Top 10 Tuesday – October 15th, 2019

toptentuesday

Happy Tuesday, everyone! It’s time for another Top 10 Tuesday list. This is an original weekly blog meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish, and it is now hosted by Jana from That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week, there is a new bookish topic for bloggers to create a list about. If you want to know more about Top 10 Tuesday, click here!

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday topic is the top ten books that you think have extraordinary titles. I have interpreted this prompt as I am meant to choose titles that truly stand out among the vast sea of novels. The titles I have picked out are ones that I find beautiful, unique, and very enticing. These ten are books that have some sort of impact on me just from reading the titles, which make me want to know more about them.

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A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra

Thirteen Doors, Wolves Behind Them All by Laura Ruby

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

All That Is Solid Melts into Air by Darragh McKeon

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The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang

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The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

The Motion of Puppets by Keith Donohue

What book titles do you think are extraordinary? What do you think of these ones I’ve picked out? Let me know in the comments!

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Blog Tour: Naked Mole Rat Saves the World by Karen Rivers

nakedmoleratsavestheworldblogtour

Hey everyone! Today’s post is part of the blog tour for an upcoming middle grade fantasy novel, Naked Mole Rat Saves the World by Karen Rivers. Below, you can find some basic information on the book and the author as well as an exclusive early excerpt from the book itself. And if you like what you see, make sure to check out the novel when it releases on October 15th!

Book Info:

nakedmoleratsavestheworldNaked Mole Rat Saves the World by Karen Rivers

Date Published: October 15th, 2019

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Pages: 304 pages

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Can Kit’s super-weird superpower save her world?

Kit-with-a-small-k is navigating middle school with a really big, really strange secret: When she’s stressed, she turns into a naked mole rat.

It first happened after kit watched her best friend, Clem, fall and get hurt during an acrobatic performance on TV. Since then, the transformations keep happening—whether kit wants them to or not. Kit can’t tell Clem about it, because after the fall, Clem just hasn’t been herself. She’s sad and mad and gloomy, and keeping a secret of her own: the real reason she fell.

A year after the accident, kit and Clem still haven’t figured out how to deal with all the ways they have transformed—both inside and out. When their secrets come between them, the best friends get into a big fight. Somehow, kit has to save the day, but she doesn’t believe she can be that kind of hero. Turning into a naked mole rat isn’t really a superpower. Or is it?

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Book Excerpt:

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KIT’S MOM HAD A TATTOO THAT WOUND AROUND HER LEFT WRIST.

The ink was faded like something that had been washed so many times it had gotten thin and holey and was now just a blurry memory of black.

If you looked closely at the tattoo, you could see that the leafy, twining ink wound its way around three tiny, fancy letters—k and i and t—which stood for keep it together. It also spelled kit’s name, which was kit, not Kit, because when kit was a baby, her mom said she was much too small for capital letters. Back then she fit inside her mom’s two hands, a funny wrinkled thing that looked not-quite-ready to be alive, more like a hairless baby animal than a human being.

“My little naked mole rat,” her mom would say every time she saw the first photo ever taken of kit, which had been stuck on the fridge for most of kit’s life. Then she would put her hand on her heart.

One day, kit took the picture down and slipped it into a drawer and her mom didn’t say it as much anymore, which was good because it didn’t exactly feel like a compliment.

Kit’s mom had had the tattoo for years before kit existed at all.

“Because I knew you were coming,” she said.

Kit’s mom often told people that she was searching for kit for her whole life and the tattoo was the map that she followed to find her. She said that when she found kit, she was saved.

Found made it sound to kit like she was not someone who was born, but instead someone who just appeared, maybe in a box on the doorstep. Even though kit knew this wasn’t true, she sometimes dreamed of scraping her fingernails against cardboard walls, scrabbling to get out.

She also thought that being responsible for saving her mom was an awful lot of pressure. Not that she’d ever say anything; she knew her mom loved that story and the way she told it made kit feel things she didn’t usually feel. It made her feel heroic and kit normally had a pretty hard time imagining that she’d ever be able to save anyone from anything. She was too small to be a hero.

She could still sometimes fit into clothes labeled 6x. That’s how small.

“The size in your shirt should be the same as your age,” Clem told her once when they were shopping at the Brooklyn Flea, which was the best place in the world to find stuff you didn’t know you needed, and kit had felt worse than if Clem had reached over and punched her right in the nose.

Clem was also small, but not nearly as small as kit. She was normal-small. Like kit, Clem and her twin brother, Jorge, had been born too early. But unlike kit, the only fallout for them was that Clem had super bad allergies and Jorge had had to wear glasses since the age of two.

Small-ish and small were two  different  things. That was the day kit had bought her favorite hoodie, the black one with the small rainbow star on the front and the bigger rainbow star on the back. The color was as faded as kit’s mom’s tattoo. It had cost $5, which was the exact amount their moms gave them each to spend. “That looks . . . comfortable,” Clem observed, but she meant, “That looks old.”

Kit didn’t care that Clem didn’t like it. It was big and soft and as soon as she saw it, it looked like it belonged to her. It was already familiar. The fact that it was way too big only meant she wouldn’t grow out of it anytime soon. Clem had spent her $5 on a small glass turtle. “It’s not a very turtle-y turtle,” she said. “Don’t be such a turtle!” she told it.

