Monday, May 26, 2014

Review: Branded

Branded by Abi Ketner & Missy Kalicicki
A Sinners Series

Fifty years ago the Commander came into power and murdered all who opposed him. In his warped mind, the seven deadly sins were the downfall of society. He created the Hole where sinners are branded according to their sins and might survive a few years. At best. 
Now LUST wraps around my neck like blue fingers strangling me. I’ve been accused of a crime I didn’t commit and now the Hole is my new home. 

Darkness. Death. Violence. Pain. 

Now every day is a fight for survival. But I won’t die. I won’t let them win.

The Hole can’t keep me. The Hole can’t break me. 
I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter. 
My name is Lexi Hamilton, and this is my story.


I turn on the faucet for a long while only to discover ice-cold water rushing out. The water never warms and I begin to understand. The Commander thinks he can wash away my soul by freezing me to death. He thinks he can destroy me by stripping away my possessions. But he can’t and I won’t let him take my memories, my ambition, and my pride.
He thinks I’m so easily broken.
The Commander doesn’t know anything about me, what I grew up with, what I endured—the father I lost, the mother I hate, the brother who walked out of my life, and the stepfather I was forced to accept. He thinks since I was rich, making me poor will cause me to give up. What he doesn’t understand is that, after my father passed away, I grew up behind walls of hatred. I had nothing, but had everything at the same time. I owned expensive clothes, enjoyed good schooling, and lived in a nice home. But my body was just a shell protecting an empty, desperate heart. My life was a colorful fa├žade.
I had so much time to sit and think. I spent the majority of my life between four walls. I was abandoned, neglected, starved, betrayed, and abused. I’ve already been treated like the scum of the earth, so the Hole is nothing new. He wants to erase every sign of my existence on this earth, but I won’t let that happen. He can strip me naked, but he’ll never reach my soul.
It’s personal, completely personal.

My Review

First of all, stop right there! Open a new tab and go purchase a copy of Branded! 

I won't be able to get into words how much I love and recommend this book but I will give it a shot. From the second I started reading I was hooked. The first few chapters had more action than most books have overall! I loved the descriptions in this book it made everything feel so real.

I have to say I have read tons of dystopians and even a few horror books and none have disturbed me as much. I say this in the BEST way possible! I do have to warn squeamish readers, there are some graphic scenes but they add SO much to the story. It was a reminder of just how horrible this world was. Often times when I read dystopians I picture myself living in the world, and usually I think to myself that I could do it. In the case of Branded, I didn't even want to try because I don't think I could survive. The environment was so harsh and unforgiving. I loved that there was a lot more chaos in this world than you normally see in societies. In many books we are often painted this picture of Utopia and then shown the issues with it. Branded on the other hand painted the picture for what it was right from the start. 

I absolutely loved the characters. They all had so much personality. I must say though that my favorite character was Alyssa. She helped ME see beauty in even the darkest of situations. Another favorite character of mine was Sutton. He was a voice of reason and I loved seeing someone that had not let the Hole break them. Branded also had plenty of despicable characters that were so well written that I cringed at any mention of them!  

This book made me angry, uncomfortable, sad, happy, nervous, and hopeful. I enjoyed feeling all that. Sometimes we have moments in life devoid of certain emotions and it is important to remember to feel. I really enjoyed the uncomfortable parts because it led me to question my own tolerance. There were times where I questioned if I would have the energy or will to live in such a harsh society. The thing is, that the Hole is not complete fantasy. There are situations in parts of the world right now where that much harshness and violence is a fact of life for it's citizens. It made me really grateful for the society I live in now regardless of it's flaws.  

