Review: The Wingsnatchers by Sarah Jean Horwitz

thewingsnatchersThe Wingsnatchers by Sarah Jean Horwitz

My Rating: 5/5 TARDISes

Series: Carmer and Grit #1

Date Published: April 25th, 2017

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Pages: 368 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: A stunning debut about a magician’s apprentice and a one-winged princess who must vanquish the mechanical monsters that stalk the streets and threaten the faerie kingdom.

Aspiring inventor and magician’s apprentice Felix Carmer III would rather be tinkering with his latest experiments than sawing girls in half on stage, but with Antoine the Amazifier’s show a tomato’s throw away from going under, Carmer is determined to win the cash prize in the biggest magic competition in Skemantis. When fate throws Carmer across the path of fiery, flightless faerie princess Grit (do not call her Grettifrida), they strike a deal. If Carmer will help Grit investigate a string of faerie disappearances, she’ll use her very real magic to give his mechanical illusions a much-needed boost against the competition. But Carmer and Grit soon discover they’re not the only duo trying to pair magic with machine – and the combination can be deadly. 

In this story perfect for readers of the Lockwood & Co and Wildwood series, Sarah Jean Horwitz takes readers on a thrilling journey through a magical wooded fairyland and steampunk streets where terrifying automata cats lurk in the shadows and a mad scientist’s newest mechanical invention might be more menace than miracle.

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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.

I just finished this novel, so I’m still having a bit of trouble settling my thoughts down so I can put them into actual words. Over the years, it has become much rarer for me to give out a full five-star rating to a book, but I absolutely adored this novel. After only the first chapter—maybe even the first few pages—I was already completely hooked and in love with everything about it. It is one of those books that is written for a younger audience, but ends up transcending those limits, creating a magical tale that can be enjoyed by anyone.

This is truly a heart-pounding book. Horwitz quickly makes her readers fall in love with her characters from the very start, causing us to feel a huge range of emotions through all the trials and successes, funny moments and those that break our hearts. I laughed so hard. I deeply felt the moments of fear, pain, and sadness. And I have to admit, I even shed some tears, primarily at the nostalgic feelings this novel evoked for me. I tore through these pages, finding it so hard to put down. I just had to know the fates of these characters I had come to love so much.

Full of mystery, magic, industry and mechanical science, from start to finish it is a compelling tale full of captivating steampunk goodness. It has been a long time since I have been so drawn into a novel. It threw me back to my childhood, to all the years I spent dreaming up fairytales and magical worlds. To all the years of constantly hoping to reach a point where I am able to spend the rest of my days bringing these stories to life for others on paper and in their minds, the same way they came to life for me—the same way they have given me life all these years. This particular tale is most definitely going to stick with me for a long time.

In this novel, we follow the adventures of a young boy named Felix Cassius Tiberius Carmer III (Carmer for short) and a one-winged fairy princess of the Seelie realm named Grettifrida (but always call her Grit). Carmer, a magician’s apprentice and aspiring inventor, and Grit, a sassy, flightless fire fairy, are thrown together as a chance meeting evolves into a race to save the entire fae realm—as well as themselves and the city of Skemantis—from a mad scientist.

When fairies begin to go missing, captured by an unknown evil they have named “The Wingsnatchers”, it is up to Carmer and Grit to get to the bottom of the mysterious disappearances. And what is the connection of these odd events to the unexplainable ones simultaneously occurring in the human world? Mixing science with fantasy, real magic with the closest replications that humans can accomplish, this is an enchanting and fast-paced modern fairytale that will leave readers on the edge of their seats, wanting more.

The depiction of the characters—both the main and the side ones—was one of the standout points of the book for me. Every single one of her characters are fleshed out quite well, and even the most minor of characters are memorable. Carmer and Grit have such a lovely friendship, even though they are each struggling through plenty of their own troubles.