A lot of what Clem said didn’t make sense, but it was funny anyway or maybe it was just funny because it didn’t make sense. They had both laughed so hard that they had to sit down, right there on the pavement, the crowd parting around them. Clem clutched the non- turtle-y turtle, tears running down their cheeks, while Jorge looked dreamily off into the distance, not quite paying attention to what was so funny. Jorge was like that. There, but not always entirely there.

“He has a rich inner life,” Clem said, which made kit picture a whole miniature world existing inside Jorge. “But his outer life needs work.”

Then she laughed.

Clem was someone who was almost always laughing, at least back then. At first, kit had been friends with Jorge because she was friends with Jackson and Jackson was friends with Jorge. It had been the three of them. Clem had bugged her, with her always laughing thing. But after not very long, kit started to find the same things funny that Clem did, and soon kit and Clem were the closest friends. Their friendship grew to be the biggest and the best. So even when Jackson and Jorge were busy—Jackson with his sports and Jorge with his “rich inner life”—Clem and kit were either together or talking on the phone.

Clem was the most important person in kit’s life, other than her mom.

And Clem got it. She understood what kit’s mom was like. She knew what kit’s life was like and that kit had to look out for her mom because her mom had issues.

Kit’s mom’s main issue was that she was afraid. She was scared of cancer and bad guys and fire. She was terrified of traffic and heights and crowds. She was afraid of spiders and germs and blood. The list was pretty long and always growing.

“K.i.t., keep it together,” kit would say, and her mom would put on her brave smile and hold up her wrist so that kit could see she was trying.

Sometimes, kit and her mom would go in the bathroom and perform magic over the tub or sink so the oils and “potions” didn’t spill anywhere that couldn’t be easily cleaned up. They had a whole glass shelf of bottles and jars, labeled with things like bravery and truth or rosemary and sage.

Kit’s mom owned a hair salon. She was a hairdresser, not a witch, but kit thought her only employee (and her best friend), Samara, might be both. If you didn’t know Samara, you’d think she was just a nice, funny person— she loved riddles—but once you got to know her, you’d find out that she also believed in magic the same way kit did. She believed in spells, believed they could give them courage or love or money or luck, believed in the possibility that herbs and oils and words could really and truly fix any problem.

Mostly it seemed to be luck that kit’s mom was conjuring, but kit thought she should specify whether she wanted good luck or bad. Everything was either one or the other, if you thought about it.

And anyway, details mattered.

“You’re as small as a detail and the details tell the story. You are the best story of all,” kit’s mom liked to say. “I’m not a story!” kit used to always say back, but now that everything had happened, she wasn’t sure this was true anymore.

After all, everybody has a story, even if the story doesn’t feel like a story when you are the one who is living it.

It’s only afterward, in the telling, that it becomes the thing it was meant to be all along.

Author Bio:

Rivers_Karen_Kelsey_Goodwin

Karen Rivers’s books have been nominated for a wide range of literary awards and have been published in multiple languages. When she’s not writing, reading, or visiting schools, she can usu­ally be found hiking in the forest that flourishes behind her tiny old house in Victoria, British Columbia, where she lives with her two kids, two dogs, and two birds. Find her online at karenrivers.com and on Twitter: @karenrivers.

Reviews:

“Rivers realistically portrays the challenge of living with anxiety and the pressures of family responsibility. Complex and moving, this story takes an unvarnished look at what it means to be true to oneself as well as loved ones.”
Publishers Weekly

“Rivers threads rich veins of metaphor and personal transformation into this tale of preteen trauma and recovery . . . Along with folding in this whiff of fantasy (kit’s not the only character here who, at least seemingly, has an animal alter ego), Rivers handles all the domestic and interpersonal drama with a light touch that keeps things from turning soapy . . . Readers will come away admiring her knack for resolving issues and conflicts.”
Booklist, starred review

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Blog Tour: The Dark Lord Clementine by Sarah Jean Horwitz

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Hey everyone! Today’s post is part of the blog tour for the recently released middle grade novel, The Dark Lord Clementine by Sarah Jean Horwitz. Sarah is a wonderful author that I have been a massive fan of for quite a while and this newest novel is her most fun and enchanting one yet! Below, you can find some basic information on the book and the author, as well as an exclusive excerpt from the book itself. And if you like what you see, make sure to check out the novel which just released on October 1st! My full (spoiler-free!) review of The Dark Lord Clementine will be up later in the week!

Book Info:

thedarklordclementineThe Dark Lord Clementine by Sarah Jean Horwitz

Date Published: October 1st, 2019

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Pages: 336 pages

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Algonquin YR

The new face of big evil is a little . . . small.
 
Dastardly deeds aren’t exactly the first things that come to mind when one hears the name “Clementine,” but as the sole heir of the infamous Dark Lord Elithor, twelve-year-old Clementine Morcerous has been groomed since birth to be the best (worst?) Evil Overlord she can be. But everything changes the day the Dark Lord Elithor is cursed by a mysterious rival.

Now, Clementine must not only search for a way to break the curse, but also take on the full responsibilities of the Dark Lord. As Clementine forms her first friendships, discovers more about her own magic than she ever dared to explore, and is called upon to break her father’s code of good and evil, she starts to question the very life she’s been fighting for. What if the Dark Lord Clementine doesn’t want to be dark after all?

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Book Excerpt

NOT. CHIPPING.

Clementine Morcerous awoke one morning to discover that her father had no nose.

