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Book Review: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

**SPOILERS AHEAD – PROCEED WITH CAUTION**

Queen of ShadowsTitle: Queen of Shadows

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: Throne of Glass #4

Edition: eBook

Blurb: Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past…

She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight.

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die for her. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.

The fourth volume in the New York Times bestselling series continues Celaena’s epic journey and builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.

Review: Dorian. Poor, poor Dorian. He is locked inside a body possessed by a demon with no control over any of his actions. Just screaming inwardly. And his father is just loving it, the evil bastard.

I think one of my favorite things about this book is the conflict with Chaol and Aelin. This is the woman he loved and now he can’t trust her. Not only that, but he knows a way to bring magic back into Adarlan – and he’s afraid to do it. He knows that he would forever be at a disadvantage if people like Aelin and Aedion were able to access their full magical potential. He is afraid of a future where people like himself are not the ones in power, even if their ruler is inherently evil. Having an evil ruler still means that his people – mortal humans – are at the top of the hierarchy. If that isn’t a metaphor, I don’t know what is.

And Aelin is certainly no saint, especially in this book. She is vicious, cruel and calculating. Despite being the heroine of the series, she is NOT a good person at all. Granted, she usually has good reasons for doing what she does – like avenging her lover’s death at the hands of her former master, the King of Assassins – but she also relishes in the suffering of her enemies. When she is out for blood, she is absolutely ruthless. Rowan describes her as a “whirlwind of hate and rage and violence” and it’s pretty accurate.

I also very much enjoyed the twist at the end with the King of Adarlan. Won’t spoil it, because that would be bad, but it did take me by surprise and made a two-note villain into something more, which is always enjoyable. I am also really enjoying the Ironteeth witches, particularly Manon Blackbeak, who is clearly more than what even she thinks she is. They are going to be a huge player in this game and I can’t wait.

This series just keeps getting better and better, upping the ante each time.

GoodReads Rating: 5 stars

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – Chapter 11 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

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In Chapter 11, Harry suffers through the horrible revelation of last chapter, Ron and Hermione try to find ways to help him, we find out Malfoy’s plan to get revenge for the hippogriff incident, and Harry receives an amazing Christmas gift. Let’s go!

This post has to start off with another incredulous exclamation about how well-adjusted Harry turns out to be. This is some pretty heavy stuff he’s dealing with, for anyone. And he’s only 13 years old! Imagine finding out that the person who was partially responsible for the death of your parents had been their best friend, and your godfather to boot!

Ron and Hermione are both really worried about him, and rightfully so. Harry is pissed right now! They both try to tell him that he can’t take this to heart and run off to do something stupid. Then Harry drops this on them:

“D’you know what I see and hear every time a dementor gets too near me?” Ron and Hermione shook their heads, looking apprehensive. “I can hear my mum screaming and pleading with Voldemort. And if you’d heard your mum screaming like that, just about to be killed, you wouldn’t forget it in a hurry. And if you found out someone who was supposed to be a friend of hers betrayed her and sent Voldemort after her . . .”

See. It’s a wonder that he’s still sane at all. But what can he do? He’s just a kid facing off against not just a full-grown wizard, but a known cold-blooded killer as well (which we know isn’t true, but Harry doesn’t). Harry wants revenge, which is completely understandable, but it’s also impossible at this point. The current rumor is that Black is looking for Harry, and wouldn’t Harry just be playing into Black’s hands if he went searching him out?

They decide to go see Hagrid and get more bad news. The Ministry has been investigating the hippogriff incident from his class and decided that there will be a hearing overseen by the Committee for the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures. Harry, Ron and Hermione promise to help Hagrid with his case as much as they can. Hagrid is terrified to do anything to help Buckbeak escape because he’s afraid to be taken back to Azkaban.

