May 27

The Burning Chambers

Book Reviews 1 ★★★½

The Burning ChambersThe Burning Chambers by Kate Mosse
Published by Minotaur Books on June 18, 2019
Genres: Historical
Pages: 592
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Goodreads three-half-stars

France, 1562: Nineteen-year-old Minou Joubert receives an anonymous letter at her father’s bookshop. Sealed with a distinctive family crest, it contains just five words: SHE KNOWS THAT YOU LIVE.

But before Minou can decipher the mysterious message, a chance encounter with a young Huguenot convert, Piet Reydon, changes her destiny forever. For Piet has a dangerous mission of his own, and he will need Minou’s help if he is to stay alive.

As the religious divide deepens, and old friends become enemies, Minou and Piet both find themselves trapped in Toulouse, facing new dangers as tensions ignite across the city.

All the while, the shadowy mistress of Puivert Château—obsessed with uncovering the secrets of a long-hidden document—strengthens her power and waits for the perfect time to strike...

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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“Kill them all. God will know His own.”

3.5/5 stars. The Burning Chambers is the first in Kate Mosse’s new series, set in a similar historical time period as her earlier series, but this time entirely in France during the bloody wars between French Huguenots and Catholics. This book started out reeeeeeeally slow. So slow that, had I not been given a review copy, I probably would have put it down indefinitely. However, the description was excellent and so was the writing, it was just…so much. Also SUCH a huge cast of characters! There was a three page list of characters at the very beginning (which honestly terrified me before I even started reading). A lot of focus was on the religious conflict, too, which I found kind of off-putting but I understand that it was a HUGE part of life at that time, and was the motivating factor for a lot of the characters’ actions. There was SO MUCH double-crossing in this story…it made my head spin at times, trying to figure out who was on what side and who was a spy and who was playing both sides!

Characters

The story is centered around Minou and to a lesser extent Piet, but there are so many chapters from such a variety of people it was rather mind boggling. Minou is great and I loved that she acted demure enough to blend in seamlessly in the current French society no matter where she was…but beneath all that “proper-ness” was a backbone of steel and GOD HELP ANYONE who tried to hurt her loved ones. Phew.

Piet is a good, steady man with a heart of gold and again the backbone of steel. Despite getting something of the short end of the stick in life, he is still unwilling to believe the worst of people (something that comes back to bite him in the behind). I liked him, but I wasn’t swooning over him. I guess I prefer more of the bad-boy/wounded hero type. He’s just too…nice? (What kind of a person does this thought make me…)

However, all that said, my favorite character was Minou’s little brother. HE is going to grow up to be just the sort of bad-boy-with-a-cause I can get behind, I just know it! The most INTERESTING character is actually the villainess, but the interest of spoilers I’ll leave it at that.

Plot

The Huguenots (Protestants) and the Catholics of 16th century France hate each other for various reasons, and those with no strong religious sensibilities want only to profit from war. Minou’s father has been keeping some dark family secret, Minou receives a vaguely threatening letter…and she is oblidged to leave her beloved Carcassonne for the “safety” of Toulouse, which turns out to not be safe at all.

I really thought this would be more of a historical thriller than it was. As it turned out it was much more of a political/social commentary for the first 75%, with a insta-love sort of romance thrown in. It was sweet, but seemed QUITE unfounded…however, ignoring that little issue, the last quarter of the book really picked up the pace and made me MUCH more invested in the characters and their story, as everyone actually came together instead of being scattered all across the map.

Overall

3.5/5 stars, rounded up. The last quarter really saved the book, and I’m hoping all the meandering and emphasis on the societal aspects of the Huguenot/Catholic wars was setup for the future books in the series, which I will definitely be reading!

Stream-of-consciousness commentary:

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three-half-stars

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May 26

Sunday Post #10 – One More Week

Books/Writing 0

Hey everyone! Back with another Sunday Post update, via Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s been a LONG time since I did a Sunday Post, but I’d like to get back into it regularly as a way to wrap up. I’m totally patterning mine off of Kimberly’s, at least for now.

