Book Reviews

Review: Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle

30079439Summary: If you’re not careful, you can spend your whole life looking for what you’ve lost.

One stormy summer in a small Irish town, things begin to disappear. It starts with trivial stuff—hair clips, house keys, socks—but soon it escalates to bigger things: a memory, a heart, a classmate.

Olive can tell that her best friend, Rose, is different all of a sudden. Rose isn’t talking, and Olive starts to worry she’s losing her. Then diary pages written by someone named Laurel begin to appear all over town. And Olive meets three mysterious strangers: Ivy, Hazel, and her twin brother, Rowan, secretly squatting in an abandoned housing development. The trio are wild and alluring, but they seem lost too—and like Rose, they’re holding tightly to painful secrets.

When a tattered handwritten spellbook falls into the lives of these six teenagers, it changes everything. The spellbook is full of charms to conjure back that which has been lost, and it lists a part for each of them to play in the calling. It might be their best chance to set everything back to rights, but only if they’re willing to pay the price.

My Thoughts: I was totally absorbed in this book.  The writing style was beautiful and mysterious, just like the story itself, and the unique voices of the characters helped the mystery of the plot unfold in a stunning and completely engaging way.  The characters were super diverse and all of them had their own quirks and strong personalities.  I loved that there were LGBT characters, but that it wasn’t the focus of the story.  It was just who they were, which I felt was refreshing in a YA novel.  The weaving of all the different perspectives was very effective in telling and unraveling the story.  I thought the pacing was fantastic and the twist was satisfying, even though I kind of called part of what was happening.  The only thing keeping me from giving this book a full five stars, was that at times I felt that the actual spell and how it worked was a tad bit confusing, but I still really loved the concept of it.  I wish we could have gotten a better explanation about Jude and who he was, but I guess that is just part of the mystery of the spell.  The whole vibe of the book was spooky and yet seductive at the same time.  A perfect fall read.

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Tags

Fall Book Tag

It took long enough, but it is FINALLY starting to feel like Fall here this week in NYC.  I thought it was the perfect time to do the Fall Book Tag created by Bionic Book Worm!  Make sure you check out her blog too because it’s fabulous!


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I chose The Royal Runaway by Lindsay Emory because I have never read anything like it.  It was a princess-spy novel, and I thought the whole concept was super clever and original.

 

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Jaw on the FLOOR.  I was dead at the end of this book.  I can’t believe I have to wait so long for the next one now, because my mind is still reeling from that ending.

 

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I just LOVED this book.  I’m super close to my family, so it gave me the warm fuzzies to read about such a fun and tight knit fam.  The writing was very relatable and just made me happy.

 

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I’m obsessed with The Sookie Stackhouse books.  This one has all the colors and is a perfect “spooky” fall read.

 

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This series is the epitome of non-stop action.  My heart was racing the ENTIRE time, through all three books.  Such an incredible concept and brilliant execution.

 

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I love Anna Godbersen, and her Luxe Series is one of my all time favorites.  When I saw she was coming out with another book in the same time period, I freaked out.  This one is next on my TBR and I am so pumped.

 

I tag anyone who loves a good pumpkin spice latte ❤
Book Reviews

Review: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

34499221Summary: Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?


My Thoughts: This book has been on my radar for so long, and I finally got my hands on it.  There was a lot of hype surrounding this one, and I’m happy to say that it lived up to it.  I was drawn into the story immediately, as Christo built the world in such an immersive way.  Each kingdom was painted in a beautiful and detailed picture, regardless of how much time we spent there.  Learning the politics of the world was interesting, and I would love to have more time in each setting.  Her use of sirens was something that I have little experience with, so I was completely open to the concept and to how their abilities worked.  There were definitely hints of The Little Mermaid, while still holding its own as a completely new story.  Lira was a very interesting and unconventional heroine.  I had no idea what to expect, and couldn’t wait to see what her journey was going to be.  I loved how dark these sirens were, and Lira’s internal conflict made for an intriguing plot and built up a complicated main character.  I absolutely loved Prince Elian and his pirate crew.  Each member of the crew was well developed and their banter was always entertaining.  Elian was definitely swoon-worthy, and I really enjoyed seeing his relationship Lira develop; however, I wanted a little more chemistry between them.  There was definitely an undercurrent of it, but I could have used a bit more sexual tension.  Overall, I really enjoyed this book.  It was exciting, had a strong world, some great characters, and was a super unique story with elements of a beloved classic.  What more could you ask for?