“Never bin anywhere like it. Thought I was goin’ mad. Kep’ goin’ over horrible stuff in me mind . . . the day I got expelled from Hogwarts . . . day me dad died . . . day I had ter let Norbert go . . .”

“Yeh can’ really remember who yeh are after a while. An’ yeh can’ see the point o’ livin’ at all. I used ter hope I’d jus’ die in me sleep . . . When they let me out, it was like bein’ born again, ev’rythin’ came floodin’ back, it was the bes’ feelin’ in the world. Mind, the dementors weren’t keen on lettin’ me go.”

Hagrid is the biggest, strongest character in the books, and this is what Azkaban did to him. And he was only there for a short period of time. The visit to Hagrid’s did help in one way: Harry doesn’t want to obsess over Black when he knows that Hagrid needs their help. They spend hours in the library trying to find information about hippogriffs and any trials there may have been.

Christmas morning dawns with a very unexpected surprise, a good one this time. A large package, no note saying who it’s from, containing: a Firebolt. The amazing new broom that Harry had been drooling over in Diagon Alley. It is perfect in everyway, but who could have possibly sent it? Dumbledore? Lupin? Definitely not the Dursleys.

Hermione comes in and is immediately terrified of the broom. There’s just something odd about the whole situation and she wants to be cautious. Before they can really question her about it, Crookshanks leaps to attack Scabbers again. Scabbers is looking decidedly unwell: skinny with patches of fur falling out. This leads to another fight between Ron and Hermione because of their pets. I can honestly see both points, but I actually, without knowing what I know about the situation, would have sided with Ron on this one. Hermione may love her cat, but her cat is literally trying to kill Ron’s pet. Sure, that’s what cats do, go after rats and rodents and such, but still.

Since there are so few people staying over Christmas at Hogwarts, the feast is held at just one table. Trelawney makes an appearance, worried that now there are thirteen people sitting there, which is very unlucky. She also mentions that Lupin isn’t there, and predicts that he will probably die before the end of the year because he is so ill. As the Gryffindors head back to their Common Room, Hermione hangs back to talk to McGonagall, and in a few minutes, it becomes clear why.

McGonagall comes to the Common Room with Hermione and confiscates the broom, saying that it needs to be checked for jinxes and curses. After she leaves, taking the Firebolt with her, Ron confronts Hermione, asking her why she told McGonagall about it.

“Because I thought – and Professor McGonagall agrees with me – that that broom was probably sent to Harry by Sirius Black!”

I totally get why she does it, but I probably would have been angry too, to have the world’s best Christmas present taken away. But if it’s dangerous? Hmmm.

The plot thickens!

See you next time for Chapter 12!

nostalgic reads · Uncategorized

Nostalgic Reads: Double Love

Nostalgic Reads

TitleDouble Love

Author: Francine Pascal (creator) and Kate Williams

SeriesSweet Valley High #1

Double LoveBlurb: Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield are identical twins at Sweet Valley High. They’re both popular, smart, and gorgeous, but that’s where the similarity ends. Elizabeth is friendly, outgoing, and sincere — nothing like her snobbish and conniving twin. Jessica gets what she wants — at school, with friends, and especially with boys.

This time, Jessica has set her sights on Todd Wilkins, the handsome star of the basketball team — the one boy that Elizabeth really likes. Elizabeth doesn’t want to lose him, but what Jessica wants, Jessica usually gets … even if it ends up hurting her sister.

Meet the Wakefield twins, their guys, and the rest of the gang at Sweet Valley High….

Review: Welcome to my first Nostalgic Reads post! I’ll tell you what, revisiting some of this stuff has been trippy! I was such a different person when I read them before!

First, a little history. This series began in 1983 created by Francine Pascal and then written by a team of ghostwriters There are 143 books in the base series, not counting the Super Editions, Super Thrillers and Magna Editions. This series had several spin-offs, including Sweet Valley Twins (which I also read), Sweet Valley KidsSweet Valley High: Senior Year, and Sweet Valley University. 

