The Whimsical Mama

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Contemporary Beach Reading Recommendations June 30, 2016

I’ve always made it clear that I’m not that big of a contemporary fan. However, these are some great reads I highly recommend. I came up with my own selections after reading Jamie’s post. I also have featured non-fiction adult and non-contemporary young adult posts. Keep an eye out for my post with adult recommendations next week!

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  1. Open Road Summer by Emery Lord. Mary recommended this to me when Bloomsbury was looking to share this fantastic debut. Knowing I’m not a contemporary fan, she knows when there are books that I’ll enjoy. She hit a home run with this one! Emery is now on my auto-buy list. Review here.

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2. When We Collided by Emery Lord. I’m telling you, Emery is a fantastic author. Her books completely wrap you up and you don’t want to stop until you’re done reading.

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3. The Start of You and Me by Emery Lord. I will shamelessly plug Emery’s books forever! Review here.

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4. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Super quick and funny read! Review here.

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5. Rites of Passage by Joy N Hensley. Have you ever turned down a dare? What’s the most extreme dare you’ve ever done? Review here.

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6. 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen. Cute and funny debut! Review here.

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7. Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols. I love Middle Tennesse. It holds such a special place in my heart! Review here.

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8. Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols. Oh, marching band. I miss you like WHOA. Review here.

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9. Love Story by Jennifer Echols. Creative writing and horses = BLISS! Review here.

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10. Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson. Sheer brilliance! Review here.

All of these are light and quick reads. There are some heavy moments in them, but they’re all great beach reads!

 

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Waiting on Wednesday #47: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab June 29, 2016

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Waiting on Wednesday” is a weekly event hosted by Jill at the Breaking The Spine. It showcases upcoming releases we’re anticipating!

My pick of the week is:

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This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1)

By: Victoria Schwab

Coming: 5 July 2016

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Summary:
There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

Why I’m excited:

Victoria Schwab has secured her place on my automatic preorder/buy list, so it’s not surprising to find This Savage Song on my Waiting on Wednesday list. I’ve been intrigued by this book since Victoria started tweeting about her mysterious monster book. I’m always a glutton for a good fantasy, and it definitely sounds like This Savage Song will not disappoint!

Why I need you to be excited:

Victoria Schwab has proven time and again that she is a fantastic wordsmith. I’m super excited at the dawning of a new series by her and I think you should be too! I think this will be a very interesting book considering the world we live in where tragedies seem to be becoming a daily occurrence and it really feels like there are monsters all around us.

 

Top Ten Tuesday #93: Freebie (Summer TBR) June 28, 2016

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Each week, the girls over at The Broke and the Bookish think up a fun theme for the week and participating bloggers around the net join in. The theme for this week is:

Top Ten Books on My Summer TBR

Here’s what I’ve selected on previous TBR lists: Winter 2013 6/10 Fall 2013 3/10 Spring TBR 2014 6/11  Summer 2014 3/10 Fall 2014 2/10 Winter 2014 6/10 Spring 2015 5/10 Summer 2015 6/10 Fall 2015 6/10

This week is actually a freebie, but I decided I would share my Summer TBR since I haven’t shared one since back in the fall. Here’s hoping for a 10/10!

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  1. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas

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2. My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

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3. The Last Star by Rick Yancey

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4. Lois Lane Fallout by Gwenda Bond

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5. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

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6. And I Darken by Kiersten White

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7. This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

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8. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling, Jack Thorne, & John Tiffany

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9. DC SuperHero Girls: Finals Crisis by Shea Fontana

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10. Aftermath by Chuck Wendig

What are you planning on reading this summer?

 

Non-Fiction Beach Reading Recommendations June 27, 2016

Continuing on from my original post, which was inspired by Jamie’s post about beach reading recommendations, it got me to thinking about some other genres I would like to recommend. This week, I’m talking non-fiction. Though I love my YA, I do like to dabble in adult fiction and non-fiction. I have an adult fiction post planned as well.

Despite being non-fiction, these were all quick and engaging reads.

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  1. American Wife: Love, War, Faith, and Renewal by Taya Kyle. I blew through this book over Memorial Day weekend and my review will be coming up soon for full praises. Simply, Taya Kyle is the widow of Chris Kyle, known for writing American Sniper and his murder. Taya Kyle’s writing is fresh, painful, and like speaking with a friend. As a military wife, there was so much I could relate to, but also it was a fascinating read even if not connected to the military.

