Blog Tour: Feral by Holly Schindler +GIVEAWAY

Today I welcome Holly to the blog! Her new book Feral is out (review tomorrow!) She is here today to talk a little about the opening scene in Feral. 

First a bit about Holly
Holly Schindler is the author of the critically acclaimed A BLUE SO DARK (Booklist starred review, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year silver medal recipient, IPPY Awards gold medal recipient) as well as PLAYING HURT (both YAs). 

Her debut MG, THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, also released in ’14, and became a favorite of teachers and librarians, who used the book as a read-aloud.  Kirkus Reviews called THE JUNCTION “...a heartwarming and uplifting story...[that] shines...with vibrant themes of community, self-empowerment and artistic vision delivered with a satisfying verve.” 

FERAL is Schindler’s third YA and first psychological thriller.  Publishers Weekly gave FERAL a starred review, stating, “Opening with back-to-back scenes of exquisitely imagined yet very real horror, Schindler’s third YA novel hearkens to the uncompromising demands of her debut, A BLUE SO DARK…This time, the focus is on women’s voices and the consequences they suffer for speaking…This is a story about reclaiming and healing, a process that is scary, imperfect, and carries no guarantees.”

Schindler encourages readers to get in touch.  Booksellers, teen librarians, and teachers can also contact her directly regarding Skype visits.  She can be reached at hollyschindlerbooks (at) gmail (dot) com, and can also be found at hollyschindler.com, hollyschindler.blogspot.com, @holly_schindler, Facebook.com/HollySchindlerAuthor, and hollyschindler.tumblr.com

Now about Feral!
The Lovely Bones meets Black Swan in this haunting psychological thriller with twists and turns that will make you question everything you think you know.

It’s too late for you. You’re dead. Those words continue to haunt Claire Cain months after she barely survived a brutal beating in Chicago. So when her father is offered a job in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out will offer her a way to start anew.

But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire feels an overwhelming sense of danger, and her fears are confirmed when she discovers the body of a popular high school student in the icy woods behind the school, surrounded by the town’s feral cats. While everyone is quick to say it was an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it, and vows to learn the truth about what happened.

But the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to realizing a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley….

Holly Schindler’s gripping story is filled with heart-stopping twists and turns that will keep readers guessing until the very last page.


Let's welcome Holly! 

I was able to ask Holly one question and after reading Feral I had to know about the beginning. The beginning of this novel is just “grab you completely and drag you into the story.” LOVED IT! 
So I asked her - Can you tell about how you decided on that beginning?

FERAL went through a complete overhaul during revision. Actually, the book started out being an MG about a girl solving a cold case that centered on her middle school. But as I started to revise, the book kept getting darker…so much so, I felt pretty strongly that the book needed to be bumped up into the YA category.

That sounds like a fairly simple process, but it was actually more like starting from scratch. Sure, the murder mystery element remained pretty much the same—the “cheating” element took on a new meaning in the YA version—but the manner of Serena’s death was identical. 


That was about the only thing that stayed the same, though. I knew that key elements were going to have to change—including the genre. Initially, I began to suspect what I would wind up with was YA horror (rather than a YA mystery)…And then I realized my main character was not working. At all. No matter how I tried, I just couldn’t age her up and move her into the YA category. She was so thirteen. Just not right for a YA. (I’ve actually kept the original protagonist in reserve, and have been brainstorming ideas for the “just right” project to put her in.) In trying to come up with a new protagonist, I began to brainstorm a character sketch for Claire Cain—and uncovered her backstory (that she’d survived a brutal gang beating in Chicago). That was when I knew the genre would be psychological thriller—and I also knew that the central theme was recovering from violence.

My editor really liked the chapters told from Serena’s POV—she encouraged me to move the first Serena chapter to the front of the book. I was concerned, though, that the readers’ heart and sympathy would be with Serena if we started the book from her POV—and this is Claire’s story. I knew I had to make what happened in Chicago more horrific than what had happened to Serena. So I wrote—and rewrote—the Chicago scene over and over, each time adding a few more rough, gritty details.

In this final version, too, Serena isn’t just in the book to tell her own story. She’s there as a metaphor for what happens to so many individuals in the aftermath of a violent event: As the book opens, Serena is unable to move forward, and still able to feel pain. That’s certainly where Claire is, too, as she crosses the city limits of Peculiar…



Thank you so much for sharing that! Love to hear how stories come together.

Check out the trailer and watch for my review tomorrow.

GIVEAWAY
To enter to win a signed copy of Feral fill out the Rafflecopter.