Now, onto this book. This book has at least six plots going on. Each one of these could easily be a book of it’s own. Those plots are:

  1. The main plot, according to the blurb, which is that Elizabeth likes Todd Wilkins, the captain of the basketball team, but Jessica is going after him like crazy, even though Todd seems to like Elizabeth as well.
  2. Both sisters are pledging to join the Pi Beta sorority, although Jessica is the only one who’s really excited about it.
  3. Their father Ned, a lawyer, might be having an affair with another lawyer, Marianne West, from his law firm.
  4. Their brother Steve has a mystery girlfriend who is revealed to come from a family with a bad reputation.
  5. Jessica has an unfortunate “date” with bad boy Rick Andover which leads to a bar fight and a case of mistaken identity.
  6. The school might lose their football field and the two richest families – the Patmans (old money) and the Fowlers (new money) – are fighting over who takes over the land.

My head is already spinning. I don’t think the other books in the series deal with quite so many plot threads. This may have been just a way to introduce a lot of characters quickly, plus give you a good idea of the town and the school, but boy is it a lot!

The twins. What to say about the twins? Typically, girls who read these books were supposed to identify with one or the other, and I think most probably identified with Elizabeth because she was the bookish twin. Also – Jessica Wakefield is a deeply unlikeable person. I don’t remember disliking her that much when I was younger. I probably, like a lot of young girls, wished I could be more confident like she was: co-captain of the cheerleaders, boys who fall at her feet, the one the whole school practically worships.

But oh my goodness, reading her now. She is such a shallow, lying, manipulative, drama queen! She throws tantrums when she doesn’t get her way. She lies CONSTANTLY. Let’s look at plot #5. She goes on this date with Rick, who gets drunk and gropey, and ends up riding home in a police car after the resulting bar fight gets broken up. The policeman recognizes her last name and knows that his niece goes to school with Elizabeth Wakefield. He doesn’t know that they are twins. So when he drops her off with a warning, and says her name as he tells her goodnight, someone overhears it. Suddenly, the whole school is talking about Elizabeth’s wild night out. Jessica NEVER corrects anyone, claiming that she never hears anyone talk about it. Eventually, she attempts to explain it to Todd, but he thinks she’s just trying to excuse Elizabeth’s “bad behavior” and take the blame.

Jessica also tells Elizabeth that Todd tried to assault her too, just to get back at him for liking someone else and not being attentive enough at the school dance they go to together. Seriously.

The thing is, Elizabeth is clearly the “good girl,” but she also comes off as a complete doormat. She forgives Jessica for anything and everything she does, although she does manage to get some revenge by tricking the student body into throwing Jessica into the school pool. Elizabeth is the writer of the “Eyes and Ears” gossip column in the school paper, but the identity of that person is always kept a secret. If they get discovered, they get dunked. Elizabeth tricks people into thinking that Jessica is her and gets Jessica thrown in the pool instead. It seems like a paltry punishment for all that Jessica does throughout this book, but at least it’s something.

Does this book still hold up? Not necessarily, although it is still highly entertaining, if only for the ridiculousness of it all. We’ll see how some of the other ones stack up.

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – Chapter 7 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

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In Chapter 7, we attend Potions class (where Malfoy is an ass) and Lupin’s first Defense Against the Dark Arts class (where Neville is a hero). Let’s go!

The combination of Malfoy and Snape make for a disasterous time for Harry and Ron. Both are just so nasty! Malfoy, with his arm all bandaged up, is milking sympathy for all he’s worth. Let’s face it – if Madam Pomfrey could regrow all of the bones in Harry’s arm in one night, she would have been able to fix Malfoy’s little cut in seconds. He is playing them all and everyone knows it, starting with asking Snape to make Ron and Harry prepare his potions ingredients for him.