This was not exactly unexpected. Several mornings previously, the Dark Lord Elithor Morcerous had greeted her with slightly less nose than usual, and a bit of a weaker chin. The difference was so small that Clementine, who was quite small herself, barely noticed it. She did notice something different about him—he was her father, after all—but she thought perhaps he had gotten a rather unflattering haircut.

An unflattering haircut could not explain the next few days, however, as the Dark Lord Elithor’s nose became skinnier and skinnier, and his chin weaker and weaker. It could also not explain why his skin took on the raw-looking texture of freshly chopped wood, or why the ends of his fingers sharpened first into long points, and then shorter and shorter ones. It was as if every day, something were eating away at him—chipping away at him, Clementine’s mind helpfully suggested—but the Dark Lord carried on as if nothing were the matter, even when the tip of his finger snapped off as he was ladling out the pea soup at dinner.

It was so light it barely made a plop as it landed in the tureen. They ate the soup anyway.

Clementine Morcerous knew that if the Dark Lord Elithor had three gifts in this world, they were:

  1. The invention and implementation of magical Dastardly Deeds
  2. Math
  3. Not Talking About Anything

But the day she sat down to breakfast, rubbed the last bits of sleep from her eyes, and looked up to see her father sitting across the table from her, quite alarmingly nose-
less . . . well. Clementine decided that was the day they were going to Talk About Something.

“Father,” Clementine said as she watched him spear a piece of melon on the tip of his pointy wooden finger. “I do believe you have been cursed.”

The melon cube paused on its journey to his poor thin lips.

“Ah,” said her father, his thick eyebrows rising. “Do you?”

He then returned his focus to his plate, as if she’d merely made a comment on the weather. His finger had sliced through the melon cube. He picked it up again with some difficulty.

“Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it?” demanded Clementine. “Something is . . . well . . . chipping away at you!”

Clementine regretted using the word “chipping” as soon as it was out of her mouth. Yet a consequence of Finally Talking About Anything is that words, once set free into the world, aren’t in the habit of going back where they came from.

The only sound in the room was the Dark Lord’s labored breathing, a thin whistling from the two tiny slits left in his face where his nostrils should’ve been. His eye- brows threatened to meet in the middle. He looked down at his plate again, and even the melon seemed to turn a paler green under the force of his glare.

“No . . .” he said softly. “Not. Chipping.” He spat out the words like they were curses themselves and finally looked up at a very concerned Clementine.

“Whittling.”

Author Bio:

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Sarah Jean Horwitz
is the author of the middle grade fantasy series Carmer and Grit and the recently released The Dark Lord Clementine. She grew up next door to a cemetery and down the street from an abandoned fairytale theme park, which probably explains a lot. She currently lives near Boston, MA. Find her on Twitter, @sunshineJHwitz
Instagramher Goodreads page, or at sarahjeanhorwitz.com.

Review Quotes:

“Horwitz primes readers to expect the unexpected—and delivers. . . .Horwitz’s ingenuity for bizarre enchantment and characterization proves boundless . . . In a wry, satisfying ending, Clementine hints at future enchantments ahead.”
Publishers Weekly

“The descriptions of magical beings are fittingly awe-inspiring  . . . this inventive fantasy twists conventions while involving readers through good storytelling laced with irony and wit.”
Booklist

“After luring readers in with wordplay and tongue-in-cheek, genre-savvy humor, the plot takes an emotionally rich thematic turn, dwelling on community and forgiveness—all the while building toward a mythical, mystical arc involving the unicorn. The few action sequences are mined for utmost impact, as are the slice-of-life scenes and flashback vignettes . . . Absolutely delightful.”
Kirkus Reviews

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Top 10 Tuesday – October 1st, 2019

toptentuesday

Happy Tuesday, everyone! It’s time for another Top 10 Tuesday list. This is an original weekly blog meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish, and it is now hosted by Jana from That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week, there is a new bookish topic for bloggers to create a list about. If you want to know more about Top 10 Tuesday, click here!

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday topic is your top ten book titles with numbers in them. I have decided to pick the top ten books with numbers in the titles that I have on my TBR. I expected it was going to be really difficult to fine ten of these on my TBR but it turns out I have a lot more books with numbers in the titles than I thought. And a lot of them also happen to be really high priority-wise on my list! So here are my top ten TBR books with numbers in the titles.

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Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Eight Will Fall by Sarah Harian

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Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Three Little Lies by Laura Marshall

One by One by D.W. Gillespie

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Between Two Skies by Joanne O’Sullivan

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

What books have you read or do you want to read that have numbers in the titles? Let me know in the comments!

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Review: Ziggy, Stardust and Me by James Brandon

ziggystardustandmeZiggy, Stardust and Me by James Brandon

My Rating: 4.5/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: August 6th, 2019

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Pages: 368 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: The year is 1973. The Watergate hearings are in full swing. The Vietnam War is still raging. And homosexuality is still officially considered a mental illness. In the midst of these trying times is sixteen-year-old Jonathan Collins, a bullied, anxious, asthmatic kid, who aside from an alcoholic father and his sympathetic neighbor and friend Starla, is completely alone. To cope, Jonathan escapes to the safe haven of his imagination, where his hero David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and dead relatives, including his mother, guide him through the rough terrain of his life. In his alternate reality, Jonathan can be anything: a superhero, an astronaut, Ziggy Stardust, himself, or completely “normal” and not a boy who likes other boys. When he completes his treatments, he will be normal—at least he hopes. But before that can happen, Web stumbles into his life. Web is everything Jonathan wishes he could be: fearless, fearsome and, most importantly, not ashamed of being gay.