Carmer is attempting to take control of his future and leave behind his past as an orphan, and Grit is trying to make others understand that her disability does not define her—that she is as strong and capable as anyone else, despite what people may think. Though they have some extreme—and understandable—differences and find themselves at odds occasionally, once they learn to trust one another, they end up making a brilliant duo.

This is Horwitz’s first novel, but it reads as if she has been writing for decades. Flawlessly executed and incredibly beautiful, her writing is fluid and easy to fall into. It grabs hold of your imagination, your senses, and hangs on long after the final page has been read. Her vibrant descriptions and world-building are solid, showing her talent for weaving her stories into the minds of her readers.

I truly had an enjoyable time using Horwitz’s vivid narrative to put myself into this unique setting. I felt like I was there watching these events unfold right alongside the characters. She also relates this book to our present world by dealing with some themes that are very common in society today. Horwitz handles every aspect of the novel with care, meticulously unfolding an action-packed narrative. This was just such a fun adventure I did not want to pull myself out of it until I ran out of book.

I will reiterate—though I know I don’t have to at this point—that I completely fell head over heels for this novel. And unsurprisingly, I would highly recommend it to anyone and everyone. It is a beautifully crafted tale of family, friendship, and how two exceedingly dissimilar groups can set their differences aside and team up to fight a threat that affects them all.

Overcoming obstacle after obstacle—even those their own families and sometimes they themselves place in the way—Carmer and Grit unite in a heart-warming friendship that withstands the forces that test it. This is a fantastic beginning to a promising series. Though I don’t quite know how I am going to stand the wait, I am extremely excited to get my hands on any and all future novels.

5.0 TARDISes

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Top Ten Tuesday – April 18th, 2017

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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. 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 things that will make you instantly want to read a book. It was a little tough thinking up ten things that turn me on to a book, which is odd considering I will read just about anything I can get my hands on. I guess that goes to show that I will give any book a try, but I somewhat rarely feel that need to instantly pick up a novel. However, there are a few cases where this is true.

Time Travel or Parallel Universes – Anyone who knows me knows that I am absolutely addicted to books about time travel and/or parallel universes. Honestly, this is one of the only cases where there is practically no hesitation on my part. I will literally read anything I find that involves either time travel, parallel worlds, or (preferably) both!

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Books About Books – I think many book lovers out there can relate to this one! I love reading books in which reading and literature plays a huge part. This can come in the form of the characters being book nerds like myself, the setting being somewhere like a bookstore or library, or a storyline that is shaped around either a real or fictional book within the book.

Recommendations – I’m not one who typically gives into major hype about books—I have been disappointed many times when I get sucked into that. However, if a friend that I trust and share a similar reading taste with highly recommends something, I will pick it up straight away. People like my best friend Lizzie, and my awesome blogger besties Heather and Anna, are to blame for much of my ever increasing TBR pile!

Retellings – I am a complete sucker for retellings. Whether it’s a retelling of a classic novel, folklore, or fairytale, that’s pretty much all I need to know before I pick it up. This can occasionally amount to me reading a really crappy version of a story I love. But many times I have discovered some absolutely wonderfully crafted retellings with their own unique twist.

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Interesting Magic System – I love love love fantasy novels! This is the primary genre that I read, but I do get a bit picky with them, at least in recent years. There are a lot of novels that deal with the same subjects over and over again, and those don’t make for the best reading experience. However, any fantasy novel with a unique-sounding magic system will instantly pique my interest.

Modern Fairytale – As I mentioned, I love fairytales and folklore, and I love present-day novels that give off that fairytale or folklore feeling. I find those types of stories to be absolutely beautiful and captivating. I really hope I can write a story like that one day.

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Highly Praised Classic – I am a huge fan of classic literature—I was always that weird kid in English class that loved almost every book they made us read! So if a classic is highly praised, either by people I know or just in general, I will most likely pick it up. I won’t say I always like them, but I’ll at least give them a try!