The real one suffering in class is, of course, Neville. He just doesn’t have a knack for potions. When his potion turns orange instead of green, Snape threatens to feed the completed potion to Neville’s toad to test it. That is so . . . awful-terrible-evil-mean! I get a lot of flack because I am a bit of a Snape fangirl (mostly because I am an Alan Rickman fangirl, but anyway), but it’s not because I think Snape is a good person. Did he ultimately do the right thing in the end? Sort of. But he’s an absolutely terrible human being.

Malfoy also makes comments about Sirius Black, indicating that he knows something about Black that Harry doesn’t. Ron brushes it off, saying that Malfoy is only saying that to try and make Harry do something reckless.

Finally, at the end of the lesson, it’s time to see Trevor the Toad’s fate. Hermione had been whispering instructions to Neville to try and help him fix it, and it at least looks closer to correct now.

“Everyone gather ’round,” said Snape, his black eyes glittering, “and watch what happens to Longbottom’s toad. If he has managed to produce a Shrinking Solution, it will shrink to a tadpole. If, as I don’t doubt, he has done it wrong, his toad is likely to be poisoned.”

It works! Trevor shrinks to a tadpole and the Gryffindors cheer. Snape is none to happy; he has to give Neville some credit now, doesn’t he?

“Five points from Gryffindor,” said Snape, which wiped the smiles from every face. “I told you not to help him, Miss Granger. Class dismissed.”

Snape, you are an absolute bastard.

Speaking of Hermione though, something weird happens. As they are leaving Potions class, Ron and Harry turn around and . . . she’s gone. Disappeared. They wait on the steps for a moment and then she appears, running up the stairs in a hurry. She’s also carrying tons of books around, even though they only have one more class left that day. Hmm.

Lupin’s class! Who doesn’t absolutely love Lupin! He’s awesome! And they are having a practical lesson today, not just reading from books. Lupin takes them into the staffroom (after a funny interaction with Peeves the Poltergeist – why wasn’t he in the movies!!) where there is a wardrobe containing a boggart. What is a boggart, you might ask? Let’s let Hermione tell us:

“It’s a shape-shifter,” she said. “It can take the shape of whatever it thinks will frighten us most.”

The best way to literally face your fears? Laughter. After Snape, who was in the staffroom when they arrived, makes snarky comment about Neville’s lack of magical aptitude, Lupin picks Neville to be his assistant. Step one: what does Neville fear the most? The answer is obvious. It’s Snape. Here’s the trick with a boggart. You need to imagine how to make the thing you are afraid of into something amusing. Lupin suggests to Neville that when the boggart appears looking like Snape, Neville should think really hard about the clothing that his grandmother wears.

And it works!

There was a noise like a whip crack. Snape stumbled; he was wearing a long, lace-trimmed dress and a towering hat topped with a moth-eaten vulture, and he was swinging a huge crimson handbag.

I have to say, this was done to PERFECTION in the movie. Seeing Alan Rickman in that get up – absolutely hilarious.

One by one, the students have a go at the boggart, causing it to turn into many different shapes, but each time transformed into something comical. Just as it’s Harry’s turn, Lupin hurries forward and has Neville finish it off. Yay Neville!

We also get to see that Lupin’s fear has something to do with a “silvery-white orb.” What could that possibly mean? *wink*wink*

It’s a great class, but Harry wonders why Lupin didn’t let him try to take on the boggart and worries that maybe, after the incident on the train, Lupin thinks he wouldn’t be able to handle it. Hermione approves of Lupin’s teaching.

“He seems like a very good teacher,” said Hermione approvingly. “But I wish I could have had a turn with the boggart -”

“What would it have been for you?” said Ron, sniggering. “A piece of homework that only got nine out of ten?”

Oh Ron.

See you next time for Chapter 8!

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Announcement! New project!

Two posts on a weekend!!!! What is happening!!???!!

