Giveaways, The Year In Reviews

Simply the Best 2014: The Finale – The Year In Reviews and a Giveaway

2014

We have reached the end of our journey, folks, the final choices for our Top Reads of 2014. In case you’ve missed the others, check out Sammy’s and Tina’s selections HERE; Jackie’s, Lana’s, and Jules’ HERE; Lynn’s and Chris’s HERE; and Kim’s and Kathie’s HERE.

Rena and I are the last to go, and I paired the two of us together because we each, by coincidence, themed our lists just a bit. Rena’s choices are not only all selected from the Historical sub-genre, but they are also unique to the genre, each in their own ways. For my selections this year, you’ll find some among them (and yes, I listed two series because I’m a big cheater) are self-published, one falls under the Historical sub-genre, two of them are Alt U/Alt History, and one of them is a chronologized serial set in the 1980s world of sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll. And one features a group of some of the most charming and twisted killers I’ve ever read.

As we’ve reached the end of the line and are now looking forward to discovering some of the best books of 2015, The Novel Approach is offering you the chance to win a $25 Gift Card to Amazon or All Romance eBooks, winner’s choice! Just click the Rafflecopter image to enter before Midnight Pacific time on Saturday, January 3, 2015.

Good luck!

Rafflecopter Giveaway

And now, here are Rena’s and my selections for the best of the best this year had to offer.

Dividers

Rena:

21529170Flight of Magpies by KJ Charles:Flight of Magpies is another brilliant addition to KJ Charles’ magnificent A Charm of Magpies series. Reading the book was one of those instances where I was so deeply immersed in Lucien and Stephen’s world that I actually got upset when I realized how far I’d gone and how little I had left to read. It’s an experience that’s not new to me; it began with The Magpie Lord, and it had yet to show signs of fading or slowing down. That said, I don’t want it to happen, considering how much I adore this series.”

 

23202149Bloodline by Jordan L. Hawk: “Fans of Jordan L. Hawk’s Whyborne and Griffin series are in for a pretty dark treat with Bloodline – with a generous dose of tragedy, at that, but in ways that are a lot more complicated than simply death. As an installment of the series, Bloodline is perhaps the darkest and grimmest so far, but it does end in bittersweet hope that marks a new era, so to speak, for the characters involved.

The stakes in this book are significantly higher because everything becomes personal for Whyborne. We get to see his family’s history, which is intricate and bizarre and is steeped in magic.”

22544017Prosperity by Alexis Hall: “The first thing you’ll notice when you crack open Alexis Hall’s Prosperity is that the book’s written in some pretty heavy vernacular. Piccadilly, an orphan and a guttersnipe, narrates the story with so much sass and attitude to spare that his language, if at first a little challenging to get into if you’re not expecting it, almost serves like an emphatic exclamation point to his hilarious commentary. As he’s grown up in the streets of London, he’s illiterate and is sadly hardened for a boy his age (eighteen, he reckons, but isn’t sure), and his interactions with so many different characters – mostly adults who’re educated in varying degrees – are a never-ending source of delight. He’s alternately exasperated, mystified, resentful, contemptuous, and childish in his dealings with his fellow adventurers. And from a hardened urchin who thinks lowly of himself, Dil gradually develops into a cautiously hopeful young man who starts to believe that, hey, he’s got some worth, after all.”

bsb-juniorwillisJunior Willis by Richard Natale: “Richard Natale’s Junior Willis is a beautifully subdued account of a man’s sexual maturation during some of the most tumultuous decades in the 20th century. The novella begins in the 1950s, when Tom Larson’s first tour of duty in the Korean War places him in the path of Colonel Philip Dore, a married and closeted gay man who awakens Tom’s true nature. From here on, the story follows Tom through the years as he not only falls in love, but also gets himself hurt again and again, the miserable laws of the times compounding the pain by forcing him to suppress his needs and lose himself in work, if not seek comfort and questionable companionship in brief and unsatisfying liaisons.”