Little to No Romance – I’ve talked about this many times before, that, despite being a hopeless romantic, I actually really do not like reading about romance in novels. Sometimes a little bit is nice, bit I find that there are so many instances where it completely overshadows the actual plot. So if a novel boasts little to no romance, that’s definitely a plus for me.

Noir or Gothic – I love noir and gothic everything! Books, movies—you name it, I love it! So of course, these are major turn-ons for me when it comes to finding books. If it has a noir or gothic setting, I’m getting my read on! 😛

Sounds Like Sherlock Holmes – And finally, the most embarrassing book turn-on I have to admit. I typically don’t go for books that are compared to other books I love because ninety percent of the time, I end up feeling disappointed in a book that may have been great if I weren’t holding it to the highest possible standard. However, the one thing that gets me every time is when a novel (or a character in a novel) is compared to Sherlock Holmes…or Doctor Who (hence my love of the Jackaby series!).

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Honorable Mentions

Gillian Flynn, Neil Gaiman, Patrick Ness, Victoria Schwab – …Enough said… 🙂

What are some things that make you instantly want to read a book? Let me know in the comments, and stay tuned for next Tuesday when I talk about my book turn-offs!

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Top 5 Wednesday – March 29th, 2017

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Top 5 Wednesday was created by Lainey at Gingerreadslainey and is now hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. Every week, book reviewers all over the world are given a bookish topic and respond with their top 5 books (or elements of books) that relate to that topic. Click here for the Goodreads group if you would like to learn more about Top 5 Wednesday and join in!

This week’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is the top five books you think will be considered classics one day. I absolutely love this topic! It’s so cool to speculate on what novels we read now that might become important and well-love reads for many upcoming generations. We get to imagine the future of the literary history that is being create here and now!

This was actually surprisingly tricky for me to compile because a large number of my favorite novels are already considered classics. But I finally managed to come up with a few novels that I love and really hope to see on the list of classics sometime down the line! 🙂

5. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

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4. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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Click here to read my full review of Gone Girl!

3. The Giver by Lois Lowry

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2. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

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1. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

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Click here to read my full review of A Monster Calls!

Honorable Mentions:

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin
Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

I’d love to hear what books you guys think will become classics one day! Let me know in the comments! 🙂

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Review: If I’m Found by Terri Blackstock

ifimfoundIf I’m Found by Terri Blackstock

My Rating: 4/5 TARDISes

Series: If I Run #2

Date Published: March 21st 2017

Publisher: Zondervan

Pages: 352 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Is Dylan hunting Casey to prosecute her or protect her?

Casey Cox is still on the run, fleeing prosecution for a murder she didn’t commit. Dylan Roberts—her most relentless pursuer—is still on her trail, but his secret emails insist that he knows the truth and wants to help her. He’s let her escape before when he had her in his grasp, but trust doesn’t come easily. 

As Casey works to collect evidence about the real murderers, she stumbles on another unbearable injustice: an abused child and a suicidal man who’s also been falsely accused. Casey risks her own safety to right this wrong and protect the little girl from her tormenters. But doing so is risky and just may result in her capture—and if she’s captured, she has no doubt she’ll be murdered before she ever steps foot in a jail.

In this riveting sequel to the USA Today bestseller If I Run, evil lurks, drawing Casey out of the shadows . . . but there is light shining in the darkness. Is Dylan a provision from the God who loves her, or another heartache yet to happen?

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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, however, it may contain spoilers for the previous book, If I Run.

Once again, Terri Blackstock provides us with another fast-paced, gripping read—full of moments of action and unexpected twists equal to those of it’s predecessor. Blackstock skillfully creates a novel that is suspenseful, exciting, and completely addictive. The end of each chapter keeps you wanting more, making it an engrossing read that is extremely hard to put down. She continues to capture her readers with shocking—and some times infuriatingly unjust—developments, as well as characters that are easy to connect with and care about. And even as the book comes to a close, the final pages are enough to leave any reader craving more.

