Novella November Sign Ups!


Welcome to the second annual Novella November! We changed the name up a bit since last year (Last year it was called "November Novella Knockout Mini Challenge" and that title is a bit long!) Last year it was hosted by Jessi @ Novel Heartbeat and Reanna @ Phantasmic Reads, but due to Reanna's busy schedule she was unable to host this year (don't worry, she'll probably be back next year!). Since Jessi and I are doing the 2014 Prequel & Sequel Challenge together, she invited me to co-host this monthly challenge with her!

The goal

Read as many novellas as you can - you set your own goal!

The rules

  • The challenge will run from November 1st at 12:00 am until November 30th at 11:59 pm
  • You can sign up here or at Novel Heartbeat
  • To join, just make a sign up post and add it to the linky below
  • Any short story counts, not just those in a series
  • Any series novellas read during this month will count for double points in the Prequel & Sequel challenge (2 points each instead of 1)
  • We will try to host a small giveaway for all participants at the end of the challenge!

Grab a button

Sign up!

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Prequel & Sequel Challenge -- October Wrap Up!

Hello fellow prequel and sequel challengers!  I know that I said this in the August wrap-up post, but I STILL can't believe that this year is flying by so quickly!  Seriously, there's less than two months left until CHRISTMAS.  Where is 2014 going?

We still have two months left for this challenge, so lots of time to finish up some series ... or start new ones!  Remember that every book after the first one counts, so even if you want to binge a series in the next two months, you can!

I'm pretty proud of my reading in this challenge so far.  I've read some more of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, started the Throne of Glass series and am poised to finally, yes FINALLY!, read Requiem!  Seriously, this is the one book that I cannot, simply cannot, leave until 2015.  I'm also hoping to binge read the Mara Dyer series next month!

As always, please include the number of points earned when you link up your reviews below!  Happy reading guys!

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Life of a Blogger - Hallowe'en

My good friend, Jessi, over at Novel Heartbeat runs this awesome feature as a way for her followers to get to know her better!  Check out the list of upcoming topics here.

Hallowe'en has changed for us over the past couple of years.  When we first met, we dressed up to answer the door for trick-or-treaters (see the pic below), but only had five kids come to the door, so we haven't done that since then.  We hosted Hallowe'en parties for a couple of years, and then went out to parties for the next few years.

Marko's not quite old enough to really participate in Hallowe'en, so last year we spent the evening at a friend's house, handing out candy.  Both our boys were six-ish months old, so we dressed them up anyways, just for fun.

This year, we'll likely go check out the Hallowe'en activities our local mall.  Marko has some Superman pajamas, which will be cute.

The biggest Hallowe'en change for me is that I will be dressing up for work!  Years ago, when I worked in retail, I used to LOVE dressing up for work.  The whole staff would be in costume and we'd have trick-or-treaters coming through the mall.  Then, at my last office job, NO ONE dressed up.  I did the first year, and felt like a goof for being the only one in costume, so I stopped after that.  This year, however, our whole office is on board, which is super fun.  There's three of us at the front desk, and we decided to do a group costume: The Three Blind Mice!  It's going to be fun, which is yet another reason to add to the list of why I love my new job so very, very much!

What about you?  What are your Hallowe'en plans?  Leave me a comment below and hope you all have a very happy Hallowe'en!

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Marko Monday [12]

It's been a long, long time since I've done one of these posts -- long overdue!  Marko has been a reading machine over the past few months, and loves to cuddle up on the couch after a long day at daycare and just read through piles of his favourite books.  He'll often read on his own, babbling the storyline to himself, using the same voice intonations that my husband and I do while reading the same book.  It's quite cute how he imitates the way we read aloud.  I know in my heart that Marko is well on his way to becoming a reader!

His adores puppies at the moment, whether his plastic Scooby Doo from Wendy's, a stuffed puppy puppet or pictures of puppies in his books.  Sandra Boynton's books have been favourites of his for a while now, but Snuggle Puppy currently tops the list!  I read it in a sing-song voice, which he loves.  The final pages of the story include one page of whispered singing and the final page is supposed to be shouted.  At the end, he covers his mouth with his little hands to hide his huge grin, and then says, "A funny!"  I love that he's finding humour in the pages of the story.