There is not much more I can say about this book without spoiling the experience. I read the book with out much knowledge about it and I am grateful for that! All I can say is please go out and buy this book! It is an amazing story of bravery, fear, love, and hope. I cannot wait until the next installment in the series! I need it NOW! :) 



About Abi and Missy 

Abi and Missy met in the summer of 1999 at college orientation and have been best friends ever since. After college, they added jobs, husbands and kids to their lives, but they still found time for their friendship. Instead of hanging out on weekends, they went to dinner once a month and reviewed books. What started out as an enjoyable hobby has now become an incredible adventure.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Review: Zoe and Zak and the Tiger Temple

Zoe & Zak and the Tiger Temple by Lars Guignard Read by Sonja Field
Genre: Middle Grade Magic, Fantasy Adventure. Ages 8-13

About the Book:
Zoe and Zak have learned some things since their first semester at Moonstock Himalayan Academy in India: #1 Don't trust the parrots. #2 Don't eat the food. #3 And most importantly . . . don't stick around if something crawls out of the lava hole beneath your school. Last semester, Zoe and Zak returned the first lost Noble Truth to its rightful home. Now, the seventh graders are back in India for their second semester at Moonstock, their boarding school high in the Himalayan mountains where impossible things seem to happen on a regular basis. School kicks off with the Activity Week Challenge in the tiny mountain kingdom of Bhutan where the students must deliver medical supplies. Things take a turn for the worse when Zak becomes deathly ill after an encounter with a strange floating bubble. On returning to Moonstock, Zoe and Zak discover that a creature has come through the lava hole far below their dormitory. When Zoe and Zak follow the creature, they soon learn what they must do. They have been tasked with finding the second lost Noble Truth--the Tiger Eye of Justice. Finding the Tiger Eye sounds like an impossible mission, and it's only made more confusing when Zak discovers that he has been given a powerful gift to help with the task. But Zak's new gift is a double-edged sword, and if Zoe and Zak don't find the Tiger Eye quickly, Zak's time will run out. The Tiger Temple takes Zoe and Zak deep into an exotic world of magical enchantment and heart-pounding action. It promises to be the most thrilling Zoe and Zak adventure yet.
Audio sample is under the cover on the audible page if you want to sample it.

Audible |  iTunes | Amazon  | GoodReads

  My Review:

I didn't have much experience with Audiobooks outside of realistic fiction because I was always afraid that it would be so much harder to get into a fantasy or adventure story without reading it myself. Zoe and Zak and the Tiger Temple definitely proved me wrong! The story just seemed to play right in front of my eyes like a movie and I found myself closing my eyes a lot while listening to it. I don't know what it was but in this case I feel the audio enhanced the story so well. I sometimes find that audiobooks can drag on a bit and the sentences just become a blur but in this case I hung to every word! I wanted to keep listening and I felt like I was part of the adventure: Zoe and Zak and Judith! :)

The story itself was great! I find that most Middle Grade novels have epic adventures, and this was no different. One of my favorite things about Zoe and Zak and the Tiger Temple was the setting! I absolutely love when books take place in foreign lands! This book was like taking a much cheaper flight right into the Himalayan Mountains of India! Regardless of all the crazy and dangerous things they face in those mountains, I found myself wanting to go!! I loved Zoe and Zak as characters because they embodied everything we wished we were as kids. They were living out the fantasy and the adventure I could only have dreamed about when I was their age. That's not to say that both Zoe and Zak don't deal with some issues all of us can relate to, such as bullying, embarrassment, and the joys of success. 

I listened to this one with out having read the previous two and I didn't feel out of the loop at all. I love series like this when you can jump in at any point and enjoy each individual story on it's own. I do however plan on picking up both very soon because I was left wanting more! Overall I HIGHLY recommend this book! Not just for your child but for yourself as well! It doesn't matter what age you are, we can all take something away from Zoe and Zak. I know it left me wanting to be more brave and adventurous! It also teaches us the meaning and value of friendship and that is something we all need to remember. So buy yourself a copy, sit outside, and prepare yourself for a magnificent, magical adventure! 

  About the Author:

Prior to writing novels, Lars Guignard wrote for film and television. As a teenager he attended boarding school in the Indian Himalayas and his experiences there provided the inspiration for the Zoe and Zak series which now include: Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopardand Zoe & Zak and the Yogi’s Curse and Zoe & Zak and the Tiger Temple.
He lives in the Pacific Northwest where he dodges bears and cougars while hiking & skiing the magnificent Coast Mountain Range.
For news about new releases, please join his email list here: Zoe&
He can also be reached at the following places:
About the narrator: Sonja Field combines her life-long passion for reading with her skill as an actress to bring audiobooks to life! A dynamic and versatile narrator, she has logged hundreds of hours recording textbooks with an organization called Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic. She loved recording the action-packed Zoe & Zak and the Yogi’s Curse because of its wealth of colorful, quirky, and memorable characters.    



a Rafflecopter giveaway  

This tour was organized by CBB Book Promotions.