22224746Mending Him by Summer Devon and Bonnie Dee: “There’s no emotional wallowing in this book, which can be the downfall of historical gay romances, given the outlaw nature of same-sex relationships. Part of the book’s strength lies in the authors’ masterful use of restraint in laying out the complications and the triumphs not only of the lovers, but also of the Chester family, whose loving relationship with the two men shapes painful choices they all make along the way. The resolution to the problem of gay lovers in the 19th century is also plausible; modern readers might grieve over the lack of an out and proud relationship, but in their practical and emotionally rewarding way, Robbie and Charles prove to us that men in their position can carve out a happy life together, regardless of society and, especially, family. There’s defiance tempered by prudence and vice-versa, and one can’t ask for anything more.”

Dividers

Lisa:

17453304Chance Assassin: A Story of Love, Luck, and Murder by Nicole Castle: “I’m in awe of this author’s ability to write a story starring not one but two characters who should be unappealing in every way. Nicole Castle has made Frank and Vincent loveable to a degree that has left me obsessing over this book. It’s a hallmark of truly brilliant storytelling I haven’t experienced since reading Maria McCann’s As Meat Loves Salt and I fell for the insane Jacob Cullen. This author’s writing style is fresh, her characters funny and vibrant, her version of romance refreshing, and this book is one disturbing, endearing, horrifying, and sexy surprise after another.”

WicklowsOdysseyWicklow’s Odyssey by R. Cooper: “The timing of this book couldn’t be more perfect, and you don’t have to be a Civil War history major to appreciate the events that build up to one of the more tension filled and action packed climaxes I’ve ever read in a book. You need only know the motives for the war, who fought it, and its outcome to understand how beautifully R. Cooper has twisted it to suit this clockwork, steam driven adventure, where a great iron beast is the Trojan horse that, if not lamed, could bring victory to the South. Every single anachronism purposefully woven into this novel does nothing but add to the sense of intrigue, every single character introduced along the way not only adds to the adventure but also exposes more about Wicklow Doyle, revelations that are sometimes frustrating, sometimes heart-tugging as he tries to understand what he’s feeling, but each and every one is a new layer peeled away from this complex man’s prickly exterior.”

BSB-TurnbullHouseTurnbull House by Jess Faraday: “With its (The Affair of the Porcelain Dog) brilliant and stunning sequel, Turnbull House, the continuing story if former rentboy, Ira Adler, and his ex-lover Cain Goddard (the infamous Duke of Dorset) Jess Faraday has done nothing more than secured her place on my must-read-authors list, and did it in little more than the opening paragraphs of this book.

With characters who are layered with charm and complexity, settings that play out visually like a full color series of daguerreotypes on the mind, a mystery that reveals how far apart Ira and Goddard have grown since Ira walked out two years before, and a fluid prose that draws the reader into the lives of the characters and the time of the story, Turnbull House is as flawless a historical novel as I’ve ever read.”

Daron_Omnibus_Cover_500px1-231x300Daron’s Guitar Chronicles (Volumes One thru Five) by Cecilia Tan: “As addictive as any books I’ve ever read, as heart-rending as any series I’ve ever loved, Daron’s Guitar Chronicles is, if not perfect, the quintessential compilation of music, drugs, sex, love, lust, and pain. My one fear as I got farther along in Daron’s saga was that the author would fail in her effort to keep this storyline fresh and vibrant and emotionally encompassing through its hundreds of chapters. I’m happy to report she damn well did. Daron’s Guitar Chronicles is a brilliant feat in fiction, far too luminous for this simple 5 star rating.”

2146294723251880Baal’s Heart (Caged and Sacrificed) by Bey Deckard: “Bey Deckard has written a book that’s a study in contradiction and a sublime characterization of three men who will eventually become one, introducing two characters in the dominant Baltsaros and the submissive Tom, two men who should be difficult, if not impossible, to love, but then makes it entirely impossible not to love them. When Jon comes between them, through no fault of his own, and then falls in love with both his captain and with Tom, becoming the foundation upon which both men will anchor themselves, Jon risks not only losing his heart but his sense of self, in the process, and it’s an evolution that’s a glory to witness.”

“As impressed as I was by Bey Deckard’s debut, Sacrificed has exceeded any and all expectations I might have had for the follow up to Caged. It’s a grand adventure the author is taking us on, a journey of heart, soul, and imagination that promises, at the end, even more to discover as this extraordinary series continues.”