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Snap Shot Monday

In an effort to keep my blogging simple - on Monday's I just post a snap shot of the book I'm currently reading, just finished or will be starting next.

Today's Snap Shot


Afterparty by Ann Redisch Stampler


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Owl of the Week: Blanket


On Fridays I like to stop and share some owl related items I've found.  


I love owl things that aren't the typical cutesy owls.  When I saw this blanket on Etsy I kinda wanted to buy it because it wasn't typical owl.  Alas I have to babies to buy it for!

It's by QuiltPetaler and you can find it HERE.


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Book Review: Asylum by Madeleine Roux

Title: Asylum

Author: Madeleine Roux


For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, New Hampshire College Prep is more than a summer program—it's a lifeline. An outcast at his high school, Dan is excited to finally make some friends in his last summer before college. But when he arrives at the program, Dan learns that his dorm for the summer used to be a sanatorium, more commonly known as an asylum. And not just any asylum—a last resort for the criminally insane.

As Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan, explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they soon discover it's no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. Because the asylum holds the key to a terrifying past. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.



I'm going to keep this simple and quick.  I didn't hate this book, but there wasn't anything that made me really like it either.  It was just ok.  I LOVED the concept.  I mean seriously a book set in an old shutdown asylum! What is there is there not to love!  And the parts of the book that dealt with the the asylum were probably the best.  The first time they explore into the old part of the asylum that has been locked up and left just as it was was great! I loved that and wanted more.  Unfortunately there was so much in between those scenes that lost the momentum for me.   Let me explain more - the characters:  I really couldn't form any connection to them.  I liked Dan, but he really just remained a character on the page.  He never really came to life for me.  Plus he was suppose to be really smart and a great thinker, and I never saw that.  I became frustrated with his choices much of the time.  I felt the same with Jordan and Abby.  They just remained one dimensional.  I wanted to care for them, but I just had no strong reason to.

The other thing that bothered me was the dialogue between the three main characters.  I can't put my finger on exactly what bothered me, but it seemed overly simple or stiff or something.  It just didn't sound natural. And this doesn't go into the fact that they had just met yet they were "insta-friends", so that made it harder to accept how they talked.  

Lastly - I actually had parts of the plot figured out before it happened.  That never works for me! Can't go into it of course because I don't want to give things away.  But that really disappointment me.

Final thought: Great idea - not the greatest execution.  

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Book Trailer Release for PRESS PLAY +GIVEAWAY!!

Very excited today to take part in the release of the book trailer for Press Play!!!
This is being hosted by Me, My Shelf, and I tours/blasts. 

First about the book


PRESS PLAY
Author: Erid Devine
Release Date: October 28, 2014
Publisher: Running Press Kids

Greg Dunsmore, a.k.a. Dun the Ton, is focused on one thing: making a documentary that will guarantee his admission into the film school of his choice. Every day, Greg films his intense weight-loss focused workouts as well as the nonstop bullying that comes from his classmates. But when he captures footage of violent, extreme hazing by his high school’s championship-winning lacrosse team in the presence of his principal, Greg’s field of view is in for a readjustment.

Greg knows there is a story to be told, but it is not clear exactly what. And his attempts to find out the truth only create more obstacles, not to mention physical harm upon himself. Yet if Greg wants to make his exposé his ticket out of town rather than a veritable death sentence, he will have to learn to play the game and find a team to help him.

Combine the underbelly of Friday Night Lights with the unflinching honesty of Walter Dean Myers, and you will find yourself with Eric Devine’s novel of debatable truths, consequences, and realities.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Press-Play-Eric-Devine/dp/0762455128/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1411421944&sr=8-2&keywords=press+play

About the Author
Eric Devine is the author of multiple works of Young Adult fiction, most recently Dare Me, with Press Play being published 10/28. He is also a veteran high school English teacher who spends as much time teaching as he does completing field research for his novels. His work has been listed byYALSA and Booklist for reluctant readers and for Best in Sports. He is married to his high school sweetheart, and his wife and he have two wonderful daughters and two not-so-wonderful Labradors. Find out more at ericdevine.orgfacebook.com/ericdevineauthor, or Twitter: @eric_devine

Ok now for the trailer!

Looks fantastic doesn't it!!!

Now for the GIVEAWAY!
Must be 13+ To Enter | Ships in US only.

1 Winner will get a signed copy of PRESS PLAY and a PRESS PLAY phone case. (Winners chooses case size)


a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Cover Crush

I love book covers! Love them.  Sometimes it's like I'm crushing on them :)

Here is one I'm crushing on lately.