Cover Reveal: The Summer Sacrifice by Holly Hinton

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Today we are excited to share the cover process via images and the final cover for the middle grade fantasy The Summer Sacrifice by Holly Hinton.  The book is scheduled for release on June 21st, 2014.
The cover artist has provided us with the images to show the process of creating the cover.
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 These three concept images were the first pictures David created for The Summer Sacrifice. Thumbnail A evoked the atmosphere of a mysterious fantasy, B gave the impression of a teenage classic, and C was more poetic in tone. Holly settled on a mixture of A and B as the basis for David to start constructing the final cover.
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These drawings were 'speed-painted' by David. They are rough in nature as their purpose was to help decide the cover's general colour scheme.
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David drew a detailed sketch of the friendship group. He used this as a guide for the final painting of the group on the cover. He kept the 'camera' low, almost on the floor, to make the characters look more heroic and the serpent bonfire bigger. He worked to get a sense of wind into the image to give it an outdoor feeling and to add dynamism, and also to break up the composition's symmetry.
David paid great attention to working out the many light sources in the painting, and particularly how they would interact with the faces and bodies of the five central characters. There is a strong backlight from the fire, a mix of bounced lights from the environment, and diffuse bluish light from the sky.
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This version of the cover is close to the final one. The serpent and the title still required small changes, and David also did some other general polishing, including painting the moon's glow onto the vines and leaves framing the picture, and adding the stars.
This screenshot shows the front, back and spine of the cover from inside Krita, the open-source software David uses to create his work.
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The final cover for the paperback.
The final cover for the ebook.

Book Description: Three hundred years ago, the Great Goddess sent a storm to destroy mankind. She nearly succeeded. One island survived. These days, the Goddess stops the spread of evil by sacrificing the Island’s rotten teenage souls. Or so the story goes... . When Jamie Tuff survives her Taking, she thinks her worst nightmares are behind her. But then her soul starts wandering into other people’s bodies, and she discovers that the Island harbours a deadly secret. Now, she must save her little world from a fate worse than—well, worse than what the Goddess has already done to it. Join Jamie Tuff and friends on their adventures through land, sea and sky, in a world where stars walk and Halfhawks fly.

About the Cover Designer:
David Revoy (nickname Deevad), is a french artist living in the south of France.  He has more than 10 years of experience working remotely as a freelancer. His skills and expertise includes illustrationart-directionconcept-art and teaching. In short: he's a 2D artist (he uses drawing, painting, digital painting techniques) and paints custom artworks for books, posters, board-games, video-games and movies. His clients are located all around the world.
Since 2009 he has painted using only free and open-source software. He uses Krita, Mypaint, and Gimp on Linux. This technical choice doesn't affect compatibility with his clients: he still provides industry standards and can work or open any regular files.
He can be followed on Google+TwitterTumblr or deviantArt.

About the Author:

hollyHolly grew up in a small, sleepy village in Suffolk. The acting bug hit her at age nine, when she was asked to play Baboushka in the school nativity. That same year she played the lead role of a naughty black poodle in a pet parlour themed ballet, and she thought she had made it. Years passed, but the acting bug didn’t. She went to Goldsmiths, University of London to study Drama, after which she completed her actor training at Arts Ed.
Writing a book was never part of the plan. But life’s full of swerves and surprises and ideas dropping into people’s heads. Holly had an idea drop into hers, and that idea became The Summer Sacrifice, and The Summer Sacrifice became the first book of the Master Game Series.

