in this review. However, I urge you all to try it for yourself, for I suspect the story and the characters will connect with you much better than they did with me.

Note: I received a physical ARC of Furious from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She’ll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.

And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly’s Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.

As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can’t control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear…

Another short review, this time for a story with wasted potential that made me so very angry. The synopsis sounded incredibly promising, and I know many people across the blogosphere who adore Yelena’s story. I was not one of them.

It’s so sad. I wanted to join in the magic with everyone else, and at the beginning, I thought I would be able to. The opening of Poison Study was very reminiscent of that of The Thief, one of my favorite books. I also thought the world presented was fascinating. Though a fantasy kingdom, Ixia reads more like a dystopian regime. It is split into numbered military districts and ruled by the all-powerful Commander. However, unlike most dystopian realms, the Commander instills values that we as readers know we should applaud. In Ixia, laws are unbending no matter the circumstances involved, but that also means that bribes and nepotism are unheard of. Gender equality is also strongly encouraged.

My issues, I think, boil down to three main problems. First, I did not connect with Yelena as well as I would have liked. I found her to be inconsistent and almost colorless in places. I also found myself unmoved by the romance presented (though, to be honest, I’m hoping a reread very far in the future may help with that.)

Second, while there were unique aspects within the story, they did not combine to form a story that was unique overall. I was bored. I knew where everything was headed. And even when something did surprise me (hello, Commander tidbit), the surprise lasted only a moment before I was bored again. The stilted dialogue peppered throughout certainly didn’t help matters.

Third, and this is the biggie, I was shocked and bothered by the amount of sexual violence present. While I understand that sexual violence must sometimes be tolerated in a book, especially when used as social commentary, that was not the case in Poison Study. It felt like Yelena was being cornered, attacked, assaulted, or otherwise threatened at every turn, past the point of usefulness and well into gratuitousness. I was disgusted and bored.

Once again, many readers disagree with me, so go ahead and check it out for yourself. However, I doubt this one will ever worm its way into my heart.

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

6

Wishlist Wednesday #28

Hosted by Pen to Paper

In addition to the P-38, there are four gifts, one for each of my friends. I want to say good-bye to them properly. I want to give them each something to remember me by. To let them know I really cared about them and I’m sorry I couldn’t be more than I was—that I couldn’t stick around—and that what’s going to happen today isn’t their fault.

Today is Leonard Peacock’s birthday. It is also the day he hides a gun in his backpack. Because today is the day he will kill his former best friend, and then himself, with his grandfather’s P-38 pistol.

But first he must say good-bye to the four people who matter most to him: his Humphrey Bogart-obsessed next-door neighbor, Walt; his classmate Baback, a violin virtuoso; Lauren, the Christian homeschooler he has a crush on; and Herr Silverman, who teaches the high school’s class on the Holocaust. Speaking to each in turn, Leonard slowly reveals his secrets as the hours tick by and the moment of truth approaches.

In this riveting book, acclaimed author Matthew Quick unflinchingly examines the impossible choices that must be made—and the light in us all that never goes out.

Not gonna lie, this one makes me very, very nervous. It’s one thing to follow the story of a boy who ultimately commits suicide. That’s sad, but somehow bearable. Following the story of a boy planning a murder-suicide, however, is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish.

And yet, I’m still interested. I want to know what happens. I want to know what the secrets are. I want to know why the title addresses Leonard despite the book being from Leonard’s point of view. I wanna know! And I want to see how Mr. Quick portrays Lauren, the Christian homeschooler. As a Christian who was homeschooled, I’m a stickler about that sort of thing.

What do you think about this book? And what are you wishing for this week?

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