Jonathan doesn’t want to like brooding Web, who has secrets all his own. Jonathan wants nothing more than to be “fixed” once and for all. But he’s drawn to Web anyway. Web is the first person in the real world to see Jonathan completely and think he’s perfect. Web is a kind of escape Jonathan has never known. For the first time in his life, he may finally feel free enough to love and accept himself as he is.

A poignant coming-of-age tale, Ziggy, Stardust and Me heralds the arrival of a stunning and important new voice in YA. 

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

This is an incredibly beautiful and powerful novel. It is quite a heavy and emotional story and an absolutely stellar debut. I learned so much more about the 1970s and the LGBT community at the time. We get insight into society’s atrocious treatment of same-sex couples and the brave individuals who stood up for themselves and championed the freedom to love. This is such an important novel, particularly for young adult readers that did not grow up in this time period. It is a raw and moving snapshot of a time of great injustice but also of strength and the courage of standing up for what you believe in.

In this novel, we follow a teenage boy named Jonathan who is going through the process of discovering his true self and sexuality. He is facing the intolerance and attempted suppression of homosexuality that plagued society in the 1970s. These feelings are treated as a mental illness and Jonathan has come to believe that he is sick and needs to be cured. He copes with life by entering the safety of his imagination, getting advice and guidance from his hero, David Bowe’s Ziggy Stardust, as well as his mother who passed away after his birth.

Due to pressures from a variety of sources—his very close-minded father included—Jonathan has been undergoing painful and, quite frankly, inhumane treatments that he hopes will “cure” him. However, before he finishes he meets a new classmate named Web—someone who is fearless, strong-willed and, most importantly, not ashamed to be gay.  Before he knows it, Web is completely changing his world and taking him on an adventure through love that he never dared to consider.

Jonathan’s story had my heart from the very beginning. Hearing his thoughts through all the events of this novel is equal parts hilarious, heartbreaking, and inspiring. Watching him grow so much and gradually accept himself over the course of the narrative is wonderful and I found myself feeling extremely proud of him. Every up and every down touches your core and makes you become increasingly invested in his story. This gripped me and held me until the final page and even well after finishing.

Every single character, both good and bad, in this novel is crafted incredibly well. Jonathan and Web are definitely two of my new favorite literary characters. They are two truly beautiful human beings—inside and out—and their relationship is done to absolute perfection. I adored every moment they spent together and there was one scene in particular toward the end of the novel that has genuinely become one of my favorite scenes from any novel I’ve ever read. I have been constantly replaying so many of their interactions in my mind since I finished reading this book and I love that.

Brandon does an amazing job of capturing the mind of a teenage boy going through this rough and confusing time in his life. It is so easy to connect with and feel for Jonathan, as he is so clearly and vividly portrayed. Each scene in the story is packed with so much detail and sentiment they are almost tangible. It is as if you are right there beside Jonathan, watching him grow and transform and always cheering him on. Brandon’s writing transports the reader back in time and right into the middle of things, making for a wholly unique and sweeping narrative.

The only minor issue that I faced was my personal connection to the writing style. Since we are in first person following Jonathan’s point of view, we get to hear all his thoughts as they happen. For me, it felt like it had a sort of stream of consciousness quality to it. I didn’t entirely click with it and it took some getting used to each time I picked the book up. But this was completely a personal thing, not a problem with the actual writing itself. As I’ve said, it is very beautifully written and that stream of thoughts that bounces quickly from one thing to another fits Jonathan perfectly.

Ziggy, Stardust and Me is an absolutely essential read in my opinion. It is a raw and unflinching look at the horrors of intolerance and the length people believed one should go to in order to rid themselves of these feelings they could not—or would not try to—understand. It is a book that will have a great impact on all of its’ readers and on the young adult literary world in general. We get a picture of what it was like for gay people living in this time and the painful and damaging emotional turmoil inflicted on them just for being themselves.

The importance of looking back on our history and learning from the mistakes in order to improve society is particularly important for this generation of readers. Love is love and that will always be true. Here we can find a message of the significance of being open-minded and helping continue the fight for equality. This is a story that will stick with me for a very long time. I look forward to reading future novels by James Brandon.

4.5 TARDISes

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N.E.W.T.s Magical Readathon 2019 Wrap-Up

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Wow, August was an absolutely insane month! Between my Hogwarts studies and my real life university studies, I can’t believe I’m still standing at this point. But, I successfully completed my first-ever readathon! And for it to be a Harry Potter-themed readathon makes it even more awesome. I had so much fun taking (and passing!) my N.E.W.T.s. I’m so happy I gave this a try. In total, I ended up reading twelve books which is more than I’ve read in a month in a while. So, without further ado, here is a look at my readathon results. I’m planning on having full reviews up for all of these at some point this month, so keep an eye out!

Profession:

Mind Medic

Grades Required:

O in Charms
O in Defense Against the Dark Arts
E in Muggle Studies
E in Potions
E in Transfiguration

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A: Read a book that you think has a gorgeous cover

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House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig (Full Review)

5.0 TARDISes

E: Read a comic/graphic novel/manga (or book under 150 pages)

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Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker (Full Review)

4.0 TARDISes

O: Spongeify (softening charm) – Read a paperback book

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Your Heart Is The Sea by Nikita Gill (Full Review)

4.0 TARDISes

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A: Book that’s black under the dust jacket

skyinthedeep

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young (Full Review Coming Soon)

3.5 TARDISes

E: Gilderoy’s memory charm – first book that you remembered just now from your TBR

hishideousheart

His Hideous Heart edited by Dahlia Adler (Full Review)

4.0 TARDISes

O: Cornish Pixie! Swat it away with a book written by an English author or set in England

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The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal (Full Review Coming Soon)

2.5 TARDISes

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A: Cover that includes an actual photo element (person, item, place, etc.)