For more information please visit:
Goodreads | Facebook | Tumblr | Twitter | Pinterest

This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Bout of Books Update: Days 1, 2, and 3

Hey lovelies,

So you remember last week when I said I would be putting up daily updates...well that went well. NOT! I'm terribly sorry but life gets to you sometimes. :(

Anyways, this will be a collective update of days 1-3. There is not a terribly big amount to report so might as well put it all together.


Monday was a big flop reading wise. I think I got like 50 pages read, if that. I picked up City of Ashes and took it to work with me with the intention of getting some reading done during my lunch break. Between getting some food, eating, and constant interruptions from co-workers, 13 pages was all I got read. Then when I got home later that night I read a bit more and then I was too tired to continue.


Tuesday was a pretty great reading day for me. I had the day off so I woke up at around 8:30 AM and began reading at around nine. I read most of the day, taking a break to clean up a bit. I got about 400 pages read! Meaning I finished City of Ashes. It was great!! I didn't want to pick up City of Glass right away because I needed a small break. I ended up watching some Booktube videos instead. BUT I did order City of Fallen Angels, City of Lost Souls and The Shadowhunter's Codex! I am so excited to hopefully catch up in this series before City of Heavenly Fire comes out May 27th!


I haven't gotten much reading done today. I did read the bonus scene between Magnus and Alec, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I also picked up City of Glass and read about 100 pages. AND then I watched the live show for TFIOS music! Which isn't reading but it is book related! :) I am not sure how much more I will read before the night is over. I am hoping to finish City of Glass tomorrow but I am not so sure seeing as I have to do some reading for Uni. Regardless I am really enjoying this read-a-thon!

Let me know how you guys have done and what you are reading now!


Monday, May 12, 2014

So You Want To Be A #GIRLBOSS ?

Review: #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso

Author: Sophia Amoruso

Year: 2014
Pages: 256
Format: Hardcover

The founder of Nasty Gal offers a sassy and irreverent manifesto for ambitious young women

At seventeen, Sophia Amoruso decided to forgo continuing education to pursue a life of hitchhiking, dumpster diving, and petty thievery. Now, at twenty-nine, she is the Founder, CEO, and Creative Director of Nasty Gal, a $100+ million e-tailer that draws A-list publicity and rabid fans for its leading-edge fashion and provocative online persona. Her story is extraordinary—and only part of the appeal of #GIRLBOSS.

This aspirational book doesn’t patronize young women the way many business experts do. Amoruso shows readers how to channel their passion and hard work, while keeping their insecurities from getting in the way. She offers straight talk about making your voice heard and doing meaningful work.

She’s proof that you can be a huge success without giving up your spirit of adventure or distinctive style. As she writes, �I have three pieces of advice I want you to remember: Don’t ever grow up. Don’t become a bore. Don’t let The Man get to you. OK? Cool. Then let’s do this.” ~ Goodreads 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Bout of Books!

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 12th and runs through Sunday, May 18th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 10 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team


It is once again time for the Bout of Books Read-a-thon and I could not be more excited! Last time when I participated I did really well reading around 6 or 7 books. This time around I am working and so I don't think I will be able to read as much. :( Regardless it is motivation to get some reading done!

This go around I am not making a TBR list at all. I have been mood reading a lot lately and I really have no clue what I am going to want to read this week. The only one I am sure I will pick up is City of Ashes since I just finished City of Bones. Everything else is up in the air and I'll find out as I go along. I am however setting myself the goal of reading 4 books. I think it might be a little high considering I have to work but if I manage my time I should be able to.

I will try to do separate daily updates with how much I read and what I am thinking about the book so far. And I will also try to do as many challenges as I can. They are so much fun!

Let me know if you are participating and what you will be reading!!! :)


Saturday, May 10, 2014

THIS IS SARAH by Ally Malinenko Cover Reveal!

I am very excited to have Ally Malinenko on the blog today, sharing the cover of her YA novel, THIS IS SARAH, and talking about writer's block. Take it away, Ally!

Writer’s block is defined by Merriam-Webster as a psychological inhibition preventing a writer from proceeding with a piece. Though I believe many writers would instead refer to it as the paranoia that cripples, maims, and destroys their once bright and shining future.