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2. The Wars of the Roses by Dan Jones. I actually was approved for this back when it was an ARC. I ended up finally getting around to reading it this past spring semester for a paper. Dan Jones writes in a spectacularly engaging way. If you have a chance to watch Great British Castles, (It’s on Netflix!) he’s the host. The way he presents the history of the castles is EXACTLY like his writing style. This was a very fascinating period in English history and I blew through this in one day!

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3. The Plantagenets by Dan Jones. I can’t remember if I was approved for this as an ARC, or I just discovered it after I was approved for The Wars of the Roses. Either way, I scored a finished copy in the clearance section at BooksAMillion. I also ended up reading it for class this semester too. It was a super fast read. I ended up reading about royals I didn’t need to cause it just flowed so well through the history of England that it keeps you engaged. There were some fascinating rulers of England!

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4. The Rival Queens by Nancy Goldstone. This seems to be a recurring theme with these! I read this for another class this last semester for a paper on Marguerite de Valois. She and her mother, Catherine de Medici were two incredible Renaissance women! There was only a section of this book relevant to my paper, but I ended up reading the whole book. The relationship between mother and daughter was extremely tumultuous and shaped the future of France.

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5. Memoirs of Marguerite de Valois by Marguerite de Valois Queen of Navarre. These memoirs of Marguerite de Valois could be very stretched truth, but she gives a very detailed account of the shenanigans of French court. If you watch Reign, Princess Claude is loosely based on Marguerite and yeah… she was known for getting around! I read this for a paper, and it was an eye opening experience haha.

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6. Marley and Me by John Grogan. Excluding the ending, which I don’t recommend reading in public without a box of tissues, this hysterical read is great for the beach. My Secret Sister, Juli sent it to me last summer when our dog first got sick with degenerative myelopathy and we were afraid we’d have to put her down. This was perfectly timed and  helped me come to peace with the thought of losing our furbaby.

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7. Perepolis by Marjane Satrapi. This non-fiction graphic novel set during the religious revolution in Iran is a page turner. The writing is witty and presents such a dangerous time in an easy to follow way.

 

Do you read non-fiction? What are some of your favourites?

 

Friday Feasts #3: Lasagna Baked Penne June 24, 2016

Another Friday Feasts is here! This week was another family pleaser which was a HUGE surprise! It was such a pleaser that Punk has asked for it again. Hopefully I’ll make it again soon. This is another HelloFresh recipe, and the full recipe can be found here.

I was a bit skeptical of this recipe when I opened the box and saw just how much kale was in the box. WHOA. A LOT of Kale. Honestly, I think I used about 1/4-1/3 of the kale cause I wasn’t sure how it would cook down. I think it was just enough.

I got caught up in the cooking process and didn’t take as many pictures of these steps as usual. I chopped the kale as small as I could before I added them into the casserole. I did get a bit heavy handed with the chili flakes. It was on the spicy side which is what made it so surprising that the kiddos DEVOURED their servings and asked for MORE. It was such a pleasant surprise. Punk did scrape off the meat, but he’s still in the if it’s not chicken, turkey, or some fish he won’t eat it.

This meal was incredibly easy to prepare and was more than enough for all four of us to eat plus leftovers! I didn’t add anything other than a can of mushrooms to the recipe this time. And… maaaaaaaaaybe some more garlic. Shhhhhh! This would be a perfect meal to prepare and freeze for a quick busy night meal. This has been one of my favourite boxes that we have gotten so far. I HIGHLY recommend the Lasagna Baked Penne!

Before baking, and after we chowed down! It smelled so good, we dug in immediately and I forgot to snap a plated picture! I still can’t get over how much the kiddos loved this recipe. Such a surprising family pleaser!

 

Waiting on Wednesday #46: And I Darken by Kiersten White June 22, 2016

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Waiting on Wednesday” is a weekly event hosted by Jill at the Breaking The Spine. It showcases upcoming releases we’re anticipating!

My pick of the week is:

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And I Darken (The Conqueror’s Saga

By: Kiersten White

Coming: 28 June 2016

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Summary:


NO ONE EXPECTS A PRINCESS TO BE BRUTAL.