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The Perfect Wife by J.P. Delaney (Full Review)

4.5 TARDISes

E: Book set in our real world

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The Escape Room by Megan Goldin (Full Review Coming Soon)

3.0 TARDISes

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A: Polyjuice Potion – Read your friend’s favorite book

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Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

4.0 TARDISes

E: House ingredient – book with a cover in your Hogwarts house color (Ravenclaw)

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Doctor Who: Myths and Legends by Richard Dinnick (Full Review Coming Soon)

3.0 TARDISes

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A: Read a book with LGBTQA+ representation

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Ziggy, Stardust and Me by James Brandon (Full Review)

4.5 TARDISes

E: Read a book that’s not a first in the series

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Restricted Section Swap: Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell (Full Review Coming Soon)

4.0 TARDISes

And now I’m a Mind Medic! I’m so pleased with how this readathon went and it’s made me really eager to do another one soon. I’m thinking of maybe doing the O.W.L.s readathon before the end of the year since I missed it, just so I can feel my studies are complete! How about you guys? Did any of you do the N.E.W.T.s Magical Readathon this past month? If so, let me know how you did, or if not, let me know what your favorite books of the month were!

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Top 10 Most Anticipated Releases of Fall 2019

anticipatedreleasesoffall2019

Hey everyone!

I’m already getting the Fall feels! 😀 I absolutely can’t wait for the cool weather to begin. Snuggly sweaters, changing leaves, pumpkin spice (yes, a little cliché, but I’m an addict!), and getting cuddled up with a good book. And there are so many great books coming out over the next few months and I am so pumped! A bunch of my most anticipated releases of the year are coming out during the fall and winter months so I absolutely cannot wait! Anyway, enough of the rambles. Here are just a few of the books that I am most excited to get my hands on this season!

The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones (September 24th, 2019)

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Seventeen-year-old Aderyn (“Ryn”) only cares about two things: her family, and her family’s graveyard. And right now, both are in dire straits. Since the death of their parents, Ryn and her siblings have been scraping together a meager existence as gravediggers in the remote village of Colbren, which sits at the foot of a harsh and deadly mountain range that was once home to the fae. The problem with being a gravedigger in Colbren, though, is that the dead don’t always stay dead.
The risen corpses are known as “bone houses,” and legend says that they’re the result of a decades-old curse. When Ellis, an apprentice mapmaker with a mysterious past, arrives in town, the bone houses attack with new ferocity. What is it about Ellis that draws them near? And more importantly, how can they be stopped for good?
Together, Ellis and Ryn embark on a journey that will take them deep into the heart of the mountains, where they will have to face both the curse and the long-hidden truths about themselves. 

The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht (September 24th, 2019)

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Debut author Jennifer Giesbrecht paints a darkly compelling fantasy of revenge in The Monster of Elendhaven, a dark fantasy about murder, a monster, and the magician who love both.
The city of Elendhaven sulks on the edge of the ocean. Wracked by plague, abandoned by the South, stripped of industry and left to die. But not everything dies so easily. A thing without a name stalks the city, a thing shaped like a man, with a dark heart and long pale fingers yearning to wrap around throats. A monster who cannot die. His frail master sends him out on errands, twisting him with magic, crafting a plan too cruel to name, while the monster’s heart grows fonder and colder and more cunning.
These monsters of Elendhaven will have their revenge on everyone who wronged the city, even if they have to burn the world to do it.

The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith (October 1st, 2019)

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In the first book in a brilliant new fantasy series, books that aren’t finished by their authors reside in the Library of the Unwritten in Hell, and it is up to the Librarian to track down any restless characters who emerge from those unfinished stories.
Many years ago, Claire was named Head Librarian of the Unwritten Wing– a neutral space in Hell where all the stories unfinished by their authors reside. Her job consists mainly of repairing and organizing books, but also of keeping an eye on restless stories that risk materializing as characters and escaping the library. When a Hero escapes from his book and goes in search of his author, Claire must track and capture him with the help of former muse and current assistant Brevity and nervous demon courier Leto.
But what should have been a simple retrieval goes horrifyingly wrong when the terrifyingly angelic Ramiel attacks them, convinced that they hold the Devil’s Bible. The text of the Devil’s Bible is a powerful weapon in the power struggle between Heaven and Hell, so it falls to the librarians to find a book with the power to reshape the boundaries between Heaven, Hell….and Earth.

Thirteen Doors, Wolves Behind Them All by Laura Ruby (October 1st, 2019)

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When Frankie’s mother died and her father left her and her siblings at an orphanage in Chicago, it was supposed to be only temporary—just long enough for him to get back on his feet and be able to provide for them once again. That’s why Frankie’s not prepared for the day that he arrives for his weekend visit with a new woman on his arm and out-of-state train tickets in his pocket.
Now Frankie and her sister, Toni, are abandoned alongside so many other orphans—two young, unwanted women doing everything they can to survive.
And as the embers of the Great Depression are kindled into the fires of World War II, and the shadows of injustice, poverty, and death walk the streets in broad daylight, it will be up to Frankie to find something worth holding on to in the ruins of this shattered America—every minute of every day spent wondering if the life she’s able to carve out will be enough.
I will admit I do not know the answer. But I will be watching, waiting to find out. 
That’s what ghosts do.