Personally I don’t believe in writer’s block. Now, that isn’t to say that I don’t have trouble. I have entire months where it’s like pulling teeth and every word – every LETTER of every word - is painful. And I have months where I write and write and write and then wake up and realize that back on page 50 I made a horrible decision and now my whole plot is a tangled hopeless mess. Or that the great story idea I had in my head turned to utter rubbish once it was put down on paper. Or my revision is useless because I can’t see past the forest of text I’ve already put down. Or I have no good ideas to begin with.

Every single one of those things has happened to me and I still don’t believe in writer’s block because of one simple notion. Discipline. And by discipline I mean creating a segment of time, every day if you can, where you write. Once you dedicate yourself to that you create discipline. You start saying things like, “it’s 8 pm. I should be writing.” Or “I need to do 500 words by the end of this hour.”

This is why NaNoWriMo is so successful and motivating for people. It sets parameters (word count and the notion of “winning”) on something that is creative and therefore considered ethereal. Once you lock it down by time or by word count, once you have parameters, you have dedicated yourself to a goal. Half the battle is already won.

I get up at 5 am to write. It wasn’t my idea, it was my husband’s. He’s a writer too. And he reasoned that if he got up every morning at 5 am he could write for two hours before he had to go to work. Two solid hours, before the day started to chip away at him. Two solids hours where the only thing that mattered was getting the word down. I watched and laughed, pulling the blanket around me. No way was I giving up sleep.

Then I saw that it worked. So I tried it. And it was horrible. And then it was slightly less horrible. I’ve been doing it for years now and like any muscle, creativity thrives on exercise. It works because I’ve created a physical space and time where the only thing that happens is writing. For those two hours, that is all I do. And the magic is that when I don’t do it, when I skip it and sleep in, I feel guilty about it. I feel like I missed an opportunity to do something creative for myself. And I hate feeling that way. Also my routine allows for preparation. I can say, “What am I going to work on tomorrow?” or “Where am I going with that short story?” and brainstorm on my commute.

That said I sometimes still stare at the screen and wonder what I’m doing. I still have doubts. I still mess up. I still realize that I derailed the whole novel back at page 50. Some mornings are absolute rubbish and I wake up the next day and delete the previous 2 hours worth of writing. Sometime I do that for a whole week until I find my way. Sometimes it’s baby steps, teeth-grinding hair-pulling baby steps, but baby steps none the less. Every step is a step forward. I’m a firm believer in forward progress. And it stops me from locking up, completely giving into the fear, and giving up for good.

Now I’m not saying that everyone has to give up sleep. That was my choice. But writing has to become a priority and parameters need to be set. Something must be sacrificed to the gods.

First you need discipline. Then you can be ethereal.

About the author:
Ally Malinenko is the author of the poetry collection, The Wanting Bone (Six Gallery Press), and the children’s novel Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb (Antenna Books). This Is Sarah is her first YA book. Ally lives in Brooklyn with her husband and a very ridiculous tabby cat. She blogs at and you can follow her on twitter at @allymalinenko. 

About the book:
When Colin Leventhal leaned out his bedroom window on the night of May 12th and said goodbye to his girlfriend, he never expected it would be forever. But when Sarah Evans goes missing that night, Colin's world unravels as he is transformed from the boyfriend next door to the main police suspect. Then one year later, at her memorial service, Colin makes a phone call that could change everything. Is it possible that Sarah is still alive? And if so, what is Colin willing to do to bring her back?
And as Colin struggles with this possibility, across the street, Sarah’s little sister Claire learns how to navigate the strange new landscape that is life without her sister. Even as her parent’s fall apart, Claire is determined to keep on going. Even if it kills her.

THIS IS SARAH is a meditation on loss, love, and what it means to say goodbye.

Cover design by Anita B. Carroll at

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Being A Mood Reader

Hey lovely readers!

I wanted to pop in for a bit and tell you about a little struggle I sometimes have. I am a complete and utter mood reader. What do I mean by that? Well, simply put, if I'm not in the mood for it I won't read it. End of story.