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Giveaways, The Year In Reviews

Simply the Best: 2014 – The Year in Reviews and a Giveaway

2014

It’s hard to believe we find ourselves at the end of another year. Time flies when your nose is buried in a book, doesn’t it? But what and where would The Novel Approach be without our love of reading? Each year at this time, we work hard to compile our lists of favorite books to share with you, which is never easy. Twelve months and hundreds of titles means whittling down to our favorite few, which also means some wonderful books get left off the list in our effort to recognize those that were the most memorable.
Continue reading

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The Year In Reviews

2013 – The Year In Reviews



Happy New Year’s Eve, everyone! The TNA crew has been busily compiling our list of the top reads of 2013, which is never easy considering we read and review hundreds of books each year, but we’ve managed to come up with a few that we felt stood out from all the rest and have put them together for you.

They are in no particular order, just the books and characters that made us think, laugh, cry, smile, or touched our hearts and minds in their own unique ways. We’ve also included a special category just for cover love, in honor of our own A.J. Corza, whom we miss terribly and look forward to returning after the first of the year.

As a special celebration of these and the many more hundreds of books that aren’t on this list because of space constraints, but very well could have been, The Novel Approach would like to give you the chance to weigh in on your own favorites.

THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

And now, here they are—our Top Picks of 2013

Favorite YA/Coming-of-Age

Lisa:

    1.) Fearless by Chris O’Guinn
    2.) Atom Heart John Beloved by Luke Hartwell
    3.) The Battle for Jericho by Gene Gant

Tina:

    1.) Omorphi by Cody Kennedy
    2.) The Cost of Loving by Wade Kelly
    3.) Just Between Us by JH Trumble

Jackie:

    1.) Memorizing You by D.W. Skinner
    2.) Not Broken, Just Bent by Mia Kerick
    3.) Superhero by Eli Easton

Lynn:

    1.) Relationships 101 (Dear Diary 3) by Allison Cassatta

BJ:

    1.) Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Favorite Contemporary

Lisa:

    1.) Muscling Through by JL Merrow
    2.) King Mai by Edmond Manning
    3.) Disasterology 101 by Taylor V. Donovan

Tina:

    1.) Billy’s Bones by Jamie Fessenden
    2.) With or Without Him by Barbara Elsborg
    3.) Catch My Breath by MJ O’Shea

Jackie:

    1.) A White Coat is My Closet by Jake Wells
    2.) Hungry for Love by Rick R Reed
    3.) More Than Everything by Cardeno C

Lynn:

    1.) Double Full by Kindle Alexander

Lana:

    1.) The Trouble with Tony (Sex in Seattle #1) by Eli Easton
    2.) The Hardest Thing by James Lear
    3.) Stripped Clean by Ellis Carrington

BJ:

    1.) Blame it on the Mistletoe by Eli Easton
    2.) Probation by Tom Mendicino
    3.) Home Team by James Dash

Favorite Historical

Lisa:

    1.) The Impetuous Afflictions of Jonathan Wolfe by Charlie Cochet
    2.) Counterpoint: Dylan’s Story by Ruth Sims
    3.) Widdershins (Whyborne & Griffin #1) by Jordan L. Hawk

Lynn:

    1.) A Place To Call Their Own by L. Dean Pace-Frech

BJ:

    1.) The Lion and the Crow by Eli Easton

Favorite Fantasy (Incl. Urban Fantasy/Alt U/Steampunk/Sci-Fi/Fairy Tales)

Lisa:

    1.) The Mingled Destinies of Crocodiles and Men by Eric Arvin
    2.) The Lodestar of Ys by Amy Rae Durreson
    3.) Infected: Undertow by Andrea Speed

Jackie:

    1.) Black Dog Blues by Rhys Ford
    2.) Moral Authority by Jacob Flores
    3.) The Harvest: Taken by M.A. Church

Lynn:

    1.) The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Deanna Wadsworth

Lana:

    1.) Submerging Inferno by Brandon Witt
    2.) Rising Frenzy by Brandon Witt
    3.) Full Moon Dating by Julia Talbot

Favorite Paranormal

Lisa:

    1.) The Magpie Lord (A Charm of Magpies #1) by KJ Charles
    2.) Spook Squad (PsyCop #7) by Jordan Castillo Price
    3.) Someday It Will Be by S.A. McAuley