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo (October 8th, 2019)

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Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?
Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.

Into the Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo (October 8th, 2019)

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The streets of Creije are for the deadly and the dreamers, and four crooks in particular know just how much magic they need up their sleeve to survive.
Tavia, a busker ready to pack up her dark-magic wares and turn her back on Creije for good. She’ll do anything to put her crimes behind her.
Wesley, the closest thing Creije has to a gangster. After growing up on streets hungry enough to swallow the weak whole, he won’t stop until he has brought the entire realm to kneel before him.
Karam, a warrior who spends her days watching over the city’s worst criminals and her nights in the fighting rings, making a deadly name for herself.
And Saxony, a resistance fighter hiding from the very people who destroyed her family, and willing to do whatever it takes to get her revenge.
Everything in their lives is going to plan, until Tavia makes a crucial mistake: she delivers a vial of dark magic—a weapon she didn’t know she had—to someone she cares about, sparking the greatest conflict in decades. Now these four magical outsiders must come together to save their home and the world, before it’s too late. But with enemies at all sides, they can trust nobody. Least of all each other.

The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco (October 15th, 2019)

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Generations of twin goddesses have long ruled Aeon. But seventeen years ago, one sister’s betrayal defied an ancient prophecy and split their world in two. The planet ceased to spin, and a Great Abyss now divides two realms: one cloaked in perpetual night, the other scorched by an unrelenting sun.
While one sister rules Aranth—a frozen city surrounded by a storm-wracked sea —her twin inhabits the sand-locked Golden City. Each goddess has raised a daughter, and each keeps her own secrets about her sister’s betrayal.
But when shadowy forces begin to call their daughters, Odessa and Haidee, back to the site of the Breaking, the two young goddesses —along with a powerful healer from Aranth, and a mouthy desert scavenger —set out on separate journeys across treacherous wastelands, desperate to heal their broken world. No matter the sacrifice it demands.

Beyond the Black Door by A.M. Strickland (October 29th, 2019)

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Kamai was warned never to open the black door, but she didn’t listen …
Everyone has a soul. Some are beautiful gardens, others are frightening dungeons. Soulwalkers―like Kamai and her mother―can journey into other people’s souls while they sleep.
But no matter where Kamai visits, she sees the black door. It follows her into every soul, and her mother has told her to never, ever open it.
When Kamai touches the door, it is warm and beating, like it has a pulse. When she puts her ear to it, she hears her own name whispered from the other side. And when tragedy strikes, Kamai does the unthinkable: she opens the door.
A.M. Strickland’s imaginative dark fantasy features court intrigue and romance, a main character coming to terms with her asexuality, and twists and turns as a seductive mystery unfolds that endangers not just Kamai’s own soul, but the entire kingdom …

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern (November 5th, 2019)

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From the New York Times bestselling author of The Night Circus, a timeless love story set in a secret underground world–a place of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a starless sea.
Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a mysterious book hidden in the stacks. As he turns the pages, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, and nameless acolytes, he reads something strange: a story from his own childhood. Bewildered by this inexplicable book and desperate to make sense of how his own life came to be recorded, Zachary uncovers a series of clues–a bee, a key, and a sword–that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club, and through a doorway to an ancient library, hidden far below the surface of the earth.
What Zachary finds in this curious place is more than just a buried home for books and their guardians–it is a place of lost cities and seas, lovers who pass notes under doors and across time, and of stories whispered by the dead. Zachary learns of those who have sacrificed much to protect this realm, relinquishing their sight and their tongues to preserve this archive, and also those who are intent on its destruction.
Together with Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired protector of the place, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances, Zachary travels the twisting tunnels, darkened stairwells, crowded ballrooms, and sweetly-soaked shores of this magical world, discovering his purpose–in both the mysterious book and in his own life. 

Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw (November 5th, 2019)

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From New York Times bestselling author of The Wicked Deep comes a haunting romance perfect for fans of Practical Magic, where dark fairy tales and enchanted folklore collide after a boy, believed to be missing, emerges from the magical woods—and falls in love with the witch determined to unravel his secrets.
Be careful of the dark, dark wood…
Especially the woods surrounding the town of Fir Haven. Some say these woods are magical. Haunted, even.
Rumored to be a witch, only Nora Walker knows the truth. She and the Walker women before her have always shared a special connection with the woods. And it’s this special connection that leads Nora to Oliver Huntsman—the same boy who disappeared from the Camp for Wayward Boys weeks ago—and in the middle of the worst snowstorm in years. He should be dead, but here he is alive, and left in the woods with no memory of the time he’d been missing.
But Nora can feel an uneasy shift in the woods at Oliver’s presence. And it’s not too long after that Nora realizes she has no choice but to unearth the truth behind how the boy she has come to care so deeply about survived his time in the forest, and what led him there in the first place. What Nora doesn’t know, though, is that Oliver has secrets of his own—secrets he’ll do anything to keep buried, because as it turns out, he wasn’t the only one to have gone missing on that fateful night all those weeks ago.
For as long as there have been fairy tales, we have been warned to fear what lies within the dark, dark woods and in Winterwood, New York Times bestselling author Shea Ernshaw, shows us why.