Casey and Dylan’s story continues as she runs for her life from the corrupt detectives who are bent on capturing her and as he works to save Casey from the dangers that lie back in Shreveport. Much like the first novel, this one is primarily a dual perspective narrative, split between Casey and Dylan. However, one notable difference is that we get a small glimpse into the mind of Detective Gordon Keegan, Casey’s most immoral and relentless pursuer.

Again, Blackstock does a wonderful job of giving each narrator a very distinctive voice, and I enjoyed being able to hear multiple sides of the story. Her writing and transitioning between perspective is very fluid, and she has a style that is easy to read and get swept away with. However, one thing I would have liked to have seen more of in terms of the narrative was Detective Keegan’s point of view. It made the story even more riveting to have a narrator speaking from such an opposing view to Casey’s and Dylan’s, but he ends up only narrating two chapters in the entire novel.

I loved getting to see more of Casey and Dylan, and really diving in to their personalities and what causes them to act in the ways that they do. There was a lot more detail about their individual struggles and how they are pushing on, trying to find ways to overcome these obstacles. It was also exciting to finally see their individual storylines truly—and literally—converge. These two kind and caring souls will do anything they can to make sure justice is served, and finally seeing them interact shows how well they compliment each other.

Casey is such an amazing heroine; she is so caring and puts everyone else’s needs above her own at all times. There were certain instances where I found myself a little frustrated by what she was doing. The obviously dangerous risks she was taking were much more prominent and a little bit more outlandish in this book. However, as I think back on these moments, they were very representative of her overall selflessness, and I applaud Blackstock for further demonstrating this as well as how she has both evolved and stuck with her natural instincts during her time as a fugitive.

I noted Blackstock’s ability to create very relatable and engaging characters in the first novel and that continues to be strong in this one as well. The subplots are definitely less developed than last time, however, this is indicative of Casey having a decreased ability to linger in one place for an extended amount of time. Despite this, I felt that the new side characters and their own storylines were fairly well-developed. She once again adds an equally intriguing subplot into the cat-and-mouse chase that is the main narrative.

This novel deals much more heavily with the subjects of faith and religion than the previous installment did—particularly on Christianity as a whole, and Casey’s gradual understanding of God. I find that it can be a rather difficult task to use these themes in a story without overpowering the reader, especially if they do not follow the same practices as described. Personally, I easily get very uncomfortable when reading about or discussing religion, simply because I believe it is a deeply personal and private thing. I am by no means against novels having elements of religion in them, in fact I applaud authors for using a subject like this, but only when it is done correctly.

Blackstock, in my opinion, went about addressing this topic in a good way. As I said, I find that I can be extremely sensitive to this subject being brought up—however, I did not feel completely overwhelmed by it at any point in time. While Blackstock does focus in on Christianity, the main message that she is sending is about having faith, both in ourselves and possibly in a power that is greater than any of us.

Casey is gradually building her own faith, her own view of God, of heaven, of prayer, and it is ever-changing as her journey continues. Her faith is woven into her struggle in a beautiful and poignant way, coming into her life when she needs it most. And Blackstock writes this all in a very accessible way, not one that would turn of the reader.

Casey’s journey into her own faith is something that most people go through and continue to go through for their entire lives. Faith and religion is something that is somewhat indefinable because we each experience it in a different way. It is constantly evolving, and it’s sole purpose is to provide us with what we need the most at any given time throughout our lives. This is the message that resonates in each detail of the experiences these characters go through in this novel—something that is unique to each one and fills them with the strength they need to carry on through the best and worst times.

The only real complaint I have with this novel is that I found some of the events to be a bit of a stretch when it came to believability. Like the previous book, Casey demonstrates her amazing intellect and self-preservation as she navigates the world under the radar of those searching for her. However, this time around, there were some moments that seemed just a little too perfect—a little too unlikely. Extreme situations that seemingly had no possible way to end well always managed to turn in her favor. And while I definitely enjoyed seeing her conquer each obstacle, some had a slight “deus ex machina” feel to them.