Suspicion by Alexandra Monir 

I love the soft purple of this one and the way the vine ties in to the font of the title.  Nicely done.


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Stuck In A Good Book Giveaway Hop!

I'm participating in the Stuck in a Good Book Hop hosted by Stuck in a Book and I'm a Reader, Not a Writer.


The last really good book I was stuck in was Charm & Strange.  I absolutely LOVED it!!  So I thought for this hop I'd give away my very gently used copy.  

About the Book

No one really knows who Andrew Winston Winters is. Least of all himself. He is part Win, a lonely teenager exiled to a remote boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts the whole world out, no matter the cost, because his darkest fear is of himself ...of the wolfish predator within. But he's also part Drew, the angry boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who, one fateful summer, was part of something so terrible it came close to destroying him. A deftly woven, elegant, unnerving psychological thriller about a boy at war with himself. Charm and Strange is a masterful exploration of one of the greatest taboos.

To find out more about the hop click HERE. And if you want to enter more giveaways, check out the list below!


To enter fill out the Rafflecopter.
Must be at least 13.
Must be a US resident.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Books in the Wild

I was at Barnes and Noble recently and these are some books that caught my eye.






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Waiting on Wednesday: Cut Me Free


This post is inspired by a meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine.

Today I'm waiting on:

Cut Me Free by J.R. Johansson
Release: January 27, 2015
Why:  It just looks plan fantastic!

Seventeen-year-old Charlotte barely escaped from her abusive parents. Her little brother, Sam, wasn't as lucky. Now she's trying to begin the new life she always dreamed of for them, but never thought she'd have to experience alone. She's hired a techie-genius with a knack for forgery to remove the last ties to her old life. But while she can erase her former identity, she can’t rid herself of the memories. And her troubled history won’t let her ignore the little girl she sees one day in the park. The girl with the bruises and burn marks.



That’s when Charlotte begins to receive the messages. Threatening notes left in her apartment--without a trace of entry. And they’re addressed to Piper, her old name. As the messages grow in frequency, she doesn’t just need to uncover who is leaving them; she needs to stop whoever it is before anyone else she loves ends up dead.
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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Authors I've Only Read One Book From But NEED to Read More

Hosted by Broke and Bookish

Today we are looking at the Top Authors I've Only Read One Book From But NEED to Read More

1.  Jennifer E. Smith.  I've only read This is What Happy Looks Like and really liked it, so I need to read more.



2. Gayle Forman.  I've only read Just One Day.  Loved it way more than I thought I would, so I need to read more.  I know there is a sequel of types for this book, so I plan on reading that one.  



3.  Rick Yancey.  I've read The 5th Wave only and I will NEED to read the sequel! 

3.  Megan Miranda.  I LOVED Hysteria, so I must read more.  I know that Fracture is supposed to be really good.  



4. S.A. Bodeen.  She wrote The Compound and I really really really liked it.  The sequel is now out, so I must read that.  



5.  Grethcen McNeil.  I read Ten this summer and loved the mystery in it, so I want to read more.  


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SnapShot Monday

In an effort to keep my blogging simple and quick, on Mondays I just share a picture of the book I'm currently reading, will read next or just finished.

Today it's:


First line: "No. Jon. No." Jon Evans sat upright in his bed. 
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Owl of the Week: Owl Print

Each Friday (well when I have time) I'll share something owl that is cute and fun.



I love Etsy for owl stuff.  I could go nuts there.  Today I found a cute owl print about reading. This would be perfect near your bookcase!

It's from ArtOfthePage.  You can find it HERE.





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Cover Crush: Sublime

I love book covers! You might even go as far as to say I crush on them!

Today I'm crushing on:

O.M.G. what a cover!! This one completely caught me when I saw it, and I had to take a closer look. The paleness of the girl - the way it looks windblown, how the "S" ties them together! It's just perfect!!


True love may mean certain death in a ghostly affair of risk and passion from New York Times bestselling duo Christina Lauren, authors ofBeautiful Bastard. Tahereh Mafi, New York Times bestselling author ofShatter Me calls Sublime “a beautiful, haunting read".

When Lucy walks out of a frozen forest, wearing only a silk dress and sandals, she isn’t sure how she got there. But when she sees Colin, she knows for sure that she’s here for him.