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Book Reviews

ARC Netgalley Review: The Royal Runaway by Lindsay Emory

38532225Summary: For fans of The Princess Diaries and The Royal We comes a fun and daring novel about a modern-day princess who teams up with a spy to find out what happened to the fiancé who left her at the altar—and who just might get her own fairytale in the process.

Princess Theodora Isabella Victoria of Drieden of the Royal House Laurent is so over this princess thing.

After her fiancé jilted her on their wedding day, she’s finally back home after spending four months in exile—aka it’s back to press conferences, public appearances, and putting on a show for the Driedish nation as the perfect princess they expect her to be. But Thea’s sick of duty. After all, that’s what got her into this mess in the first place.

So when she sneaks out of the palace and meets a sexy Scot named Nick in a local bar, she relishes the chance to be a normal woman for a change. But just as she thinks she’s found her Prince Charming for the night, he reveals his intentions are less than honorable: he’s the brother of her former fiancé, a British spy, and he’s not above blackmail. As Thea reluctantly joins forces with Nick to find out what happened the day her fiancé disappeared, together they discover a secret that could destroy a centuries-old monarchy and change life as they know it.

Funny, fast-paced, and full of more twists and turns than the castle Thea lives in, The Royal Runaway is a fresh romantic comedy that will leave you cheering for the modern-day royal who chucks the rulebook aside to create her own happily-ever-after.


*I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley in return for an honest review!*

My Thoughts:  This book caught my eye on Netgalley with “Fans of Princess Diaries,” and it did not disappoint.  I fell in love with Princess Theodora’s feisty demeanor and confidence.  She was raised to be a princess and she is unapologetic of that fact, but she was she was still very relatable.  I absolutely loved her relationship with Nick, and they had great, undeniable, swoon-worthy chemistry.  The development of their relationship was gradual and believable, and  I was rooting for them the entire time.  The world building was fantastic, including a full and well-planned history of the country, Drieden.  It was a seamless addition to the world as we know it, and I wish it was a place I could actually visit.  The plot is super quick and definitely delivered on the promised twists and turns.  I’m not generally a spy novel person, but I really enjoyed the story of this one.  I never knew who to trust and it kept me guessing until the end.  The reveals were timed and spaced out well, keeping the pace and energy up.  There was plenty of action and I loved that it never got too dark.  They were dealing with some pretty heavy stuff at times, but it never got dragged down.  I think the idea of a romantic comedy/spy novel is really clever and original, and this one just worked.  It was an incredibly enjoyable read, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a fun royal adventure.

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Tags

Get to Know You YA Tag

a baby shower for amelia

I found this tag on Thrice Read, and I thought it looked like fun.

Favorite book of all time?

I mean, not including Harry Potter, I’d have to say Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.

Favorite book five years ago?

Still Pillars of the Earth.

Favorite duology/trilogy/series?

Harry Potter, The Kingsbridge books by Ken Follett, and The Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot.

Last book you read?

The Royal Runaway by Lindsay Emory.  I really loved it.  Review coming soon!

Last book of poetry you read?

Ummmm….. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein? I don’t really read poetry.

What book most influenced your life?

Most recently, You are A Badass by Jen Sincero.  It really helps me keep my mind focused and positive in a difficult business.

Book that made you ugly cry?

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah.  Really, anything by Kristin Hannah.

Book that made you laugh?

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell.  It has quickly become one of my favorite books and I think the world of magic is both incredibly clever and hilarious.

Character you’d like to be for a day?

Random Hogwarts student number 17.  Just get me there.  Or Blair Waldorf.

Book so good you dreamt about it?

Harry Potter.  Multiple times.

Book you DNFd?

The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  It still hurts me to admit it, but I just couldn’t get through it.  There is a chance I’ll give it another try someday, but for the foreseeable future it’s a no-go.

What book are you most excited to read?

SO MANY.  How do I even answer this question!?  I guess right now, I’d have to say The Towering Sky by Katharine McGee.  I love this series, and I can’t wait to find out how it ends.

Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: The Longest Books I’ve Ever Read

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I love big books.  I love being able to dive into a huge adventure knowing that I’ll get to live there for a while.  This week’s theme from That Artsy Reader Girl is The Longest Books I’ve Ever Read.  I have read a lot of really long books (most of them written by my man Ken Follett), so there might be some that I am forgetting.  I got the page count from Goodreads, so depending on the version you might have to give or take a few pages.  Here are the longest books that I’ve read in descending order:

The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon (Outlander #5)

1,443 pages

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The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss (The Kingkiller Chronicles #2)

1,037 pages

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Edge of Eternity by Ken Follett (The Century Trilogy #3)

1,098 pages

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The Witching Hour by Anne Rice

1,038 pages

119089


Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

1,037 pages

18405


World Without End by Ken Follett

1,014 pages

5064


Fall of Giants by Ken Follett

985 pages

7315573


Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

973 pages

5043


Winter of the World by Ken Follett

940 pages

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Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

936 pages

33600


What is the longest book you have ever read?  Have you read any of mine?  Do you prefer longer or shorter books? Let me know in the comments! 🙂
Book Reviews · Reading Challenges

Netgalley Review: Toil & Trouble edited by Jessica Spotswood and Tess Sharpe

36426163Summary:  A young adult fiction anthology of 15 stories featuring contemporary, historical, and futuristic stories featuring witchy heroines who are diverse in race, class, sexuality, religion, geography, and era.

Are you a good witch or a bad witch?

Glinda the Good Witch. Elphaba the Wicked Witch. Willow. Sabrina. Gemma Doyle. The Mayfair Witches. Ursula the Sea Witch. Morgan le Fey. The three weird sisters from Macbeth.

History tells us women accused of witchcraft were often outsiders: educated, independent, unmarried, unwilling to fall in line with traditional societal expectations.

Bold. Powerful. Rebellious.

A bruja’s traditional love spell has unexpected results. A witch’s healing hands begin to take life instead of giving it when she ignores her attraction to a fellow witch. In a terrifying future, women are captured by a cabal of men crying witchcraft and the one true witch among them must fight to free them all. In a desolate past, three orphaned sisters prophesize for a murderous king. Somewhere in the present, a teen girl just wants to kiss a boy without causing a hurricane.

From good witches to bad witches, to witches who are a bit of both, this is an anthology of diverse witchy tales from a collection of diverse, feminist authors. The collective strength of women working together—magically or mundanely–has long frightened society, to the point that women’s rights are challenged, legislated against, and denied all over the world. Toil & Trouble delves deep into the truly diverse mythology of witchcraft from many cultures and feminist points of view, to create modern and unique tales of witchery that have yet to be explored.

My Thoughts: What a cool book.  As everyone knows, I love witches, so I snapped up the chance to read this collection of short witchy stories as soon as I saw it on Netgalley.  It is a collection of 15 short stories, all written by different women, involving magic, witches, and femininity.  The most amazing thing about this collection is the diversity.  Every story is vastly different from the one before, including the characters, writing styles, forms of magic, concepts, etc.  We got so much variety, and yet they all worked well together as a cohesive collection.  There were definitely some stories that I enjoyed and connected to more than others, but I think there is truly something for everyone in this collection.  My favorite stories were “The Gherin Girls” by Emery Lord, “Beware of the Girls With Crooked Mouths” by Jessica Spotswood, and “Why They Watch Us Burn” by Elizabeth May.  “Beware of the Girls With Crooked Mouths” was so captivating, and I loved the system of magic and the plot of the story.  I could have easily read (and want) an expansion of this story into a novel.  “The Gherin Girls” I loved because of the sisterly relationship (I really connected to these characters) and the subtle, yet well developed magic in it.  “Why They Watch Us Burn” was an incredible way to end the anthology.  It was completely haunting, terrifying, and scarily relevant.  I rated each story with a star rating and then averaged them to get my overall rating for the collection and it came out to a solid THREE STARS, but some of these stories are worth so much more to me.  There was a quote from “Why They Watch Us Burn” that really resonated with me, and I’m sure will with a lot of women.  “The most terrifying thing in the world is a girl with power.  That’s why they watch us burn.”