Marko's just starting to pose for pictures, rather than grabbing at the phone.  My sister-in-law snapped this shot a month or so ago, and it's been one of my favourites ever since!

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On Looking at the Glass Half Full

In light of the drama that exploded all over the internet last weekend, I thought I'd share a positive, upbeat post.  In addition to suffering from bookish guilt, I think that we sometimes have a tendency to gravitate towards the negative aspects of reading ... so here's a look at the glass half full.

Omigosh, my TBR pile is ridiculous!
Hey, I'll never run out of amazing books to read!

It seems like every blogger except me got a copy of that ARC!
I'll be diving into that world for the first time, when every other blogger is wishing that they could experience the book for the very first time.

These review copy deadlines are killing me!
I'm so lucky to have the opportunity to read and generate bookish buzz for these upcoming titles.

I need to go on a book buying ban because I own more books than I'll ever read!
If the zombie apocalypse actually happens, I'll be happy to lock my doors, read and wait for the cure.

Do you have any bookish positive affirmations to add to this list?  Let me know in the comments below!     

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Life of a Blogger - Origin of My Name

My good friend, Jessi, over at Novel Heartbeat runs this awesome feature as a way for her followers to get to know her better!  Check out the list of upcoming topics here.

Today's topic is the origin of my name.  Ever since I saw this topic show up on the list of upcoming Life of a Blogger posts, I've been excited to share mine!  I can't wait to read the origins of everyone else's names too -- this is a topic that has always intrigued me.

So, my first name, obviously, is Melissa.  My parents were watching Little House on the Prairie one night and liked Melissa Gilbert's name, so they chose Melissa based on the actress.  Even though my name came from a TV show, it was based on a series of books -- so I like to think that I've been bookish since before birth!

Then, for a middle name, my mom wanted to use Ann, since that's her middle name, but she always liked the spelling from Anne of Green Gables better than her own spelling.  So, she gave me the middle name Anne -- adding a second bookish name to the mix!

I've always liked that my two names, Melissa Anne, are bookish in origin ... my destiny has always been to become a reader!

How about you?  What's the origin of your name?  Leave me a comment below!

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Book Haul [13]

Holy moly -- I can't believe that it's been two whole months since my last book haul!  Here's what I've added to my shelves over the past couple of months...

Thrift Store Finds:

A Discovery of Witches - Deborah Harkness
Shadow of Night - Deborah Harkness
Lauren @ Lose Time Reading's love of these books is infectious, and we have similar reading tastes so I'm pretty sure I'm going to love the series too.  Hence why I bought TWO books in the series, even though I haven't read the first one yet!

The Art of Racing in the Rain - Garth Stein
This book has RAVE reviews all over the place, and Marko loves looking at the puppy on the cover!  He keeps pulling it off the shelf, saying, "PUPPY! PUPPY!"

The Birth House - Ami McKay
A long time ago, I was chatting on Twitter with a few bloggers about amazing adult titles, and Lauren recommended this one.  It has been on my TBR wishlist for a long, long time!  I love that it's a Canadian story, and hope my heart can handle the pregnancy/birth parts of the story.

The Last Letter from Your Lover - Jojo Moyes
Ummm, it's Jojo Moyes, so I HAD to buy it.  I was surprised to see that the thrift store actually had THREE copies of this book -- when I buy a Jojo book, I hold onto it forever and ever and ever!  The premise sounds super interesting: it's another past-present story, like The Girl You Left Behind, which I LOVED. 

For Review:

All My Puny Sorrows - Miriam Toews
I actually received a finished copy of this book from Random House a few months ago, but I forgot to include it in a haul post.  It's a sister story, so I'm sure I'll read it this fall or winter.  I loved A Complicated Kindness when I read it years ago, and I've heard that Miriam's writing just gets better and better with each book.