Jackie:

    1.) The Haunted Heart by Josh Lanyon
    2.) Fish & Ghosts by Rhys Ford
    3.) Airos by Jennifer Wright

Lynn:

    1.) Thicker Than Water by A. F. Henley

Lana:

    1.) Every Drop of My Love by Jane Davitt
    2.) Bloody Love Spats by Valentina Heart
    3.) Blood Moon by MJ O’Shea

BJ:

    1.) Last Dance With Mary Jane by John Goode

Favorite Series

Lisa:

    1.) The Borders War Series by S.A. McAuley
    2.) The Wode Series by J Tullos Hennig
    3.) The Whyborne & Griffin Series by Jordan L. Hawk

Tina:

    1.) The Collars & Cuffs Series by KC Wells
    2.) The Market Garden Series by Alexsandr Voinov & L.A. Witt
    3.) The City Knight Series by T.A. Webb

Jackie:

    1.) The Cut & Run Series by Abigail Roux
    2.) The Diversion Series by Eden Winters
    3.) The Johnnies Series by Amy Lane

Lynn:

    1.) The Broken Series by Kol Anderson

Lana:

    1.) The Men of Myth Series by Brandon Witt

Favorite Couple

Lisa:

    1.) Cole McGinnis and Kim Jae Min – The Cole McGinnis Mystery Series by Rhys Ford
    2.) Percival Whyborne and Griffin Flaherty – The Whyborne & Griffin Series by Jordan L. Hawk
    3.) Larry Morton and Al Fletcher – Muscling Through

Tina:

    1.) Marcus & Ben – City Knight Series by T.A. Webb
    2.) Aiden & Finn – Marshall’s Park Series by Lisa Worrall

Jackie:

    1.) Bo & Lucky – Diversion Series by Eden Winters
    2.) Chase & Tommy – Chase in Shadow by Amy Lane)
    3.) Brian & Jamie – The Little Boy Lost Series by JP Barnaby

Lynn:

    1.) Wes and Micah – Livin’ on the Edge by Dee Dee Brock

Lana:

    1.) Brett and Finn – Submerging Inferno by Brandon Witt
    2.) Brett and Schwint – Rising Frenzy by Brandon Witt
    3.) Tony and Jack – The Trouble With Tony by Eli Easton

BJ:

    1.) Michael and Finn – Bring Him Home by Sammy Goode
    2.) Tavio and Tommy – Medium, Sweet, Extra Shot of Geek by R. Cooper
    3.) Sir William and Sir Christian – The Lion and the Crow by Eli Eston

Favorite Cover

Lisa:

    1.) Stung by K.A. Merikan
    2.) The Mingled Destinies of Crocodiles and Men by Eric Arvin
    3.) Agamemnon Frost and the Hollow Ships by Kim Knox



Tina:

    1.) Heart of the Race by Mary Calmes
    2.) Billy’s Bones by Jamie Fessenden
    3.) Collide by J.R. Lenk



Jackie:

    1.) Inside Out by Andrew Grey
    2.) Whiskey & Wry by Rhys Ford
    3.) Newton’s Laws of Attraction by M.J. O’Shea



Lynn:

    1.) Black Hurricane by Erica Pike



Lana:

    1.) Submerging Inferno by Brandon Witt
    2.) Rising Frenzy by Brandon Witt



BJ:

    1.) Northern Star by Ethan Day
    2.) Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
    2.) Blame it on the Mistletoe by Eli Easton




And that does it for The Year In Reviews. :)

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Abigail Roux, Aleksandr Voinov, Andrea Speed, Anthony Paull, Beau Schemery, Benjamin Alire Saenz, Carole Cummings, Charlie Cochet, Hayden Thorne, J.C. Lillis, Jamie Samms, Lorraine Ulrich, P.D. Singer, Rhys Ford, T.D. McKinney, Terry Wylis, The Year In Reviews

The Best of 2012 – Part Deux

How about some cover art, yeah? Right or wrong, I’m going to be the first to admit I have a hard time not judging a book by its cover. Sometimes a beautiful cover will make me pick up a book I might otherwise not have, and on the other side of that coin, I know I’ve passed on more than a few books that are probably quite good but I can’t get past the images that were chosen to represent the work inside. I’ve read books with covers that were better than the books themselves; I’ve read books that were infinitely better than the trappings they came in.