Colin has never been captivated by a girl the way he is by Lucy. With each passing day their lives intertwine, and even as Lucy begins to remember more of her life—and her death—neither of them is willing to give up what they have, no matter how impossible it is. And when Colin finds a way to physically be with Lucy, taking himself to the brink of death where his reality and Lucy’s overlap, the joy of being together for those brief stolen moments drowns out everything in the outside world. But some lines weren’t meant to be crossed…
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Book Review: Enemy by Charles Higson

Title: The Enemy (Enemy #1)
Author: Charles Higson


In the wake of a devastating disease, everyone sixteen and older is either dead or a decomposing, brainless creature with a ravenous appetite for flesh. Teens have barricaded themselves in buildings throughout London and venture outside only when they need to scavenge for food. The group of kids living a Waitrose supermarket is beginning to run out of options. When a mysterious traveler arrives and offers them safe haven at Buckingham Palace, they begin a harrowing journey across London. But their fight is far from over-the threat from within the palace is as real as the one outside it.


Hmmmmmm this is a tough one.  I really struggled reading this one, and I'm not sure why.  I love zombie-type books and this is definately one, but something about it didn't grab me.  I think the biggest reason had NOTHING to do with the book and the story and the writing.  I know it's the first book in a series, and I think part of me didn't want to like it because that meant I had another series to read! And if you don't know, this isn't a short book and neither are the rest of the books in the series. So really I think that affected my ability to really enjoy this book! Silly reason I know.

Ok what did I like: The characters were great.  Super strong and smart girl characters, so that's always a plus.  And the boy characters supported the roles of the girls.  They gave them respect and took their role as leaders seriously.  That makes this book awesome for that reason alone. For example - the kids from Waitrose have to decide what to do - should they follow this new guy that just showed up and believe him about Buckingham Palace?  Their leader - a guy - took the viewpoint of Maxie - a girl - seriously and under a lot of consideration.  AND when battles broke out, she was right there fighting too.  

I also like the multiple story lines.  There was the story of the Waitrose kids, but also the story of Small Sam as he tries to get back to his sister.  Both stories were strong, and they provided a much deeper understanding of what was happening throughout London.  I don't know if any of you are Walking Dead fans, but sometimes it's so frustrating because all you know is what is happening in their little group.  Because of The Enemy's multiple story lines, you know way more about what is happening! I really thought this made the story stronger.

About the "zombies".  First I don't think you can call them that because I don't believe they have died.  They have just been infected and look like death - although they serve the same purpose as zombies.  I think the best part of the sick adults is the hint that something about them is changing and that was creepy because it raised the stakes of survival much much higher.  The sick adults kept the tension high without over dominating the story and it only being about fighting them.  

What frustrated me - the ending because it is clearly made to pull you directly into the next book.  This is just what I feared.  Now I have another series hanging out there that I should finished.  The thing is, as much as I enjoyed this - it wasn't enough to make me jump right into the next book.  I know it would be good and filled with action and tension and battles etc, but it's not one I'm running to continue.  Which is why I only gave it a three owl rating. We'll see what happens.  I do know that several of my boy students LOVE this series and tear through them all!

Final thought:  Good but not my #1 "zombie" pick.  
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Top Ten Tuesday - Underrated Books or Authors



Today we are listing the top ten books and authors we feel don't get enough attention in the genre of our choice.  I chose a broader category and just went with books I feel need more attention in both YA and MG.

The Midnighters Series by Scott Westerfeld
I adored this series and wish more would read it.  Very cool concept!

Books of Elsewhere by Jacqueline West
Such cute books! Please read this series!

Dead City Series by James Ponti
A great zombie series for the middle grade set!

A Bad Case for Voodoo by Jeff Strand
I seriously laughed out loud while reading this book!

I so loved this book. Sweet story about a family dealing with loss.

Downsiders by Neal Shusterman
The first book I ever read by him.  I loved it so much and so wish he'd continue the story.

Breathe: A Ghost Story by Cliff McNash
 
Creepy!!! And weirdly my review of it has directed a ton of traffic to the blog. 

That you go a whole crop of books and series you need to get reading! Go to the bookstore now....I'll wait :)
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New Nancy Drew Covers


My daughter and I were shopping - looking at books of course.  She noticed the new covers for some Nancy Drew books.  She loved them when she was younger.  I remember taking her to the library and her eyes getting big when she saw how many of them there were!


Anyway I thought I'd share the new covers if you haven't seen them.




I think they are fantastic! Super cute and retro and appealing. Love them!

And while looking around for some info on the new covers I came across the website All About Nancy Drew.  It has a post about the new covers as well.  You can find it HERE.