Hi again! Wanted to pop in for just a few minutes to tell everyone about a new blogging project I’m going to be working on. This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while, but was also inspired by a short conversation on another blog – and I can’t find it! I wish I could give you credit! If this was you, please let me know and I will edit this.

Anyway, we ended up talking about The Baby-Sitters Club books that we both read as kids and how much fun they were. I remember having so many of them, they would barely fit on my bookshelf. And that was just one series. I followed MANY of them, as my mother can attest. The blogger I was commenting with mentioned a podcast called The Baby-Sitters Club Club where these two guys discuss the series in chronological order. I haven’t had a chance to listen yet, but I thought it sounded like a ton of fun.

That’s when I finally decided to do this. For a few months now, I have had a weird desire to revisit some of the books of my youth. Maybe it was just a simpler time and I feel the need to explore that more. Maybe I’m just a little weird. Or both. Which brings me to my new feature on this blog:

Nostalgic Reads

A few notes:

  • This will not be a regular thing, like my other featured posts that go up each week like clockwork. I might try to have a more regular schedule later, but for now, I’m just going to see where this goes.
  • I will not be counting these books towards my GoodReads goal for the year. I will be keeping these on a separate list. It’s only because these books are pretty short compared to the other stuff I’m reading (I literally just read one in about an hour and a half) and it would inflate my GoodReads count way too much.
  • I have a list currently of nine series (ten if I can track down another one) that I’m going to start on. The first one I will be working on is Sweet Valley High, but I might jump around a bit. There are no rules here!
  • Other series currently on the list are: The Baby-Sitters Club (because of course), The Whitney Cousins, Satin Slippers, The Zodiac Club, Fear Street, The Nancy Drew Files, Abracadabra, and The Fabulous Five. More may be added later as I think of them.
  • The other series that I am trying to track down is called (I think) Girlfriends? I have no idea who the author is and, although I remember quite a few details about it, I can’t remember any individual titles. Google searches have turned up nothing, but I have posted information to a GoodReads group dedicated to tracking down these unknown books (the thread is here if you want to check it out – maybe one of my followers has heard of it?) EDIT: That GR group is amazing! That post was up for less than a day and they found it! It’s the Girl Friends series by Nicole Grey.

Just these series alone give me hundreds and hundreds of books to post about. I think it will be fun to see how well these stories hold up. They will be dated, of course – it was the late 80s/early 90s when I read them! Even so, I think this will be fun. It will be interesting to see how many of you also read these when you were a kid.

Maybe I’ll be adventurous and jump right in with the first post tomorrow? If not tomorrow, then definitely sometime next week. I’m excited! This will be so much fun!

Uncategorized · WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday – 1/2/19

WWW New

WWW Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Sam at Taking On a World of Words. Three questions, three answers. Let’s go!

What are you currently reading?

Currently reading City of Blaze by H.O. Charles. This is a book I got off of BookBub a while back and I am finally getting around to reading it. It’s pretty good so far, the first book in a seven book series. We’ll see if this gets added to the list of series I want to finish. I’m about halfway through it and still a bit on the fence.

What did you recently finish reading?

I finished out 2019 re-reading the Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa, ending with the fourth book in the series, The Iron Knight. I had almost forgotten how good those books are. GoodReads says the last time I read them was in 2012! Long past due for a re-read.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Depending on how I feel after finishing City of Blaze, I would probably read the second book in that series, Nation of Blaze. If not that, then I think I will read Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. I just bought that one with a holiday gift card to Barnes & Noble. I loved the Daughter of Smoke & Bone series so much, so I have high hopes for this one.

Leave your WWW’s in comments!