Now, for the most part this isn't too big a deal. I simply never make set TBR's for that reason, and I am fine with that. But every now and then a themed read-a-thon comes along and I get all excited about joining in UNTIL I remember that I won't be able to stick to it. I might make it through one or two books in my list if I am lucky but I am sure to deviate.

How bad is it really? Well, my boyfriend makes fun of me because I will sit in front of my bookshelf for a good 30 minutes and stare at it until a book calls out to me. Sometimes not even one does. I might be reading a great book and get a sudden urge to pick up another one and devour it in one sitting. This was the case last week when in the middle of Spell Bound (which I was totally LOVING btw) I had a sudden urge to read To All the Boys I've Loved Before. Then as soon as I was done I picked up Alienated only to put it down half way so that I could finish Spell Bound. Kooky I know!

I started thinking about this yesterday because I was REALLY excited about the AYEARATHON
read-a-long that is going on this week. The theme is finishing up or catching up on series. I thought GREAT I can pick up Prodigy and Champion by Marie Lu and finish up the series! Except I picked up Prodigy last night and couldn't get past the FIRST chapter! I had ZERO interest in it. So what was I in the mood for? City of Bones, which I have owned for THREE years and never been in the mood to pick it up! Am I the only one that does this??! 

I am still telling myself that I am participating in the read-a-thon because who knows, I might pick up something else that DOES fall into the theme later on this week. As for all you lovely readers out there who CAN stick to TBR's I commend you. Apparently the books control my will power. But I am not complaining. 95% of the time I love or really like what I read and I think that is mainly because that is what I want to be reading at that moment. I guess for me it is better this way than reading a book and not enjoying it because I wasn't in the mood for it.

What kind of reader are you?
Let me know which you prefer so maybe I won't feel like the only weird one! :)


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Judith's Cozy Reads

Hello lovely readers!

I am so sorry for our small absence! Both me and Kristy have been swamped with work, home life and school. BUT we are back and ready to rock! :)

Speaking of rocking, don't forget to check out my previous post for Heather Letto's IMPERVIOUS! Not only does the book sound amazing but there is a giveaway for a chance to win a signed copy and a gift card! Even if you don't win you can go and purchase IMPERVIOUS for only 99 cents! Please support this lovely author!

Now on to my current reads!

I actually have Friday and Sunday off this week and so I am hoping to get A LOT of reading done! I have quite a number of books that I have started but haven't gotten the chance to finish for one reason or another.

The first book I am hoping to finish is Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins. This is the third and final book in the Hex Hall trilogy. I absolutely LOVE this series! It is so action packed and the humor in it is laugh out loud funny! I am currently on page 244 out of 327. I haven't finished this not because I am not enjoying it but I tend to do this with the last book in a series. I am so afraid of it ending that it takes me so long to get through! With Allegiant I was only able to read about 50 pages a day before I was filled with anxiety about the series coming to an end!

The second book I want to finish is Alienated by Melissa Landers. I am totally in love with this book! I read most of it in one sitting and picked it up a bit today at work during lunch. I am about 150 pages from finishing and I have no idea where it is headed! I am loving the incorporation of the L'eihr language. Lately I am for all things aliens and space!

The third book I am planning on picking up but more than likely not finishing is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling. I am slowly making my way through the series again and am in no rush to finish because I want to enjoy them all over again. So if I read 300 or 50 pages this weekend I will be happy! I am currently on page 117, so not very far in.

The last two books are Susan Mallery books. I love her books because they are so fun and simply make me so happy! The first is the audio book for Just One Kiss which I am about half way through. I mostly listen to it while I am cooking or cleaning so I am not sure if I will actually finish this one this weekend. The second is the newest release in paperback for When We Met. I haven't started this one yet so this will be my treat if I finish Spell Bound and Alienated!

I know it seems like a lot to read in just one weekend BUT I think I will be able to get through most of it. I am so excited to be able to just sit and read for a couple hours! Let me know what you will be reading this weekend!

Some upcoming posts to look forward to:

*Several Book Hauls
*Kristy's Cozy Reads
*Year-a-thon TBR
*Bout-of Books TBR
*To All The Boys I've Loved Before Review
*Paper Towns Review