There are some really great covers I came across as I was compiling my “Best of 2012” list. Some of the best covers are from books that didn’t quite make my list (and maybe some of them should have :-/) but I think they deserved to be recognized here. They aren’t in any sort of order, some are plain some are more elaborate, all are ones I thought were pretty. :)

What do you think? What are some of your favorite covers from books you’ve read this year? Do you judge books by their covers too?

Arabesque by Hayden Thorne – Cover Art by Ms. Rosek

Mechanical Magic by Lorraine Ulrich – Cover Art by Anne Cain




Desmond and Garrick Books 1 & 2 by Hayden Thorne – Cover Art by Ms. Rosek




The Wolf’s-own Series by Carole Cummings – Cover Art by Anne Cain







The Rare Event by P.D. Singer – Cover Art by Anne Cain

Infected: Shift by Andrea Speed – Cover Art by Anne Cain




Roses in the Devil’s Garden by Charlie Cochet – Cover Art by Charlie Cochet

Dark Soul: Volume One by Aleksandr Voinov – Cover Art by Jordan Taylor




Stained Glass by Jaime Samms – Cover Art by Paul Richmond

Outtakes of a Walking Mistake by Anthony Paull – Cover Art by Kyle Cross




Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz – Cover Art by Chloe Foglia, Mark Brabant & Sarah Jane Coleman

Dirty Secret by Rhys Ford – Cover Art by Reece Notley




The Gravedigger’s Brawl by Abigail Roux – Cover Art by Reece Dante

How to Repair a Mechanical Heart by J.C. Lillis – Cover Art by Mindy Dunn and Andrea Sabaliauskas




The 7th of London by Beau Schemery – Cover Art by Beau Schemery

Kissing Sherlock Holmes by T.D. McKinney & Terry Wylis – Cover Art by Trace Edward Zaber

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Abigail Roux, Aleksandr Voinov, Amelia C. Gormley, Amy Lane, Andrea Speed, Anyta Sunday, Astrid Amara, Ava March, Beau Schemery, Benjamin Alire Saenz, Carole Cummings, Charlie Cochet, Cornelia Grey, Dani Alexander, Diana Copland, Eden Winters, Edmond Manning, Elyan Smith, Ethan Day, Ginn Hale, Hayden Thorne, Heidi Belleau, J.C. Lillis, J.H. Trumble, J.P. Barnaby, Jennifer Cierra, John Goode, John T. Fuller, Jordan Castillo Price, Josh Lanyon, Joshua Martino, Kaje Harper, L.B. Gregg, M.J. O'Shea, Maria McCann, Marshall Moore, Mary Calmes, Missy Welsh, Nicole Kimberling, P.D. Singer, Paul Alan Fahey, Piper Vaughn, Rhys Ford, S.A. Reid, The Year In Reviews, Violetta Vane, Z.A. Maxfield

2012 – A Year In Reviews

Well, it’s that time of year again, the time of year when we all wonder where the days and weeks and months have gone, the time to reflect on some of the great books we’ve read throughout the year, the time of year I scratch my head and wonder if I’ll ever live long enough to read all the books I want to read (The answer? Pfft. No.), the time of year I wonder how the flip I manage to read as many books as I do in an entire year, and then wonder how I’m supposed to compile a list of favorites that doesn’t include more books than some people read in a year’s time. Top Ten? Piffles. I can barely pick the top ten in a single sub-genre, let along manage it for an across the board list. So, do I get a little creative in my selection methods? Probably. Is it honest? Definitely. Do I feel badly for leaving some amazing books off my list? Certainly. But I have to draw the line somewhere. ::sighs:: And for that I apologize to all the very deserving authors out there who should be recognized and celebrated for their brilliant work.

Quite a few of the books that made my list this year weren’t even published in 2012; that’s just when I finally got around to reading them. ::slow:: There is one book, however, that was published in 2012 that has managed to make me do something I’ve never been able to do in three years of putting together a year in reviews list: name a top pick for Best Book of the Year. Yep, that’s a first for me.