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Wake up, it’s Monday! – 12/31/18

Y’all, 2018 is almost over! How on earth did that happen! Seriously, does anyone else feel like this year went by incredibly fast? Not that I am necessarily complaining. This year was a tumultuous year for me, in good and bad ways. By the end of this year though, I feel like things are finally settling down. I feel more positive about life than I have in a long time, and not just because I am trying to make goals for 2019, but because my life is just better now. Let’s take a look:

  • Celebrated by 10 year anniversary with my husband.
  • Finally left my old job (for good this time) that was killing me and am now in a job working for a company that legitimately cares about its employees’ welfare.
  • Still battling with my various health issues, but since leaving my old job brought a significant drop in stress, my symptoms have gone way down.
  • Working on building my relationship back up with my daughter and making plans to help her with some of her goals.

All good things, right? How is this my life now!

I have some health related goals for this year, but seeing as this is primarily a book blog, I am going to go over my reading goals, starting with how I did for last year.

goodreads-icon

I originally, due to my reading slumps, had made my GoodReads goal to read 35 books this year. I met that goal in September, so I bumped it up to 50, and met that earlier this month. A lot of this has to do with the fact that I re-read two series in December that I read pretty quickly, but in my defense, it had been a while since I had read them the first time. So they were due. Here’s my final list (assuming that I will not finish my current read today):

  1. Want by Cindy Pon
  2. The Circle by David Eggers
  3. A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
  4. A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
  5. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
  6. Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman
  7. Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill
  8. Friday Night Bites by Chloe Neill
  9. Twice Bitten by Chloe Neill
  10. The Doll’s House by Neil Gaiman
  11. Hard Bitten by Chloe Neill
  12. Dream Country by Neil Gaiman
  13. Season of Mists by Neil Gaiman
  14. Drink Deep by Chloe Neill
  15. House Rules by Chloe Neill
  16. Biting Cold by Chloe Neill
  17. A Game of You by Neil Gaiman
  18. Fables & Reflections by Neil Gaiman
  19. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
  20. Brief Lives by Neil Gaiman
  21. Biting Bad by Chloe Neill
  22. World’s End by Neil Gaiman
  23. The Kindly Ones by Neil Gaiman
  24. The Wake by Neil Gaiman
  25. The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice
  26. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
  27. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
  28. Wild Things by Chloe Neill
  29. Blood Games by Chloe Neill
  30. Dark Debt by Chloe Neill
  31. Midnight Marked by Chloe Neill
  32. Blade Bound by Chloe Neill
  33. Steel Lily by Megan Curd
  34. Iron Pendulum by Megan Curd
  35. 18 Things by Jamie Ayres
  36. Furiously Happy:A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson
  37. The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore
  38. 18 Truths by Jamie Ayres
  39. 18 Thoughts by Jamie Ayres
  40. Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro
  41. Splintered by A.G. Howard
  42. Unhinged by A.G. Howard
  43. Ensnared by A.G. Howard
  44. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson
  45. Feed by Mira Grant
  46. Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
  47. Deadline by Mira Grant
  48. Blackout by Mira Grant
  49. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green
  50. Paper Towns by John Green
  51. The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
  52. The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa
  53. The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa
  54. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  55. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  56. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  57. The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa

Reading colors your life

Sigh. One day, I will do better at this goal. I really will. I have a list of 30-something series that I have started, but never finished (you can see it here, along with my other goal stuff). I had wanted to finish at least five. I finished one (Chicagoland Vampires by Chloe Neill). On the plus side, I also made the goal of trying to finish any new series that I started, and I finished all of those (Sandman by Neil Gaiman, Periodic by Megan Curd, and My So-Called Afterlife by Jamie Ayers). So the Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice will be added to the list for next year. Not really much progress, but hey, at least I didn’t make it worse!

Reading Goals for 2019

I am going to keep my GoodReads goal at 50 books in 2019. I am trying to make sure I read every day, even if it’s only one chapter, to avoid the dreaded reading slump. I’m on a good pace right now, so hopefully that will continue.

I will complete three series on my “Complete the Series” list, as well as finish all new series that I start in 2019. Let’s see if I can manage that at least.

Happy New Year everyone! May 2019 bring you health, happiness, and lots and lots of new books to read!