Here are the other two they've redone



And super funny - Jana at Milk and Cookies felt the same way and did a post earlier almost identical to mine!  See it HERE.  And then follow her when you're there because she's great! 
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Owl of the Week: Owl Dress

Each Friday (well when I have time) I'll share something owl that is plain cute, adorable and fun.




I love the website Modcloth.  There are so many dresses I'd love to buy.  
Well they also have owl stuff.  
Look at this cute owl dress I found!


I LOVE it.  You can see more about it HERE on the Modcloth website.  

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Cover Crush: The Prom Goer's Interstellar Excursion


I love book covers! Love them.  I'd love to make wall art with them - maybe when I have my own home library room!

Here is one I'm crushing on lately.


I LOVE the font on this one.  It really grabs me.  And then all the hand-written pictures just makes the whole thing pop. 

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Book Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell


Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell

Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor
... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.

Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.





I've held off reviewing this book.  I'm not exactly sure why.  I think it's because before I read it I heard on and on and on about how great it was, how fantastic it was and so on.  So when I finished and didn't feel I could rave about it, I held off saying anything.  As you can see by my four owl rating that I did like it! I did! But I didn't LOVE it like I've seen from a lot of people.  

What I liked:  I liked the description of Eleanor's home life.  To put it simply her home life was bad.  Really bad.  Her mother's boyfriend was just horrible, and the situation Eleanor was put in with her mother and her brothers and sisters because of him hurt me to read about.  There were times reading about her home and how it was for her was painful for me.  As a teacher I kept thinking about my students and how some of them could be in that situation.  One scene keeps coming back to me.  In it Eleanor is talking to the school councilor.  Of course Eleanor doesn't want anyone to know what it's like for her at home - how they having nothing.  At the end of meeting with her Eleanor thinks something along the lines of "I almost asked her for a toothbrush".  It hurt my heart to think of her not even having a toothbrush to use!  And that pretty much summed up what it was like for her.  That part of the book was very strong, and for me what really made it a strong book.

Now the romance with Park.  It was so unbelievably sweet and simple and believable.  I found this a strong part of the book as well.  And I think why is because I saw it juxtaposed next to her home life and it both made me happy and sad for Eleanor.  Happy because it was a place she could feel safe and cared about.  But sad because there was also the stress of her mother's boyfriend hanging over it the whole time.  She could never feel fully safe and secure, so neither could I.  I loved how it started so small with just sitting with each other on the bus and Eleanor sneaking looks at his comic books.  I loved how it slowly unfolded and how strong their emotions became.  They really cared about each other.  Now as an adult I did shake my head some because I kept thinking their just teens when they get so serious with each other.  

What bothered me - the ending.  I'm going to talk about it without trying to give much away! I really struggled with it.  I understand why it ended how it did and what it was supposed to do for the story.  But it just left me feeling unfulfilled.  I felt like I had invested so much into caring for these to characters to have it end in such a way.  I felt like I should know more.  I know, I know - they aren't my characters and I don't "own" them in any way, and the author owes me nothing - it's her story! But I can't help but feel let down.  And that's what kept me from LOVING the book.  
In the end I love Eleanor beyond anything.  I wanted to hug her and tell her it would all be ok.  I wanted to know her in person.  I wanted her happiness and success.  She drove this story for me, and I'm glad I got to meet her.

Final thought - Enjoyed it a lot and glad I read it.  Just frustrated by the ending.  

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Top Ten Tuesday - Characters That Would Be at My Lunch Table


With school starting up we are looking at who would be sitting at the lunch table with us.  

I would love to say characters like Tris from Divergent or Katniss, but I know that had we gone to high school together we would've traveled in different social circles! I really wanted to include Jace from The City of Bones, but that would NEVER happen! :)

1. Percy Jackson from the Percy Jackson series.  He reminds me a lot of my guy friends in middle school and high school, so I know he'd be right there hanging out with us.

2. Mallory from Going Vintage because I'd love to go vintage too and dress from the 40's, so I would admire her style!

3.  Sophie from Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins.  I just love this girl! Although I'd be careful to not make her mad!!!

4. Violet from The Body Finder.  I think she's a smart, level-headed girl.  I would just like having her there!

5.  Rex Green from the Midnighters Series by Scott Westerfeld.  I love this series (more people should read it!) and Rex is my favorite character.  He's the most level headed. Super smart and not afraid to be who he is.

Who would be at your lunch table????
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SnapShot Monday

In an effort to keep my blogging quick and simple I started SnapShot Monday.  
On Mondays I post a picture of the book I'm currently reading, just finished or will be starting next.

Today it's:
Some day I'll finish this series. It's my guilty pleasure!
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