What new releases are you guys looking forward to these next few months? Let me know in the comments!

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September 2019 TBR

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Hi everyone!

I’m trying to continue posting more of my monthly TBRs because I absolutely love sharing what I’m reading with you guys. I managed to stick to my whole N.E.W.T.s Readathon TBR last month (wrap-up coming soon!) and I want to try to keep up the momentum with my reading. Also, I love hearing what you’ve all been reading this year and if you have any recommendations! As always, my TBR is insanely ambitious for just one month and I’m not pressuring myself to read all of them, but I’m hoping to get through a decent amount.

I’m so eager to read these books and I’m so excited to share them with you so, without further ado, here is my reading list for September!

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The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Mother Knows Best by Kira Peikoff

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

The Dark Lord Clementine by Sarah Jean Horwitz

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Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

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The Collected Works of Gretchen Oyster by Cary Fagan

As Many Nows as I Can Get by Shana Youngdahl

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

Shadow Frost by Coco Ma

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The Girl in Red by Christina Henry

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (Re-read)

The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

What are you guys reading this month? What have been some of your favorite reads so far this year? Let me know in the comments!

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Review: The Perfect Wife by J.P. Delaney

theperfectwifeThe Perfect Wife by J.P. Delaney

My Rating: 4.5/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: August 6th, 2019

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Pages: 413 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: The perfect life. The perfect love. The perfect lie. From the bestselling author of The Girl Before comes a gripping new psychological thriller. . . 

Abbie awakens in a daze with no memory of who she is or how she landed in this unsettling condition. The man by her side claims to be her husband. He’s a titan of the tech world, the founder of one of Silicon Valley’s most innovative start-ups. He tells Abbie that she is a gifted artist, an avid surfer, a loving mother to their young son, and the perfect wife. He says she had a terrible accident five years ago and that, through a huge technological breakthrough, she has been brought back from the abyss.

She is a miracle of science.

But as Abbie pieces together memories of her marriage, she begins questioning her husband’s motives–and his version of events. Can she trust him when he says he wants them to be together forever? And what really happened to Abbie half a decade ago?

Beware the man who calls you . . . 

THE PERFECT WIFE

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

Going in, I definitely expected to like this book, but I did not expect to love it quite as much as I did. I got so wrapped up in the story that I flew through it in two sittings. Unfortunately, given the genre of the book, a spoiler-free review is going to be a challenge. In fact, there is a twist that happens in the first few pages of the novel that completely shocked me and took the story in a delightfully unexpected direction. Now, this twist and not knowing it was coming made this book so exciting that I absolutely do not want to say what it is—going into it blind was fantastic. All this being said, I will try to tell you about this novel as best as I can.

In this story, we follow our main character, Abbie, as she is recovering from an accident that has caused a great loss of memory. As she gathers and puts together the pieces of the life she forgot and the time she has missed, she finds that nothing is as it seems—her past is a blur and her future may not be under her control.

From page one, I was absolutely hooked. This is a unique and fast-paced story with plenty of twists and turns that you will not see coming. The original synopsis I read was actually a lot vaguer than the finalized one, but either way, I had absolutely no idea what I was getting in to. This had everything I love about psychological thriller novels and more—a twist that made my nerdy little heart sing even louder. And more…nerd-ily.

This is not only a gripping and twisty psychological thriller, but it also deals with several thought-provoking and timely topics. It is very informative, particularly on the topic of parenting a child with autism, which Delaney is writing on from personal experience. I have a very basic knowledge of autism and absolutely no knowledge about what the parent of an autistic child goes through and I learned a great deal through this story. It truly opened my eyes to what incredibly strong and beautiful human beings these children and parents are. I loved the depth that these topics added to the novel as a whole.

The characters are fantastically well-crafted and multi-dimensional. Our main character is very easy to connect with and I enjoyed following her. Many characters are quite ambiguous and leave you questioning their true intentions. I feel that Delaney does a wonderful job of bringing them to life and weaving their roles seamlessly into the main plotline.

Interestingly, this novel is written mostly in the second-person perspective. I have never read a story told in this way and, though I was a bit wary at first, I ended up getting into the style pretty easily. And the reasoning behind using this perspective is yet another mystery you will have to solve by picking up this book.

There were portions toward the middle of the novel—slight lulls between moments of action or shocking revelations—that at first I felt slowed things down. And while, admittedly, there were a few things I felt could have been skipped over, these slower moments actually added depth to one of the main themes in the novel. These sections allow the reader to connect further with the protagonist, putting them in her shoes as she attempts to put the pieces of her life back together. These seemingly mundane tasks she goes about that are described in great detail highlight what her life has become—slowly placing one foot in front of the other, occupying her time by focusing on each individual moment, however small.

The only minor issue I had with the plot was with a portion of the ending. It is a very surprising and intense conclusion, and for the most part, I felt things were resolved well. It is not a perfect, happy ending—which I enjoy a lot—and I was still left feeling very satisfied. There is one moment in the final pages that seemed a bit rushed and unplanned though. It is actually a positive note and one that I am quite happy about, but the logistics of it were confusing. It felt like it was squeezed in simply to resolve a plotline without much exposition to help the reader understand how and why it happened. However, the overall ending was great and I will say that this moment has definitely given me even more to think over after finishing the book.