Adult Onset - Ann-Marie MacDonald
When I received an e-mail from Random House and saw that this book was on the forthcoming titles for September list, I honestly got all choked up.  Ann-Marie is one of my all-time favourites, insta-buy, love forever authors.  I have read, and loved, both Fall on Your Knees and The Way the Crow Flies, and have been waiting since 2003 for a new book!  Long overdue, Ms. MacDonald, and I can't wait to dive into this one.  My hubby and I are planning our first night away together to celebrate our anniversary in December, so I think I'm going to wait and savour this one at our spa day!

A Cold Legacy - Megan Shepherd
I liked, but didn't love the first two books in the series, but couldn't pass up the pretty cover when I saw this up on Edelweiss.  Might as well finish off the series, since I've invested so much time in it!


The Assassin's Blade - Sarah J. Maas
A month or so ago, Lauren @ Lose Time Reading and I decided to take the plunge and start reading the Throne of Glass series together, but we decided to start with the novellas, so I downloaded this one on my Kobo.  I LOVED it -- we're now onto the first book in the series!

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Life of a Blogger - Favourite Toys

My good friend, Jessi, over at Novel Heartbeat runs this awesome feature as a way for her followers to get to know her better!  Check out the list of upcoming topics here.

Today's topic is favourite toys.  After the post on most prized possession a few weeks ago, I was intrigued by the fact that I saw a few favourite childhood toys make the cut for most prized possession.  I hadn't even THOUGHT to include something like that, even though most of my childhood toys are still back home with my mom.  For today's post, I've decided to list them for you!  Here goes...
  • Daddy Rabbit is a pink bunny, who has lost a lot of fur on his nose from so many kisses.  His ears used to stand up too, but they long since started to droop.  I've had him since I was born.
  • Mummy Teddy (can you tell that I'm super creative with names?) is a brown teddy that I've also had since I was born.  She's got that fur that you can tell used to be soft, but is now scratchy because she's been in the washing machine one too many times.
  • Miss Bunny is a knitted rabbit that my grandma made for me when I was about two or three.  She has a few knitted outfits, including hats that have holes for her ears and little shorts that go under her dress that has a hole for her tail.  Yes, my bunny wears booty shorts.
  • Puppy is a little brown dog that has a bell inside.  We were inseparable when I was younger.  My dad fondly tells stories of me asking to bring Puppy along when we went out and he'd agree, provided that I carried Puppy the entire time.  I'd always solemnly promise that I would, only to ask my dad halfway into our journey if he would mind carrying Puppy for a little while.
What about you?  What were some of your favourite toys growing up?  Leave me a comment or a link to your post below!

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Rabbit Ears - Maggie De Vries

This is a book that was really hard to read, and is equally hard to review.  It's a sad story and heart-wrenchingly true.

The story centres around Kaya, an adopted girl who is struggling to find where she fits into the world.  During her search, she stumbles into a network of people in the Downtown Eastside and a world of sex, drugs and prostitution.  It's a dark, downward spiral and results in a book that physically hurt my heart.  Kaya's character is based on the author's sister, a woman who disappeared from the Downtown Eastside and her body was found years later on Robert Pickton's farm.  This farm, which is a five-minute drive from where I live, was the scene of a gruesome police investigation as investigators located the remains of over 30 women that had all disappeared from the Downtown Eastside, a less desirable section of downtown Vancouver where drugs abound and many people live on the street.  It's the darker side of my otherwise beautiful city, but it's a harsh reality for many people.

Rabbit Ears is told in alternate points of view, between Kaya and her sister Beth.  What I loved most about this story is that Kaya's points of view are told in second person, so it's like her sister telling Kaya's story too.  This makes sense because it's like Maggie telling her own sister's tale, and adds that air of chilling truth to the storytelling.

All in all, this book really resonated with me because it, quite literally, hits close to home.  It's not an easy story to read, but definitely a well-told fictional memoir.

Note: I received an e-galley of this book from Edelweiss.  The fact that I received a copy of this book for free did not influence my review in any way.

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My True Love Gave to Me - edited by Stephanie Perkins

I had requested a couple of titles from St. Martin's Press, but hadn't had any luck with having my requests approved, so I wasn't feeling too hopeful when I hit the request button on Netgalley.  When my request was approved, I was so excited!  There's nothing that I love more than a good Christmas read, especially when it's filled with works by some of my favourite authors.