Even though I ended up not enjoying this book quite as much as the previous one, this was still an incredibly action-packed read that had me on the edge of my seat, wondering what would happen next. I flew through this book, cheering Casey and Dylan on, deeply feeling each moment of triumph and injustice. Blackstock knows how to grab a reader’s attention and not let go until the heart-pounding finale. I am really looking forward to reading more of this story and finding out the fates of these characters I have come to love.

4.0 TARDISes

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Review: If I Run by Terri Blackstock

ifirunIf I Run by Terri Blackstock

My Rating: 4.5/5 TARDISes

Series: If I Run #1

Date Published: February 16th, 2016

Publisher: Zondervan

Pages: 305 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Casey knows the truth. But it won’t set her free.

Casey Cox’s DNA is all over the crime scene. There’s no use talking to police; they have failed her abysmally before. She has to flee before she’s arrested . . . or worse. The truth doesn’t matter anymore. 

But what is the truth? That’s the question haunting Dylan Roberts, the war-weary veteran hired to find Casey. PTSD has marked him damaged goods, but bringing Casey back can redeem him. Though the crime scene seems to tell the whole story, details of the murder aren’t adding up. Casey Cox doesn’t fit the profile of a killer. But are Dylan’s skewed perceptions keeping him from being objective? If she isn’t guilty, why did she run?

Unraveling her past and the evidence that condemns her will take more time than he has, but as Dylan’s damaged soul intersects with hers, he is faced with two choices. The girl who occupies his every thought is a psychopathic killer . . . or a selfless hero. And the truth could be the most deadly weapon yet.

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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.

First of all, I have to start off this review by saying that this book was responsible for pulling me out of the biggest reading slump I have ever experienced. This novel promised a fast-paced dose of mystery and suspense, and Terri Blackstock definitely delivered just that and so much more. It is a deceptively light read that ends up rooting itself in important and thought-provoking topics—very relevant in society today—packing more of a punch both emotionally and intellectually.

From the very start, the reader is thrown right into the middle of the action, and is fluidly swept up into this story of suspicious murders, dubious police work, and a heart-pounding, multi-state chase. With vividly portrayed characters and using two strong narrative voices to unfold this saga, it is a novel that pulls the reader in and hangs on through the bittersweet, cliffhanger ending.

In this novel, we follow Casey Cox and Dylan Roberts in a dual narrative as the mystery unravels and the chase gradually weaves their individual storylines together. Casey unexpectedly walks into—and becomes a part of—a crime scene when her best friend is murdered. With traces of her found all over this scene, she is immediately pegged as the sole person of interest in the murder. Having experienced previous unfair treatment at the hands of law enforcement officials, Casey realizes that her best chance at unveiling the truth, and even at staying alive, lies in her ability to escape—take herself completely off-the-grid.

Dylan Roberts has just returned home, tired and broken from his time serving in the army. Suffering from PTSD, he is finding it incredibly difficult to settle back into this style life that he has been so disconnected from. On top of his inner demons, he struggles against unfair treatment as he tries to find work again—many companies refusing to hire someone in an unreliable and fragile mental state.

Dylan seemingly gets a break when he is employed by the family of the murder victim to track down Casey and take her into custody; something that should be fairly straight-forward for him given his level of experience. However, he ends up facing off with an exceedingly clever girl who always seems to be a few steps ahead of him no matter what he does. And if that weren’t enough, when the information that he has been supplied begins to not add up with what he uncovers on his own, and the people he trusts start to look more like the villain they portray Casey to be.

This is a very character-driven novel, and Blackstock does a wonderful job of making each and every character an important element to the plot. Even those with smaller roles to play are distinctive and memorable, adding a strong foundation of realism to the narrative as a whole. Some secondary characters end up contributing a great deal to the overall plot, as well as creating some intriguing subplots—mysteries within a mystery.