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This week I worked a lot of 3rd shifts at my job, which always completely throws me. My body just doesn’t re-program itself to deal with being awake at that time quickly – especially not for just a few days! I only have one more left though, and I won’t have any in June. I did a lot of reading and some writing during those shifts (campus safety during summer break is veeeeeery slow), so that was nice. It was just that once I got home, the puppers expected me to be on my usual daytime schedule instead of falling asleep on the couch!

Speaking of June, my organic chemistry summer class starts on June 3rd, and I’m absolutely terrified. I’m also anticipating I won’t have a whole lot of time for reading or blogging in June or July, so I’ve still been working on getting as many posts written and scheduled as I can.

Weekly Dose of Adorableness

This one has a thing for soft chairs and goofy faces.

Last Week on Blog

Next Week on the Blog

  • The Burning Chambers – historical fiction ARC review
  • No Place Like Here – YA contemporary review and tour
  • Two Like Me and You – YA contemporary review and tour
  • Can’t Wait Wednesday #6

Around the Blogosphere

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May 23

A Dangerous Collaboration (Veronica Speedwell #4)

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★

A Dangerous Collaboration (Veronica Speedwell #4)A Dangerous Collaboration (Veronica Speedwell, #4) by Deanna Raybourn
Published by Berkley Books/Penguin Random House on March 12, 2019
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Pages: 323
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads four-stars

Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell is whisked off to a remote island off the tip of Cornwall when her natural historian colleague Stoker's brother calls in a favor. On the pretext of wanting a companion to accompany him to Lord Malcolm Romilly's house party, Tiberius persuades Veronica to pose as his fiancée—much to Stoker's chagrin. But upon arriving, it becomes clear that the party is not as innocent as it had seemed. Every invited guest has a connection to Romilly's wife, Rosamund, who disappeared on her wedding day three years ago, and a dramatic dinner proves she is very much on her husband's mind.

As spectral figures, ghostly music, and mysterious threats begin to plague the partygoers, Veronica enlists Stoker's help to discover the host's true motivations. And as they investigate, it becomes clear that there are numerous mysteries surrounding the Romilly estate, and every person present has a motive to kill Rosamund...

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A Dangerous Collaboration is the fourth in the amazing Veronica Speedwell mystery series by Deanna Raybourn! This is definitely a series you need to start at the beginning with, so if you haven’t already be sure to go read the first three books – A Curious Beginning (#1), A Perilous Undertaking (#2), and A Treacherous Curse (#3).

Warning: Possible spoilers for the first three books of the series, but not for this one!

I was really startled when I began reading this book! It starts off with Veronica leaving England – and Stoker – and going off with Lady Cordelia for six months overseas. SAY WHAT?!? You separated my darlings, WHY?? Very little page time is given to this six months, other than to say both ladies fell ill on the trip (but not deathly ill), and Veronica spent much time thinking about Stoker and her feelings and wondering why he didn’t write even though she had told him not to.

Eventually they return, and she and Stoker are so stilted and awkward, it’s like they had taken one step forward and about ten back. Before they even BEGIN to work this out though, as friends or professionals, Stoker’s brother Tiberius (introduced in the first book, gradually getting more screen time as the series goes on) bursts in on them and asks Veronica to go with him to an old school friend’s gathering on a remote island (*dun dun dun DUN*)…posing as his fiancee’. Needless to say…they all three end up going, and shenanigans ensue.

The mystery on the island was the most engrossing one in the series so far, in my opinion. After floundering through the first few chapters (seriously, everyone had emotionally regressed…it was so disconcerting!) I really got into it once things moved to the island. As Veronica (and Stoker…and Tiberius…) try to solve the mystery of what happened to Tiberius’s friends bride, they uncover more and more secrets. It was DELICIOUS!