My True Love Gave to Me didn't disappoint.  My only qualm is that I wish it had been wintery outside when I read it, but that's only due to the fact that I read it before its release date, rather than at a more appropriate time of year.  This book is the perfect wintery read, curled up with a blanket and a mug of something warm and yummy.

I was pleasantly surprised that it's not a book that's purely filled with contemporary stories, especially since Stephanie Perkins is the editor.  I was expecting some cutesy Christmasy love stories (think Dash and Lily's Book of Dares), but there's a wide range of topics and genres included in this book.  Each author stays true to his or her particular style and genre, and I loved being able to revisit some favourites.  From the opening Rainbow Rowell story to ending the book with the gorgeousness that is Laini Taylor, I loved every moment of it.  I even enjoyed reading some stories by authors that I haven't experienced before, like Myra McEntire.

This book would make the perfect Christmas gift for anyone.  Know someone who's read everything?  Here's a book filled with stories that they haven't read yet!  Know someone who isn't much of a reader?  Here's a book that is filled with stories that will give them a taste of a whole bunch of different writers that will, hopefully, encourage them to pick up another book by one of these authors.

When you're doing your Christmas shopping this year, be sure to add this one to your shopping list, even if it's just for yourself.  You won't be disappointed.

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On Author Events

You guys, I need some help.  There's an author event coming up this weekend, and I can't decide if I want to go or not!  There aren't many author events in my area -- since I started this blog, I've gone to see Maureen Johnson, Lisa Genova and Marissa Meyer.  All of them were great: I had book(s) signed by the author, got to chat a bit and had my picture taken.  I always feel like I'm meeting a celebrity and I get so giddy and excited to be meeting these amazing people IN REAL LIFE.

So, I found out recently that Veronica Roth and Tahereh Mafi are coming to my area.  I immediately thought, "No WAY!  This is going to be AMAZING!"  And then I found out more about the event.  Basically, I can only meet the authors if I buy one of their books on the day of the event.  I already own both trilogies in full, so the only books that I could buy would be novellas, neither of which I had really planned on reading.  There's only 200 wristbands being given out on the day of the event, to the people who have purchased books.  So unless I plan on being there super early (which is unlikely), my chances of snagging one of those wristbands is pretty slim.  Even if I do manage to get a wristband, I can have the book that I bought personalized, and only one other book by the author signed, which kind of sucks.  If I'm going to get one book from the series signed, it would kind of be nice to have all of them signed, you know?

I'm not entirely sure if I want to go ... and I'm feeling torn.  On the one hand, I want to show my support for these writers, whose series I enjoyed, even if they're not the top of my all-time favourites list.  On the other hand, I do understand that there's the potential for everyone to want to have 6 to 8 books each signed, which could result in a ridiculously line-up.

But then, a couple of weeks later, Kristen & P.C. Cast are coming to the very same Chapters location and personalizing copies of the last book in the House of Night series.  The event is on a first-come, first-served basis, and they will also sign ALL OTHER COPIES of their previous books.  Personally, I haven't read the entire series (I think I stopped a couple books shy of the latest one), but this kind of author event has motivated me to put the last two books on hold at the library so that I can finish the series and, if I feel like it on the day of the event, even buying a copy of the final book, just so that I can meet them!  That, to me, is what an author event should be about.

In conclusion, I understand that both Veronica Roth and Tahereh Mafi are hugely successful writers and, as such, they can place these types of rules on their event, but it seems disappointing as a reader that I'd have to jump through these hoops in order to meet them.  I might go and just hear them speak, and skip the whole wristband debacle, but I'm undecided at this point.

Have you seen/met either of these two authors?  Should I make the trip to the event?  Leave me a comment below -- I really need your help in figuring this one out!

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Life of a Blogger - Scents

My good friend, Jessi, over at Novel Heartbeat runs this awesome feature as a way for her followers to get to know her better!  Check out the list of upcoming topics here.

Today's topic is scents, so I'm going to give you my top three favourites, and my top three least favourites.