Casey has definitely earned a place on the list of my all-time favorite female leads. She is resilient, intelligent, and brave from the very start, but she also displays weakness and fear, making her a highly relatable character. It would be hard not to fall in love with her, and cheer her on as she tackles obstacle after obstacle, and proves time and time again that she is an utterly selfless individual. She evolves a lot throughout a short period of time, and gains a great deal of personal strength and faith in multiple aspects of her life.

Dylan is another exceedingly intelligent and strong character. He has been through war in Afghanistan and is now fighting a war of his own—the inner turmoil that has been created from the horrors he has witnessed. Nevertheless, he pushes through, and devotes himself to the job he has been given, remaining independent and focused on what he takes away from his investigations, not just what one party would happily force him to believe. Casey and Dylan are very similar. Both broken, but not beyond repair. Both dealing with their own hardships, but never forgetting to remain true to themselves and do what they believe is right.

As far as the actual text itself, I found the writing to be very solid. I really enjoyed Blackstock’s style—it flowed very well throughout, even with the changing perspectives. Having more than one narrator and managing to give them each a distinct narrative voice can be very difficult, and Blackstock completely nailed it with her portrayal of Casey and Dylan. Both characters had clearly unique voices and personalities, and there was never a feeling of choppiness as the perspectives changed.

I found this to be such an engrossing read I could hardly put it down, and I did in fact end up reading it in one day. The end to every chapter is written in a way that isn’t necessarily a major cliffhanger, but leaves you craving more all the same. This is an adult novel, but the writing does tend to feel a bit more like a young adult novel. However, in my personal opinion, that does not detract from the story at all. In fact, it makes it accessible to a wider audience.

This is a novel that I would highly recommend, particularly to people who enjoy an exciting mystery and skilled characterization. I absolutely tore through this book, dying to know what would happen next and what the fate of these characters—both lovable and not so lovable—would be. I was completely sucked in from the first few pages.

The plot never slows down, with Blackstock masterfully creating some amount of suspense at the end of each chapter. It is an addictive read that is also quite intellectually stimulating and very full of substance. Teeming with love, loss, pain and ultimately hope, this is a novel that shows the unbelievable strength, courage, and faith that a person can have in the face of adversity.

4.5 TARDISes

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3 Days, 3 Quotes Tag – Day 3

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I’m currently traveling, so this is a scheduled post. At this point, I’m uncertain what my ability to access the Internet will be like while I’m gone, so I may not be able to respond to comments right away. I’ll definitely be back with regular access to the blog next week! 🙂

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I was tagged by three lovely book bloggers—T.K. Lawrence @ Read It or Not Reviews, Emma @ The Terror of Knowing and Becca @ Shih Tzu Book Reviews—to do the 3 Days, 3 Quotes tag! If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you’ll already know how much I adore quotes. Thank you guys so much for tagging me! Make sure you all take some time to go check out all of their blogs. 🙂 ❤

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“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”

– Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

I Tag:

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Loreva @ La Book Dreamer

Aralyn @ Paper Addictions & Magic

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3 Days, 3 Quotes Tag – Day 2

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I’m currently traveling, so this is a scheduled post. At this point, I’m uncertain what my ability to access the Internet will be like while I’m gone, so I may not be able to respond to comments right away. I’ll definitely be back with regular access to the blog next week! 🙂

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I was tagged by three lovely book bloggers—T.K. Lawrence @ Read It or Not Reviews, Emma @ The Terror of Knowing and Becca @ Shih Tzu Book Reviews—to do the 3 Days, 3 Quotes tag! If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you’ll already know how much I adore quotes. Thank you guys so much for tagging me! Make sure you all take some time to go check out all of their blogs. 🙂 ❤

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“When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then what remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

– Arthur Conan Doyle, The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes

I Tag:

Drew @ TheTattooedBookGeek

Diana @ Voices In My Head

Ara @ The Bookish Agenda

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