And since I’m always looking for the “next great read”, if there are books you’ve read this year that didn’t make my list, leave a comment and share so I can add it to my ginormous reading pile. :)

So, without further ado, here’s my list of Favorite Books of 2012:

Category One: Best Contemporary by a New To Me author

1. Shattered Glass by Dani Alexander
2. A Reason to Believe by Diana Copland
3. Aaron by J.P. Barnaby

*Honorable Mention: Inertia and Acceleration by Amelia C. Gormley*

Category Two: Best Contemporary by a Favorite Author
1. Armed & Dangerous by Abigail Roux
2. Sidecar by Amy Lane
3. Acrobat by Mary Calmes

*Honorable Mention: The Rare Event by P.D. Singer and One Small Thing by Piper Vaughn and M.J. O’Shea*

Category Three: Best Historical – 20th Century
1. Skybound by Aleksandr Voinov
2. Protection by S.A. Reid
3. Roses in the Devil’s Garden by Charlie Cochet

*Honorable Mention: Into Deep Waters by Kaje Harper

Category Four: Best Historical – 19th Century or earlier
1. As Meat Loves Salt by Maria McCann
2. When the Music Stops by John T. Fuller
3. The Affair of the Porcelain Dog by Jess Faraday

*Honorable Mention – His Client by Ava March

Category Five:Best Young Adult/Coming of Age (Contemporary)
1. End of the Innocence by John Goode
2. Don’t Let Me Go by J.H. Trimble
3. How to Repair a Mechanical Heart by J.C. Lillis

*Honorable Mention – Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz*

Category Six:Best Young Adult/Coming of Age (Fantasy and/or Historical)
1. The 7th of London by Beau Schemery
2. The Winter Garden and Other Stories by Hayden Thorne
3. (In)visible by Anyta Sunday

Category Seven:Best AU/UF/Fantasy
1. Infected: Shift by Andrea Speed
2. Mnevermind 1: The Persistence of Memory by Jordan Castillo Price
3. A Token of Time by Ethan Day

*Honorable Mention: Irregulars by Nicole Kimberling, Josh Lanyon, Ginn Hale & Astrid Amara*

Category EightBest Short Stories/Novelettes – All Sub-Genres
1. Clouds’ Illusions by Hayden Thorne
2. Bounty Hunter by Cornelia Grey
3. Zones by Elyan Smith
4. Portside by Elyan Smith
5. The War at the End of the World by Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane
6. Same Time Next Year by Eden Winters
7. Tinsel and Frost by Eden Winters
8. Oscar’s Soul by Missy Welch
9. Singing Alone by Jennifer Cierra
10. The View from 16 Podwale Street by Paul Alan Fahey

Category Nine: Best LGBT Non-Romance
1. Fontana by Joshua Martino
2. The Infernal Republic by Marshall Moore

Category Ten: Best Series – AU/Fantasy
1. The Wolf’s-own Series by Carole Cummings
2. The Rifter Series by Ginn Hale
3. The Infected Series by Andrea Speed

Category Eleven:Best Series – Mystery/Suspense
1. The Cut & Run Series by Abigail Roux
2. The Cole McGinnis Mysteries Series by Rhys Ford
3. The Romano and Albright Series by L.B. Gregg

Category Twelve: Best Series – Erotic/Kink/BDSM
1. The Dark Soul Series by Aleksandr Voinov
2. The Bound Series by Ava March

Category Thirteen Best Series – Contemporary
Tied for First place: (Seriously, I can’t choose)
1. The St. Nacho’s Series by Z.A. Maxfield
1. The Johnnies Series by Amy Lane
1. The A Matter of Time Series by Mary Calmes
1. The Tales From Foster High Series by John Goode



And now….




Finally, it comes down to my choice for Best Book of 2012, which goes to the brilliant and beautiful King Perry by Edmond Manning. I can say, with all honesty, I’ve never read a book quite like it in my entire life. Simply put, it is the reason I read and read and read, because every so often I find a book that leaves me both speechless and wanting to shout its praises from the rooftops at the same time. If you haven’t read it yet, do. Soon. Like maybe right now, soon. :)


Now it’s time to get to work on adding to my list for next year!

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