Top three least favourite scents:
  • B.O. or just stinky people in general, with a particular note to couriers who smoke all day long in their cars and then come into the office to deliver parcels trailing their rank pack-a-day odour -- ugh.
  • Indian curry.  This goes hand-in-hand with foods that I don't like, and also a place once that I just couldn't consider renting because too much Indian food had been cooked within its walls!
  • Cigarette smoke.
Top three scents that are my favourites:
  • Peppermint.  I've also loved the scent of peppermint, from candy canes at Christmas to peppermint-scented candles year-round.
  • Vanilla.  I also burn vanilla candles since they make my house smell like I've been baking.  All of the perfume that I've ever worn is vanilla-based, starting from when I was a teen and would buy vanilla essential oils from The Body Shop!
  • Jean-Paul Gauthier's Homme.  My hubby has quite a few colognes, and they all smell amazing, but this one is my all-time favourite.
What about you?  What are your favourite smells or least favourites?  Leave me a comment below!
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Of Scars and Stardust - Andrea Hannah [DNF Review]

In all honesty, I requested a review copy of this book because it had a pretty cover, which reminded me a little of Lovely, Dark and Deep that I read last year and really liked.  In the heat of summer, I thought a chilly, winter read would be a refreshing change, so I dove into reading this one on a sticky summer afternoon while Marko napped.

The premise was immediately intriguing: wolves that watched from the shadows and loved periwinkle blue and cherry-flavoured anything.  I read about 100 pages, but didn't really feel like the characters were growing and progressing.  Plus, the stuff about the wolves was just WEIRD.  I just couldn't bring myself to pick the book back up and keep reading, so this beautiful book went onto my DNF list.

If you read and liked this one, I'd love to know why!  Leave me a comment below!
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The Good Sister - Jaime Kain

I requested this book on a whim; I think I received an e-mail from Netgalley promoting this book and it sounded interesting.  None of my St. Martins requested had been approved thus far, so I thought I had nothing to lose.  As soon as I was approved, I dove into the book and had a hard time putting it down.

In hindsight, it's hard to put my finger on exactly what compelled me about this story.  None of the characters are particularly likeable, but I think the sisters are each broken and damaged in a heartbreakingly beautiful way.  The narration flips back and forth between the two sisters that are alive, intermixed with several chapters told from the recently deceased sister's point of view.  There are a few twists and turns in the story, some of which I saw coming and some that took me by surprise.

Perhaps what propelled me through the story is the fact that I can see bits of myself and my sister reflected in all of the characters, and in their relationships with one another.  If you have a sister, this book will likely resonate with you in much the same way.

Note: I received an e-galley of this book from Edelweiss.  The fact that I received this book for review did not influence my opinion of this book in any way.
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On Reading Multiple Books

I've had this post sitting in draft form for MONTHS (but just a heading, no content) because I knew that I wanted to share a post at some time.  But then Debby @ Snuggly Oranges wrote this amazing post on the topic, and I thought "What the heck, let's throw my two cents into the mix!"

I used to a be a strict one-book-at-a-time kind of girl.  It's not that I was opposed to the idea of reading multiple books at a time, but the idea had just never occurred to me.  I'd get lost in the world of a book, then move onto something new once I'd finished that story.  But then blogging happened, and I think that this drastically shifted the way I read.

It started out quite innocently.  I was approved for a book on Netgalley, and read it on my iPad.  Then, my sister-in-law bought me a Kobo Touch, and I started reading my e-galleys on my Kobo.  Some e-galleys downloaded in PDF, which were awkward to read on the Kobo, so I'd read those on the iPad.  Then, I went back to work and threw an audiobook into the mix.  I started listening to Game of Thrones on the drive, but reading the print version at home or when I got to work if there was just a page or two left until the end of the chapter.  And then I tossed a library book on top of the pile.

At one point, I'm not even kidding, I was reading two e-galleys (one on the Kobo, one on the iPad), an audiobook AND a print book.  And it got to be way, way too much.  It's not that I was getting confused between books, especially since I was choosing to read completely different things at the same time.  I did start to notice some bizarre overlaps, like the same character name in two different books, or that there were wolves in two books, or two characters described as wearing a similar scarf.  I started to tire of this multiple book reading because it felt like I was trying to get through as many books as possible in a short period of time, and I didn't like what it was doing to my reading spirit.