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Reading Challenges · Tags

Cleaning Up My TBR: Down the TBR Hole #4

I joined Goodreads a few years ago, way before I started blogging, so my profile is kind of a mess.  I really want to clean it up so I can make better use of it.  I thought what a better way to do that than to join the Down the TBR Hole meme started by Lia @Lost In a Story! I am going to do it once a month instead of weekly, and hopefully make my Goodreads a pleasant place to be again. 🙂

Here is how it works:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

Down the TBR Hole #4

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy 151

Acclaimed by many as the world’s greatest novel, Anna Kareninaprovides a vast panorama of contemporary life in Russia and of humanity in general. In it Tolstoy uses his intense imaginative insight to create some of the most memorable characters in literature. Anna is a sophisticated woman who abandons her empty existence as the wife of Karenin and turns to Count Vronsky to fulfil her passionate nature – with tragic consequences. Levin is a reflection of Tolstoy himself, often expressing the author’s own views and convictions.

Throughout, Tolstoy points no moral, merely inviting us not to judge but to watch. As Rosemary Edmonds comments, ‘He leaves the shifting patterns of the kaleidoscope to bring home the meaning of the brooding words following the title, ‘Vengeance is mine, and I will repay.

My Thoughts: This one is actually on my TBR for this year, and I have wanted to read it for so long.  This one was easy for me.  Verdict: KEEP


128029A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

A Thousand Splendid Suns is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan’s last thirty years—from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to post-Taliban rebuilding—that puts the violence, fear, hope, and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives—the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness—are inextricable from the history playing out around them.

Propelled by the same storytelling instinct that made The Kite Runner a beloved classic, A Thousand Splendid Suns is at once a remarkable chronicle of three decades of Afghan history and a deeply moving account of family and friendship. It is a striking, heart-wrenching novel of an unforgiving time, an unlikely friendship, and an indestructible love—a stunning accomplishment.

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed The Kite Runner, but for some reason I really don’t have any desire to continue on with A Thousand Splendid Suns… I know I would probably like it if I read it, but there are so many other books that are going to take priority. Verdict: TOSS


Life of Pi by Yann Martel4214

Life of Pi is a fantasy adventure novel by Yann Martel published in 2001. The protagonist, Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel, a Tamil boy from Pondicherry, explores issues of spirituality and practicality from an early age. He survives 227 days after a shipwreck while stranded on a boat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

My Thoughts: I added this because everyone seems to love it, but to be honest I’m just not that interested in reading it.  Verdict: TOSS


1103Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

In nineteenth-century China, in a remote Hunan county, a girl named Lily, at the tender age of seven, is paired with a laotong, “old same,” in an emotional match that will last a lifetime. The laotong, Snow Flower, introduces herself by sending Lily a silk fan on which she’s painted a poem in nu shu, a unique language that Chinese women created in order to communicate in secret, away from the influence of men.

As the years pass, Lily and Snow Flower send messages on fans, compose stories on handkerchiefs, reaching out of isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments. Together, they endure the agony of foot-binding, and reflect upon their arranged marriages, shared loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood. The two find solace, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive. But when a misunderstanding arises, their deep friendship suddenly threatens to tear apart.

My Thoughts: I think I added this because my mom had it at home… It’s definitely not something I am particularly interested in anymore.  Verdict: TOSS


Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult14866

In nineteen minutes, you can mow the front lawn, color your hair, watch a third of a hockey game. In nineteen minutes, you can bake scones or get a tooth filled by a dentist; you can fold laundry for a family of five….In nineteen minutes, you can stop the world, or you can just jump off it. In nineteen minutes, you can get revenge. 

Sterling is a small, ordinary New Hampshire town where nothing ever happens — until the day its complacency is shattered by a shocking act of violence. In the aftermath, the town’s residents must not only seek justice in order to begin healing but also come to terms with the role they played in the tragedy. For them, the lines between truth and fiction, right and wrong, insider and outsider have been obscured forever. Josie Cormier, the teenage daughter of the judge sitting on the case, could be the state’s best witness, but she can’t remember what happened in front of her own eyes. And as the trial progresses, fault lines between the high school and the adult community begin to show, destroying the closest of friendships and families. 

Nineteen Minutes is New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult’s most raw, honest, and important novel yet. Told with the straightforward style for which she has become known, it asks simple questions that have no easy answers: Can your own child become a mystery to you? What does it mean to be different in our society? Is it ever okay for a victim to strike back? And who — if anyone — has the right to judge someone else?