In the interest of NOT spoiling anything, I won’t give any details, but by the end of the book I was very satisfied with the character progression once more. However, now I want more of Tiberius. He has become a character of interest. I need to see more of his bruised heart and soul…and I would be VERY interested to see if a woman who could handle him and his…proclivities…could be found!

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four-stars

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May 22

Can’t Wait Wednesday #5 – Reticence

Books/Writing 0

I’m joining in the fun with a Can’t-Wait Wednesday, a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. Usually the books are ones yet to be released. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

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Can’t Wait Wednesday #5 – ReticenceReticence (Custard Protocol, #4) by Gail Carriger
Published by Orbit on August 6, 2019
Pages: 368
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads

Bookish and proper Percival Tunstell finds himself out of his depth when floating cities, spirited plumbing, and soggy biscuits collide in this delightful conclusion to NYT bestselling author Gail Carriger's Custard Protocol series.

Percival Tunstell loves that his sister and her best friend are building themselves a family of misfits aboard their airship, the Spotted Custard. Of course, he'd never admit that he belongs among them. He's always been on the outside - dispassionate, aloof, and hatless. But accidental spies, a trip to Japan, and one smart and beautiful doctor may have him renegotiating his whole philosophy on life.

Except hats. He's done with hats. Thank you very much.

OMG! I am so so so SO excited for this book! I absolutely adore the entire Parasolverse Gail Carriger has written and since this appears to be THE LAST book in that world (*SOB*) I am so here for it. I guess I should probably get onto reading Book 3 before this one comes out in August…

Any other Gail Carriger fans out there?

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May 20

The Bone Charmer – Review and Tour!

Book Reviews 0

Be sure to check out all the stops on the tour over at The Fantastic Flying Book Club! Also scroll to the bottom to enter the giveaway!

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The Bone Charmer – Review and Tour!The Bone Charmer by Breeana Shields
Published by Page Street Kids on May 21, 2019
Pages: 400
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads

In Saskia’s world, bones are the source of all power. They tell the future, reveal the past, and expose secrets in the present. Each village has a designated seer who performs readings for the townsfolk, and in Midwood, the Bone Charmer is Saskia’s mother.

On the day of her kenning—a special bone reading that determines the apprenticeships of all seventeen-year-olds—Saskia’s worst fears come true. She receives an assignment to train as a Bone Charmer, like her mother, and even worse, a match-making reading that pairs her with Bram—a boy who has suspicious tattoos that hint of violence.

Saskia knows her mother saw multiple paths for her, yet chose one she knew Saskia wouldn’t want. Their argument leads to a fracture in one of the bones. Broken bones are always bad luck, but this particular set of bones have been infused with extra magic, and so the break has devastating consequences—Saskia’s future has split as well. Now she will live her two potential paths simultaneously. Only one future can survive. And Saskia’s life is in danger in both.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Bone Charmer is the kind of book that knocks the breath out of you. And then revives you, just a little bit, enough that you see the light at the end of the tunnel and hope that it’s not, you know, THE light. But enough with my ridiculous metaphors.

Saskia is a seventeen year old girl who has lost almost everyone dear to her in the last year. When her bone kenning doesn’t go as she hopes, her life splits into two different realities. Both were equally captivating and as they wove closer and closer together I got more and more worried – but I still didn’t see THAT ending coming.

This story punches hard in the feels. HARD. That is undoubtedly it’s strong point. The worldbuilding is a little vague, as the world is clearly a fantasy that is loosely based in some type of medieval European setting. The different magics – all involving bones – aren’t spelled out in detail, but enough to keep them separate and for their basic uses to be clear.

I loved Saskia, though she seemed a little spoiled at first. She grows so much through the story, it was quite painful at times. She is brave, but a little reckless. Her mother too, I felt a lot for. I think she could have been more open with Saskia and it might have spared them a lot of the struggles they went through, but she was doing as any parent with a heart would, and trying to spare her daughter further pain.