I posted last week about being more selective about my ARCs, and this has nearly eliminated my e-book reading.  Currently, I'm reading an e-book that I paid for (my first ever!) and I'm loving it.  I also still have an audiobook on the go for my drives to and from work (I spent about two hours in the car and the radio can become tiresome), so I haven't completely given up on the idea of multiple books at once.  BUT, I don't have a print book thrown into the mix.  After I'm finished with this e-book, I will likely jump straight into The Throne of Glass because The Assassin's Blade is freakin' AMAZING, but then I think I'll set aside my e-reader for a bit...and I think I'm okay with that.  Over the past week, I've really enjoyed just slowing down with my reading and savouring the words, rather than rushing to go from one book to the next.

How about you?  Do you read multiple books at a time?  Why or why not?  How do you handle it if you do?  Leave me a comment below -- I'm really interested to see what you think about this topic! 

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Life of a Blogger - Prized Possession

My good friend, Jessi, over at Novel Heartbeat runs this awesome feature as a way for her followers to get to know her better!  Check out the list of upcoming topics here.

A few months ago, one of the Life of a Blogger topics was 101 favourite things and, even though I had decided to narrow it down to a top ten list, I still had a hard time coming up with THINGS that were my favourites.  Of course, if I were to include people, or places, or moments, 101 things would have been a snap, but I was trying to think of material things.  And, you know, I'm not too materialistic, but I still would have thought that I could have picked ten things around my house that I cherish.  Yet, I missed the posting deadline because I only had three items on my list!

Now today's topic my prized possession.  This is even harder, Jessi, since I had trouble coming up with ten!  But I'm going to go with something big, because this has been on my mind a lot lately.  In 2008, my then-boyfriend, now-husband and I decided to purchase our first home.  The real estate market is RIDICULOUS in Vancouver, and prices were shooting through the roof.  Since we were poised to host the Winter Olympics in 2010, rumours were flying that our prices would go even higher once the world could see how beautiful Vancouver is.  So we decided to purchase a two-bedroom, one-bathroom, 900 square foot condo.  A starter home, hoping that we could easily sell in five years (or less), make some money and move into a larger home for the family that we hoped to have.

Well, here we are six and a half years later, and we're still in the same condo.  If we were to sell today, we'd likely sell for a lot less than what we paid for it.  We might be able to walk away with our down payment, but we'd likely lose the equity that we've paid into it.  At times, this has been frustrating because our plan had been to live here for a shorter period of time, and then upgrade.  Yet I also have to remind myself that we are extremely fortunate to even be able to own our own home and to have a roof over our heads.  Although our condo isn't huge, we have enough space so that Marko has his own room (even if he shares it with my husband's chess library).  So, even though we have our moments of regret that we jumped into a housing market that subsequently crashed, I do know that our home is our most prized possession and one that we are most fortunate to have.

What about you?  What's your most prized possession?  Leave me a comment below!
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Series Spotlight - October

Welcome to the October edition of the Series Spotlight!  This is a monthly feature where we'll highlight some of our anticipated series books that are releasing this month, as well as which series are on our TBR piles for this month!

New Releases ...

Neal Shusterman's' UnDivided (release date: October)

I read the first book in this series, Unwind, many many years ago and absolutely LOVED it.  It's twisted and bizarre and icky and unlike anything I've ever read.  I thought it was a fantastic standalone, and was amazed when books 2 and 3 were published years later.  I own both of them, but haven't read them yet, and am hoping to do so once I own all four -- I can't wait to binge read this whole series!

From My TBR Pile ...

Lauren Oliver's Requiem.  2014 CANNOT END WITH THIS BOOK STILL ON MY TBR.

Lauren @ Lose Time Reading and I are reading this one together.  I'M SCARED.  On the one hand, I'm excited to be swept away into a fantastical world and to fall in love with this series like everyone else in the whole wide world.  BUT, on the other hand, what if I'm the ONLY PERSON IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD who doesn't absolutely adore this series.  It's some BIG bookish hype!

What about you?  What's on your TBR pile this month?  Let me know in the comments below!

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