And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

Why I’m excited:

Ha. Really? It’s historical. Gender bending Dracula? Yes, please! Also, it’s fantasy. GIVE IT TO ME NOW! I got so ridiculously excited when this book was announced. I don’t care if the vampire legend is pulled in or not. That will be an added bonus, but just the strict history of this is fascinating enough. I think it will be so incredible to take such a terrifying figure and transform him into an unsuspecting female role. Females can’t be vicious, right? Ha. WRONG. I would much rather get into a fight with a guy than a girl!

Why I need you to be excited:

Dracula. Enough said. I mean, really? Who doesn’t like the tale of Dracula? No? Well, skip this one then. You’ll regret it though. This. Is. Gonna. Be. AWESOME!

 

Top Ten Tuesday #92: Favourite 2016 Releases June 21, 2016

Filed under: Books,Top Ten Tuesday — Maura @ 12:01 am
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Each week, the girls over at The Broke and the Bookish think up a fun theme for the week and participating bloggers around the net join in. The theme for this week is:

Top Ten (More like six so far) Favourite 2016 Releases

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  1. The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh. Sequel to The Wrath and the Dawn.

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2. The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi. Standalone fantasy!

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3. The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski. Finale of The Winner’s Curse trilogy.

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4. When We Collided by Emery Lord. Contemporary standalone.

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5. The Mirror King by Jodi Meadows. Finale of The Orphan Queen duology.

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6. A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir. Finale of An Ember in the Ashes duology. Currently reading or recently finished.

I haven’t read them yet, but I know I will enjoy these 2016 releases!

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7. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas. Sequel to A Court of Thorns and Roses.

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8. My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows. I’m SO excited about this one! I know it’s gonna be great!

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9. The Last Star by Rick Yancey. The final book in The 5th Wave trilogy. I adored The 5th Wave, and I can’t wait to read the other two books! I think this will be what I take to the beach this year!

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10. A Gathering of Shadows by VE Schwab. Sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic. I’ve heard through the grapevine that this ends on an EPIC cliffhanger, so I’m currently waiting until A Conjuring of Light comes out to read books two and three at the same time! I HATE cliffhangers!

What have been your favourite 2016 reads so far this year? What are you looking forward to for the rest of the year?

 

Non-Contemporary Young Adult Beach Reads June 20, 2016

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When I read Jamie’s post about non-contemporary young adult beach reads, I knew it was the perfect post for me to share my own recommendations. I’m not the biggest fan of contemporary reads. I do recommend Emery Lord and Jennifer Echols though if you are looking for good contemporary authors.

These are all quick reads. They aren’t heavily detailed in world building (no Tolkien style writing here!) but the character development is great.

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  1. The Wrath and the Dawn is a delicious quick historical fantasy. This is a retelling of Arabian Nights and Renee Ahdieh is a brilliant story teller. Just make sure you take the sequel, The Rose and the Dagger, with you!

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2. The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a little heavier on the world building, but this trilogy is still a fantastic read. It’s always great to read about a badass girl who can take care of herself! Plus there’s a super steamy romance that’s perfect for beach reading. Don’t forget to take along The Winner’s Crime and The Winner’s Kiss.

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3. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare. In my opinion, The Infernal Devices is the superior series in Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter realm. On audio or physical reading, this trilogy is a fantastic quick binge.

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4. Legend by Marie Lu. This was actually a beach read for me a few summers ago. I devoured Legend and Prodigy at the beach and it left me panting for Champion. This dystopian is a brilliant page turner.

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5. A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano is a middle grade novel, but that doesn’t take anything away from its brilliance. I devoured this read in one sitting, even though it wasn’t at the beach, but at home. I do think this would be a quick beach read though!

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6. The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter. I’m always a glutton for a good read involving Greek mythology. This series by Aimee Carter is a super quick binge that’s light, dark, and romantic all in one!

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7. Die for Me by Amy Plum. A swoony Frenchman? Yes, please! I adore Paris, so even visiting through reading is great. Throw in relaxing by the ocean and it’s PERFECTION.

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8. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. While I still need to read the last book, this is a fantastic fantasy. Plus it’ll make you want to ditch the beach and head to Prague!

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9. Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz. Yep. Melissa de la Cruz’s drama filled series with fallen angels as vampires series makes the list. The fantasy aspect is light and almost contemporary in presentation, it makes it a great, light beachy read.

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10. Waterfell by Amalie Howard. Alien mermaids? Colour me intrigued! What makes this such a great read for the beach is that it takes place at the beach! This is a light world building fantasy as it mostly takes place in San Diego. The realm of Waterfell is a super interesting idea though. Make sure you have Oceanborn to read too!