The idea of two realities worked a lot better than I was expecting! I got confused at the very end, but I think that is because the characters were equally confused. Phew. That ending. Please, PLEASE tell me there will be a sequel! I need to know!

There isn’t really a lot of romance in this book! There is some, but it’s really in the beginning stages and was just super sweet. I did really like that Saskia had a history with her interest, instead of it being an insta-love thing. In the end though, this is NOT your typical “love saves the day” or even a HEA. I did really like a certain guy, ahem. Again, PLEASE let there be a sequel!

4/5 stars overall. Lovely story that completely held my attention!

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About the Author

 

Breeana Shields is an author of fantasy novels for teens including THE BONE CHARMER, POISON’S KISS, and POISON’S CAGE. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a BA in English.

When she’s not writing, Breeana loves reading, traveling, and playing board games with her extremely competitive family. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, her three children, and two adorable, but spoiled dogs.

 

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May 19

Sunday Post #9 – Seeing People

Books/Writing 0

Hey everyone! Back with another Sunday Post update, via Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s been a LONG time since I did a Sunday Post, but I’d like to get back into it regularly as a way to wrap up. I’m totally patterning mine off of Kimberly’s, at least for now.

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This week I actually got to spend some time with friends! Between school and work (for all of us, not just me) it seems like I mostly text or message my friends on social media, and it was great to get to spend a few hours with some lovely people in my life this week. Mary and Kayla, I’m looking at you. 🙂 I also worked on the yard, mainly the flower bed on the side of my house. I love gardening, digging in the dirt and trying to help things grow. I also worked more hours this week than I have in a long time, which was GREAT for reading, since I work at a college and there are only a very few students here for May term.

I’ve also been way more active on Instagram lately, so if you like following #bookstagram be sure to say hi! I’m BentBookworm over there as well. I’ve been documenting my journey through the Twilight Saga for “Can You Read a Series in a Month,” which has been…entertaining. I felt compelled to record my reactions to some parts in my stories, just so I could remember my feelings. 😉

Weekly Dose of Adorableness:

This big beautiful boy turned ONE YEAR OLD on Saturday! How is that possible?? Also HOW does he still have a year or more of growing left…when he already weighs over 100 lbs?!?

Last Week on Blog

  • A Perilous Undertaking (Veronica Speedwell #2) – historical mystery review
  • Can’t Wait Wednesday #4 – The Wise and the Wicked
  • A Treacherous Curse (Veronica Speedwell #3) – historical mystery review

Next Week on the Blog

  • The Bone Charmer – YA ARC review and tour
  • Can’t Wait Wednesday
  • A Dangerous Collaboration (Veronica Speedwell #4) – historical mystery review

Around the Blogosphere

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May 16

A Treacherous Curse (Veronica Speedwell #3)

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★★

A Treacherous Curse (Veronica Speedwell #3)A Treacherous Curse (Veronica Speedwell, #3) by Deanna Raybourn
Published by Berkley on January 16, 2018
Pages: 308
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads five-stars
two-flames

London, 1888. As colorful and unfettered as the butterflies she collects, Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell can’t resist the allure of an exotic mystery—particularly one involving her enigmatic colleague, Stoker.

His former expedition partner has vanished from an archaeological dig with a priceless diadem unearthed from the newly discovered tomb of an Egyptian princess. This disappearance is just the latest in a string of unfortunate events that have plagued the controversial expedition, and rumors abound that the curse of the vengeful princess has been unleashed as the shadowy figure of Anubis himself stalks the streets of London.

But the perils of an ancient curse are not the only challenges Veronica must face as sordid details and malevolent enemies emerge from Stoker’s past.

Caught in a tangle of conspiracies and threats—and thrust into the public eye by an enterprising new foe—Veronica must separate facts from fantasy to unravel a web of duplicity that threatens to cost Stoker everything. . . .