Wow. This story. It was so unexpected in all the best ways and had me completely enthralled. I never wanted it to end and it totally kicked off a mystery/thriller reading binge for me. This was one of those books that had me making both facial and audible reactions while sitting in a room by myself. I also may or may not have talked to myself for half an hour or more trying to sort out all of my thoughts after finishing it. I have been wanting to read J.P. Delaney’s novels for a while now and this was a wonderful start. I very highly recommend giving this novel a try.

4.5 TARDISes

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An Interview with Author Shannon Schuren

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Huge thanks to Shannon Schuren for putting together this post for us today! Her novel, The Virtue of Sin (June 25th, 2019), is a fascinating story about two teenagers who have spent their entire lives in a cult and how they deal with their newfound clarity about their situation as they are thrown into adulthood in the community. It is a novel that portrays the importance of not always taking what people in power say at face value, fighting for equality, and learning to accept others—and oneself—for who they are. 
I read The Virtue of Sin a few months ago and it is one of my favorite books of 2019! Shannon has graciously agreed to join me for a Q&A about the novel and her career as a writer. Please make sure to check Shannon out on her websiteTwitter, and Goodreads. If you are interested in reading my full, spoiler-free review of The Virtue of Sin, you can find it here!

What inspired you to write The Virtue of Sin?

I’ve always been fascinated by cults and fringe groups, by this idea that someone might give up their freedom and autonomy in their search for meaning and belonging. But the initial spark for this story, specifically, came from a visit to Koreshan State Park in Estero, FL, which was the site of a ‘utopian community’ back in the late 1800’s. So, basically a cult. It was so interesting to wander around their old buildings and read about their belief system. It didn’t seem wise or safe to try and infiltrate a cult for research purposes, so this was the next best thing. I recommend a visit if you’re ever in the area!

You portrayed the psychological aspects of the cult mindset incredibly well and your characters were very realistic and well-crafted. How did you approach the task of creating their personalities and bringing them to life within the setting and narrative?

Thank you! Honestly, this was mostly trial and error. The very first version of the story began with a four-person narrative, but I realized very quickly that wasn’t going to work. For one thing, Aaron knows things about New Jerusalem that I didn’t necessarily want the reading learning right out of the gate. After I pared the POV down to just Miriam and Caleb, it took some work to develop their distinct voices and personalities. They both have very different experiences in the novel, much of that based on gender and their roles within the community. As for the secondary characters, a lot of their personalities developed organically as I was drafting. Especially in early drafts, I like to put different characters together and write random scenes to see what they say and how they interact.

What did you find to be the most challenging part of the writing process?

The ending! I rewrote it so many times, I’ve lost count. Without giving away any spoilers, I had a really difficult time figuring out whether or not Miriam and Caleb’s paths were going to meet up or diverge. And I really had to push myself to find the right ending for both of them—one that felt realistic, yet earned. Hopefully, I managed it. 

How does it feel to know your book is published and out in the world for people to read, and what has been your favorite part of the experience so far?

It is definitely a surreal experience to know that it’s out in the world! I am so grateful for everyone who has picked it up, and everyone who has reached out to tell me about it. I absolutely love hearing from readers. That is my favorite part, by far.

What books and/or authors have inspired you the most?

This is a tough question, because I have been touched by so many books and inspired by so many authors. I really love stories about strong, fierce young women who aren’t afraid to stand up for themselves and others. Or maybe they are afraid, but they do it anyway. Some of my favorites include “The Female of the Species” by Mindy McGinnis, “Speak” by Laurie Halse Anderson, “Sadie” by Courtney Summers, and “Blood Water Paint” by Joy McCullough.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

  1. Read—anything and everything. Genres you love and genres outside your comfort zone. For fun and for research and with avid curiosity.
  2. Write the book you want to read.
  3. Don’t give up. I was very close to throwing in the towel on THE VIRTUE OF SIN. I cringe whenever I think about how close I came. You’re going to hear a lot of ‘no’s’ but it only takes one yes, and it could be on that next manuscript you write, or the next query you send out. So keep going!

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Book Info:

thevirtueofsinThe Virtue of Sin by Shannon Schuren

Date Published: June 25th, 2019

Publisher: Philomel Books

Pages: 432 pages

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

A compelling novel about speaking out, standing up, and breaking free perfect for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale and Tara Westover’s Educated.

Miriam lives in New Jerusalem, a haven in the desert far away from the sins and depravity of the outside world. Within the gates of New Jerusalem, and under the eye of its founder and leader, Daniel, Miriam knows she is safe. Cared for. Even if she’s forced, as a girl, to quiet her tongue when she has thoughts she wants to share, Miriam knows that New Jerusalem is a far better life than any alternative. So when God calls for a Matrimony, she’s thrilled; she knows that Caleb, the boy she loves, will choose her to be his wife and they can finally start their life together. 

But when the ceremony goes wrong and Miriam winds up with someone else, she can no longer keep quiet. For the first time, Miriam begins to question not only the rules that Daniel has set in place, but also what it is she believes in, and where she truly belongs.

Alongside unexpected allies, Miriam fights to learn–and challenge–the truth behind the only way of life she’s ever known, even if it means straying from the path of Righteousness.

A compelling debut novel about speaking out, standing up, and breaking free.

Author Bio:

5190994Shannon Schuren (shannon.schuren.org) works as a children’s librarian at a public library and writes from a cozy she-shed in her backyard. Her short stories have appeared in various journals such as Toasted Cheese Literary JournalBig Pulp, and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. Shannon lives in Sheboygan Falls, WI, with her husband and three children. Follow her on Twitter @shannonschuren.

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