What are some of your favourite non-contemporary beach reads? Keep an eye out the next few weeks for more beach reading recommendations!

 

 

Friday Feasts #2: Korean Style Beef Stir Fry June 17, 2016

Time for Friday Feasts again! This week’s recipe is another from HelloFresh. It’s Korean Style Beef Stir Fry. This recipe, which can be found here, was a little outside of our comfort zone which was fun! We stuck close to the recipe, but if we do cook it again, we’ll probably spice it up a bit and make it more of our own.

Again with this meal, I threw in the ground meat into the box with the rest of the ingredients. It’s just a matter of convenience for me so I just have to grab one thing when it comes time for dinner instead of digging around in the fridge.

I don’t think I’ve ever cooked with ginger or scallions before. Hubs and I also had never had broccolini. I personally think it tastes the same and is inconvenient cause I don’t like the stem part cooked or raw! I still think it’s so awesome that HelloFresh includes all the ingredients!

Steps of cooking! The HelloFresh recipes are easy and simple to follow. Occasionally there might be a missing minor step, but it’s usually pretty easy to figure out what you’re supposed to do! I love getting to cook with all the fresh ingredients. We usually try to stay on the fresh side, but sometimes it’s easier to grab the processed stuff. That’s what I love so much about HelloFresh! Fresh goodies right on hand with a simple click of the mouse.

We really enjoyed this meal. This is one that we didn’t try with the kiddos. We probably could’ve pulled out enough for them from ours, but they’re not too crazy about ethnic food that isn’t quesadillas or (plain) spaghetti! I spiced mine up with a bit of shrimp sauce after a few bites. It just needed a little something extra. I also didn’t use the full amount of ginger because I wasn’t sure how powerful of a taste it would be. Next time, I would use the full amount of ginger, add a bit more soy sauce, and definitely include the shrimp sauce! I would also switch to beef tips or chicken instead of ground beef. We’re not crazy about ground beef, we usually substitute ground deer, and even then it’s usually only in spaghetti. Ground meat just isn’t a favourite in our house! This was a good recipe though!

I always have a referral code to HelloFresh which takes $40 off of your first box! The code is:

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I also occasionally get some boxes that I get to give away for free. Keep an eye out on my Twitter (@armywife2310) for your chance to snag a free box! (New subscriptions only)

What do you think of the Korean Style Beef Stir Fry? Does it look like a recipe you would be willing to try?

 

Waiting on Wednesday #45: The Vanishing Throne by Elizabeth May June 15, 2016

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Waiting on Wednesday” is a weekly event hosted by Jill at the Breaking The Spine. It showcases upcoming releases we’re anticipating!

My pick of the week is:

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The Vanishing Throne (The Falconer Trilogy #2)

By: Elizabeth May

Coming: 21 June 2016 (US)/ 19 November 2015 (UK)

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Summary:

The second book in the Falconer trilogy is packed with surprises and suspense.

Aileana Kameron, the Falconer, disappeared through the portal that she was trying to close forever. Now she wakes up in the fae world, trapped and tortured by the evil Lonnrach. With the help of an unexpected ally, Aileana re-enters the human world, only to find everything irrevocably changed. Edinburgh has been destroyed, and the few human survivors are living in an uneasy truce with the fae, while both worlds are in danger of disappearing altogether. Aileana holds the key to saving both worlds, but in order to do so she must awaken her latent Falconer powers. And the price of doing that might be her life.

Rich with imaginative detail, action, fae lore, and romance, The Vanishing Throne is a thrilling sequel to The Falconer.

Why I’m excited:

I absolutely loved The Falconer when I read it. I featured it on Waiting on Wednesday and I have also posted a review. It was easily a favourite read of 2014. I was so excited about The Vanishing Throne and disappointed when the release dates were pushed back and so far apart as far as UK/US. It released back in November in the UK, but I just haven’t had a chance to get it yet. And with my lull in blogging and it coming out next week, I thought it would be the perfect feature! I can’t wait to do a reread and then read later this summer!

Why I need you to be excited:

I think this is as great under the radar fantasy. The Falconer was a quick read and though I hate them, it ended on a spectacular cliffhanger that leaves you panting for more! It’s going to be a fast paced ride of a second book!

 

 
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