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Warning: Possible spoilers for the first two books in this series (but not this one)!

A Treacherous Curse is the third book in the Veronica Speedwell series, and there is so much development and we learn so much more about the main characters. I absolutely loved it! This is a continuous series, so you definitely need to read the first book, A Curious Beginning, and the second, A Perilous Undertaking, to be able to jump into this one.

Our main squeezes are back, and in stellar form per usual. This time though, we are plunged headfirst into Stoker’s backstory. FINALLY!!! I have been absolutely dying to know what happened in Brazil to make him so bitter and so hurt and scarred…and we FINALLY get to find out. It was just as gritty and heartbreaking as I expected it to be…I was actually sitting on our couch reading, curled in a ball with one hand clamped over my mouth (my husband was slightly concerned). Veronica is still trying to get over what happened in the previous book…which she will not talk about, with anyone, but which bothers her VERY much. For those who need a refresher… View Spoiler ». Somehow they still manage to be friends and partners but it’s all been very tense.

The mystery here was interesting but to me secondary to the character development. I was intrigued to see how Deanna would handle the egyptology angle, as that is one aspect of the Victorian era that seems to be worked over A LOT in mysteries. I’m happy to say that it was quite well done! Nothing particularly novel, but again the character development really took control here as we were introduced to some of the archaeologists leading the expedition in question, along with their families. I didn’t figure out the culprit until near the actual end, which I loved. I hate it when I’ve figured a mystery out way before the characters!

5/5 stars. A Treacherous Curse is a solid continuation of the storyline in this series and I am so excited for the next book!

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five-stars

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May 15

Can’t Wait Wednesday #4 – The Wise and the Wicked

Books/Writing 0

I’m joining in the fun with a Can’t-Wait Wednesday, a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. Usually the books are ones yet to be released. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

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Can’t Wait Wednesday #4 – The Wise and the WickedThe Wise and the Wicked by Rebecca Podos
Published by Balzer + Bray on May 28, 2019
Pages: 368
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads

Ruby Chernyavsky has been told the stories since she was a child: The women in her family, once possessed of great magical abilities to remake lives and stave off death itself, were forced to flee their Russian home for America in order to escape the fearful men who sought to destroy them. Such has it always been, Ruby’s been told, for powerful women. Today, these stories seem no more real to Ruby than folktales, except for the smallest bit of power left in their blood: when each of them comes of age, she will have a vision of who she will be when she dies—a destiny as inescapable as it is inevitable. Ruby is no exception, and neither is her mother, although she ran from her fate years ago, abandoning Ruby and her sisters. It’s a fool’s errand, because they all know the truth: there is no escaping one’s Time.

Until Ruby’s great-aunt Polina passes away, and, for the first time, a Chernyavsky’s death does not match her vision. Suddenly, things Ruby never thought she’d be allowed to hope for—life, love, time—seem possible. But as she and her cousin Cece begin to dig into the family’s history to find out whether they, too, can change their fates, they learn that nothing comes without a cost. Especially not hope.

This just sounds delightful. There’s nothing I can say to describe it better than the blurb – I’m just so excited! I didn’t get an ARC of this so I’m going to have to wait until the end of the month with the rest of the world…hehe. If you’ve read it let me know what you think!

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May 13

A Perilous Undertaking (Veronica Speedwell #2)

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★½

A Perilous Undertaking (Veronica Speedwell #2)A Perilous Undertaking (Veronica Speedwell, #2) by Deanna Raybourn
Published by Berkley Books on January 10, 2017
Pages: 338
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads four-half-stars
three-flames

London, 1887. At the Curiosity Club, a ladies-only establishment for daring and intrepid women, Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell meets the mysterious Lady Sundridge, who begs her to take on an impossible task--saving society art patron Miles Ramsforth from execution. Ramsforth, accused of the brutal murder of his mistress, Artemisia, will face the hangman's noose in a week's time if the real killer is not found.