My Thoughts: I like Jodi Picoult most of the time.  This book sounds like it would probably be really good, but I just feel like I have so many other books that I am more drawn to.  Maybe I’ll get to this eventually, but as of right now… Verdict: TOSS


What do you think about my decisions? Was I too ruthless this time?  Did I toss some of your favorites? Let me know in the comments!
Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: Ten Authors I’d Love to Meet

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There are so many authors whose brains I would like to pick.  Listening to authors talk about their work and careers is so fascinating.  I got the chance to meet one of my favorite authors, Kristin Hannah, at her book signing for The Great Alone earlier this year, and it was such a cool and new experience for me.  I definitely want to attend more of them.  This week’s Top Ten Tuesday from That Artsy Reader Girl is Ten Authors I’d Love to Meet.


J.K. Rowling

I can’t even imagine how I would react.  I would be so completely starstruck and flabbergasted.  I would definitely cry.  She is my queen.


Patrick Rothfuss

I just want to pick his brilliant brain.  I’ve watched so many videos and interviews with him, and I feel like he is such a cool dude.  I also kind of want to shake him to find out where his third book is….


Ken Follett

I love him so much.  He wrote some of my favorite books of all time, and I just want to hear him talk about them.  I also love that he writes about strong women and flawed characters.


Jane Austen

I feel like she was such an interesting woman.  I am only a recent fan, and the more of her work I read, the more I love her.  I feel like she must have been so sassy and fierce in her time and I would love to talk to her.


Meg Cabot

Meg is the author who has had the longest impact on my life, as I have been reading her books FOREVER.  Another one I would probably cry upon meeting, she has created some of my most well loved fictional characters and her books always feel like coming home.


J.R.R. Tolkien

As the avid fantasy lover that I am, how could I not want to meet Tolkien?  He was the father of my favorite genre and The Lord of the Rings is pure genius.  Any tidbits I could get from him would make my inner nerd freak out.


Kate Morton

I found Kate Morton last year, and she quickly became one of my favorite authors.  From following her on social media, she seems like the coolest person, and I feel like we have a lot in common and would get along really well.


Sarah J. Maas

The worlds and characters this woman creates.  Incredible.  I would LOVE to hear all about her process and ask her all of my questions.


Katharine McGee

I love The Thousandth Floor series.  It’s clever and addicting.  Katharine McGee seems really fun, and I love how active she is with her interactions with fans on social media.


Kendare Blake

I want to hear how she came up with the idea for Three Dark Crowns and her whole thought process while writing.  I’m still reeling from the third book, and I have so many questions!!


Victoria Aveyard

I want so much more information about The Red Queen universe!! I’m not ready to be done! I would also love to hear her thoughts about turning it into a film because the writing and the plot are so cinematic.


What authors would you like to meet? Do you agree with my list? Let me know in the comments! ❤

 

 

 

Monthly Wrap-Ups

September 2018 Wrap-Up

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I say this every month, but September really went by in the blink of an eye.  I had another super busy month working my two jobs, and the fire behind my blogging inspiration has been a little dim in response to my crazy schedule.  I took a small break from reading ARC’s this month because I was feeling a little burnt out and just needed to escape with my reading, but now I am ready to tackle the rest of my list.  I got so many new and amazing books this month that I am unbelievably excited for (my wallet may disagree..) and can’t wait to talk about.  I have some very exciting things on the horizon in the next couple months and I am ready to take it all on!

Books Read:

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas 

Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake 

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan 

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows 

Toil & Trouble edited by Jessica Spotswood and Tess Sharpe 


Favorite Book of the Month:

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Currently Reading: 34499221


Challenge Updates:

Goodreads Challenge: 63 of 50

A to Z Challenge: 13 of 26… I’m sucking on this one

Classics Club Challenge: Still stuck at 4 of 50…


Broadway Book Chat: Jordana Grolnick

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September Reviews

The Swan Keeper by Milana Marsenich • Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan •

September Posts

• September Releases That I Can’t Wait For • Cleaning Up My TBR: Down the TBR Hole #3 • Top 10 Tuesday: Hidden Gems • The Library Lover’s Book Tag • Top 10 Tuesday: Books on My Fall TBR • Top 10 Tuesday: Books By My Favorite Authors That I Haven’t Read Yet •