But Lady Sundridge is not all that she seems, and unmasking her true identity is only the first of many secrets Veronica must uncover. Together with her natural-historian colleague, Stoker, Veronica races against time to find the true murderer. From a Bohemian artists' colony to a royal palace to a subterranean grotto with a decadent history, the investigation proves to be a very perilous undertaking indeed....

Warning: Possible spoilers for Book 1 of this series, A Curious Beginning. Highly recommended!

A Perilous Undertaking picks up just weeks after A Curious Beginning left off. I was very happy to see that, as I always feel like I’m lost in the sauce when series books have big time gaps between them!

Feels:

Ahhh, I still loved Veronica and Stoker. Stoker’s background came more into focus during this one, as we got to peak a little more into his family. Once again, I would caution anyone who comes to this series looking for a strictly historically accurate book – while the period details of dress, surroundings, etc., are quite good, the language is fairly modern. Veronica has EXTREMELY modern ideas about relationships and sexual encounters, and several of the other characters in this book do as well. Not uncommon perhaps for artists and others of the more “common” classes, perhaps, but for a woman born and raised as she was it would seem unlikely. However, it makes for great reading and a character I can TOTALLY identify with! I laughed out loud quite frequently at the back and forth between her and Stoker – she’s so forthright, and he doesn’t quite know how to handle it!

Characters:

Veronica and Stoker are their usual bantering, bickering selves. They’re still getting to know each other and as they speak more openly about their past life they are (whether they will admit it or not) getting more and more invested in each other. It’s very slow going though!

Just KISS already, damn it!

At one point they seem to make progress, and then a THING happens between them that puts the brakes on everything. Damn, damn, DAMN! I need to know more, people!

I absolutely despised Lady Sundridge. DESPISED. She was so cold and manipulative and unfeeling. UGH! She used Veronica from start to finish – and Veronica LET her, even after she knew she was being used. My heart. Veronica wants to know her family, and thus know herself so badly she puts aside her better judgment and it really bites her in the ass sometimes.

Plot

Much more intriguing than the first! I really didn’t have it figured out by the end, at least not to where I was certain enough to bet on it. 😉 I loved meeting all the different characters in the artists’ enclave, too – though the who’s-sleeping-with-who there really made things SO much more complicated than they should have been, I guess that was really part of the problem! Oh, just a fair warning – there is a LOT of talk about sex in this one. Not sex itself, but a good deal of nudity and frank discussions of sex. 😉

4/5 stars. I didn’t FEEL quite as much for this one, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it and dived right into the third book!

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four-half-stars

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May 12

Sunday Post #8 – Trying to Get Ahead

Books/Writing 0

Hey everyone! Back with another Sunday Post update, via Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. I’m really trying to stay up with these! I’m totally patterning mine off of Kimberly’s, at least for now.

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This week I’ve mostly been focusing on getting my life organized! This includes the blog, since I know June and July will be CRAZY for me (taking an entire year of organic chemistry in those two months). I’m trying to get as many posts scheduled and lined up as possible – which also means I’ve been reading like crazy. This upcoming week is a little quiet, but I have a lot of new release reviews and tours coming up in the last half of the month and I’m super excited about them all!

Noah in one of his favorite spots! Mine too, though he seems to spend more time in that chair than I do…hmmm.

Last Week on Blog

Next Week on the Blog

  • A Perilous Undertaking (Veronica Speedwell #2) – historical mystery review
  • Can’t Wait Wednesday
  • A Treacherous Curse (Veronica Speedwell #3) – historical mystery review

Around the Blogosphere

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If you really enjoyed reading and would like to show your support for future content and help keep the blog running (my goal is to make the blog self-supporting), consider using the affiliate links on this page to buy your next book, or donate to the blog using one of the links below!

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